Client Nineteen comes in for a full leg and bikini wax. Because of the new rules, we never know who we’re getting or when, so when Miss Marci comes back with the clipboard and says, “Virginia, you’re up!” I am in the midst of having my own legs and bikini zone waxed by Brooke and Tammy. Irony, I know.
But this far along, we’re basically a well-oiled machine, so Brooke pats the now-hairless parts of me with the aloe oil we use to calm things down afterwards, and then she and Tammy clean up and cut me a pile of new waxing strips while I get dressed and go greet Nineteen.
I really like her at first. She’s chatty, as waxing clients tend to be, which I enjoy because facial clients never want to talk to you at all, and that can get boring. I hear all about her vacation plans, her kids’ various maladies, her husband’s new job, and so on.
Another great thing about Nineteen is that she feels no pain. She’s very pale and her skin does react, reddening up and even bleeding a bit in the bikini area, but she barely blinks. “I drove myself to my own apendectomy,” she tells me cheerfully, as I wax my way along her inner thigh. “I just have a really high pain threshold or something. This is relaxing.”
So she relaxes on the spa bed, chatting away and happily shifting her legs around contortionist-style as needed. And I wax. And wax and wax. This is my first full leg and bikini together client (though I’ve done plenty of each separately now) and newsflash: That’s a lot of surface area.
Miss Stacy and Miss Marci poke their heads in every half hour or so, to make sure I’m still hanging in there. Yes, every half hour, because the whole thing takes nearly three hours, total. As students, we tend to be slow. Miss Lisa waxed the back of my legs last week in about thirty seconds, using the speed waxing technique where you slap all the wax on and then take on strip and rip, rip, rip, rip your way down. I try this, but I get nervous. It’s a lot of ripping. You have to be really dexterous with the wax stick to get all the wax strips lined up the right way.
Plus, the little hot pots that hold the wax and keep it warm for us are far from precise. The longer you wax, the hotter they get, which means 45 minutes in, you’re going to have to take a break and cool it down for a while. I switch off between two pots, and frequently, one has cooled to the Jello stage while the other is wax-flavored boiling water. The inside of my wrist becomes sticky and checkered with little pink burns from testing too hot wax, and let’s just say it’s really good that Nineteen has that great pain threshold because wax temperature is more art than science.
But the main slowdown comes from Nineteen herself, who tracks my progress with eagle eyes. “I think we missed a few furries over there,” she says, pointing to two tiny hairs on the top of her ankle bone. “Can you just do the sides of my hips? That really shows in a bikini,” she adds, pointing to the fine coating of peach fuzz hair that we all have everywhere and that, in fact, you’re not supposed to wax off.
I finally finish and she sits up to better examine herself under the brilliant 1000-watt bulbs of our new makeup mirror. (It’s wall-sized and has the lights going all the way around it, like in old movie star dressing rooms, and everyone loves it until they look at it for longer than 30 seconds, at which point they’re struck blind.) This leads to twenty more minutes of me waxing off individual hairs from the back of her knee that are generally not visible to the naked eye.
“It’s just when you’re on the beach in the sun, you see everything, you know?” Nineteen says.
I do know. For most women, getting into a swimsuit seems to require such a superhuman act of courage, it’s amazing any of us are ever at the beach. God, this makes me sad. And I want Nineteen to have a good vacation. Her kids have been driving her nuts and she hates her job and she deserves it.
But after almost three hours of hard, sweaty labor (did I mention the burns? and how I missed my dinner break?), not to mention three hours of conversation where we’ve covered everything from her mean in-laws to her abandoned dream of being a chef, she slips me $5 for $55 worth of waxing.
I covered what constitutes an appropriate tip in my last Tip Jar post, so suffice to say: If you’re tipping less than ten percent, it’s pretty much like you’re not bothering to tip at all.
Tip Jar Total: $143. Or thereabouts.