All of a sudden, I was hypersensitive to everything. Every unsolicited touch, every look threatened to bulldoze me. And even though I knew I was imagining it, I swore I felt ache each time I breathed.
But the words were the worst part. Everyone was talking so much, it seemed. At court. At the office. On tv.
By Tuesday evening, my emotions had come forward in unexpected waves. Sadness. Anger. Confusion. And then sadness, again. My professional obligations satisfied for the week, I cancelled all of my personal appointments.
A restless night saw me sleep-deprived and haggard on Wednesday morning. I stood before my full length mirror and assessed my nude reflection. Critical eyes returned my vacant stare.
“Fuck,” I said, gathering my robe and looking around frantically for my phone.
One by one, I set about rescheduling the appointments I’d cancelled. Hair. Pedicure. Sugaring. By noon, all was back to right. All but the sugaring.
As pisspoor luck would have it, my highly sought after vag-aesthetician had already filled my slot (keep the pun), and me and my sweetladypurse were up Shit’s Creek.
Panicked, I worried this bump in the road would derail what meager progress I’d made. Biting my bottom lip, I scrolled through my phone’s contacts until I found the number for which I was reluctantly searching. I exhaled a long, dejected sigh before dialing.
“What up, Chief?” the voice on the other end answered.
“Kiersten, I need the number,” I said slowly.
“What number?” my friend asked.
I sighed, again. “You know the number. THE number.”
“The Bolshevik?” Kiersten questioned, her disbelief palpable.
“Yep,” I returned.
“Nooooo,” came her response.
“’Fraid so, Kid.”
I felt the exact moment Kiersten’s incredulity turned to smugness. “I told you this day would come.”
“You did, indeed,” I replied.
“You sure you wanna go this route?” She asked. “Thought you were firmly entrenched in the clean-pussy-for-beginners camp.”
My anxiety was growing. “My lady’s booked. Desperate times, Friend.”
“And you said you’d never return to the fold,” she laughed.
“Never turned out to be a long time, Dude.”
“It always does,” she countered. “You got a hot date or something? Don’t want him to see your George Herbert Walker?”
“I don’t even want to—“
“Your Big Bush!” she exclaimed, laughing excitedly. “HA! Get it?! YOUR BIG BUSH!!!!”
I’d known this call would go this way. I gripped my temples with my left hand. “Seriously. You are the most vile white woman on the face of this earth. I put that on everything.”
Kiersten finally calmed herself. “Flattery will get you everywhere, Cherub. Lemme find that number.”
Though I’d never met Pavi, her reputation in my circle of fancy older friends preceded her. Kiersten had happened upon her a year ago, and occasionally regaled us with stories of the woman’s episodic vagina-treachery when the booze flowed too freely during brunch.
We weren’t exactly sure about Pavi’s origins. Kiersten was a firm believer in not asking personal questions of people who saw her genitals, service industry members included. She did, however, guess that the woman was of Eastern European decent. “Russian or Czech, Lithuanian or Ukrainian. Whatever the fuck,” she’d decided dismissively.
I’d immediately christened the mystery woman “The Bolshevik,” explaining to my friends that her savagery was a way to exact revenge on the people she believed to be her rich, capitalist oppressors. I’d just as instantly vowed never to go to her, irrespective of Kiersten’s glowing praise. The woman sounded like a sadist, and I personally found sugaring to be a more humane option to a brutal hot wax any day.
Until this day.
If Kiersten’s upbeat nature had temporarily alleviated my gloom, my call to Pavi restored it in full force. I’d had to beg the woman to take me on such short notice, fumbling over my words as I explained how shitty my week was going. Perhaps sensing the desperation in my voice, Pavi’d finally relented.
“Last appointment. Thursday. 6:30. Do not be late,” she’d commanded in clipped tones.
I’d driven to the furthest recesses of Fairfax County to meet her. My determinedness to be doing something, anything other than sitting in my house sulking had left little time to thoroughly consider the gravity of my decision.
But as I sat in the waiting area, flipping through old Washingtonians, the full crush of my trepidation weighed me down.
A tall woman with porcelain skin, severe cheekbones, and cropped jet black hair entered and introduced herself as Pavi. She sized me up, looking me over, slowly. “You friend of Mees Kiersten?” she asked in a thick accent.
“I am,” I responded.
“Hm,” she countered, curtly, as though she didn’t believe me. “Come.”
I followed her through a long corridor to a spacious room in the back. Shitty art adorned the walls, and products of every kind lined each table top. I was immediately reminded of a dentist’s office. Or a gynecologist’s office. Or any other sterile, quiet place that I hated with all my being.
Pavi indicated a folded gown at the end of the waxing bed. “You put on.”
I frowned. “I’d actually prefer to just keep my sweater on, and only remove my skirt.”
Pavi eyed me only for a moment before turning to leave. “You put on,” she said before closing the door behind her.
I was too tired or too grateful or too scared to argue. When she returned, minutes later, I was on the bed, dressed in the gown.
Pavi smiled when she entered, happy to see that I’d complied. She spread my knees to assess the situation.
I looked at the ceiling and counted tiles while she applied a liberal amount of powder to my nether regions.
“You lawyer, like Mees Kiersten?” Pavi asked. I felt the wax on my thigh.
“Yes. That’s not how I know her, though. We actually—JESUS CHRIST!” I shouted as she ripped the first strip of cloth from my skin. I looked frantically down to where Pavi sat, not raising an eyebrow, head dutifully bowed, fixated on the task at hand.
I stuttered, and struggled to find my words. “I thought you’d give me some kind of warning. Holy Christ.”
“Ees fine,” came her reply. I felt another slather of wax. “I like Mees Kiersten. Good customer. Always on time.”
“HOLYMARYMOTHEROFSWEETINFANTJESUSDAMNIT,” I exclaimed.
Pavi was undaunted.
I could feel tears building in my eyes. “Wait. You gotta tell me when you’re gonna do that. Seriously.”
Pavi’s face remained impassive. “I tell you, you tense up. I do not tell you, you do not tense up.”
“I’M TENSE NOW.” I burrowed my fingernails into the bed cushion.
“THIS IS NOT A GOOD STRATEGY,” I almost yelled.
Pavi ignored me. “You want shaaeep, maybe? Streep? Hhheaart? Diii-aa-monnd?”
I closed my eyes and fought the urge to kick her in her face. “NO. No shape. Just. You know. Just .You know. What Kiersten gets.” I struggled to find the appropriate tactful words.
“Ah. For boyfriend. Clean. Like baby,” she said, applying more wax.
“Not for boyfriend, no. And I’d just as soon not have any man down there thinking of a baby. Holy smokes, this hurts,” I answered through clenched teeth.
“Young girls, deefrint, today,” she said, to no one in particular. “My huuusband, my age, verrrry deefrint.” She looked up from between my legs. “Like, pooouf, you know?” she asked, smiling. She used her hands to gesticulate what appeared to be a mushroom cloud. “Pooouf,” she said.
I let out a whimper. Whether it was in response to the ripping of cloth or Pavi’s revelation, I was uncertain. Now, on top of everything else, I had the horrifying image of her hairy, hobbit pubis firmly ingrained in my head.
“Okay,” she said. “Up. Turn over.”
I sat upright.
“I really don’t think that will be necessary,” I said. My heart was beginning to race.
“You want like Mees Kiersten? Up. Turn over. Leek dog,” she commanded in a voice that brooked no refusal.
I sat there, wordlessly staring into her dark eyes, for a moment. I didn’t know what to do. Something about her “Leek dog,” had rocked me to my core.
When Pavi’s face betrayed no emotion, I knew my course had been decided long before I’d arrived. Shaking my head, I slowly turned over.
If she says, “Good girl,” she will meet her end, tonight, I told myself.
When it was all over, Pavi took care to examine her handiwork, and tweeze out a few strays. She was all at once gentle, applying a liberal portion of cream.
She asked, “Looks good, yes?” but her tone was more matter-of-fact than questioning.
I couldn’t deny it. For all my pains, physical as well as emotional, she’d done a spectacular job. “Yes. Thank you.”
“You feel bad. Now better, yes?” she asked.
“Yes,” I responded, solemnly. It was true. I hadn’t thought of my craptastic week the entire time I’d been there.
“Ees not so bad. Thees easy. Life ees hard.”