“I have gorilla hands,” Aimee said in complete frustration. She stomped her foot as she lathered her hands with soap and rubbed them together under the faucet in the bathroom next to our bedroom. Had mineral spirits come out the result might have been different, but the warm water merely spread the adhesive and after a moment hair covered her usually smooth hands front to back. Seeing the futility of her efforts, my wife shut off the water and, compelled by force of habit, grabbed the nearest towel. With this gesture, one of our lovely white towels, a wedding present that we could not afford to replace, joined the effort. “You did this!” she hissed trying to free her hands from the cotton pile.
With less than a year of marriage together and looking for ways to save money, Aimee and I had purchased a pair of hair clippers for half the cost of a single haircut in a barbershop so she could do my hair. She already had plenty of practice grooming the dog, but since she would not be shaving me completely bald there was a bit of a learning curve on that first cut. Once the patches grew in it looked pretty good and she continued to get better. Since Aimee had already taken responsibility for other parts of my grooming, “Sure,” was her immediate response when I picked up the home waxing kit in the store and asked her if she would do my back.
The wax looked innocuous enough. Lavender and smooth, it resembled a facial cream, but when I removed the lid the product stuck to it, stretching like cheese on a hot pizza. I warmed it in the microwave and got on the bed. Aimee tepidly applied some of the glop with a little wooden spatula that came with the kit and set the bottle and the spatula on a chair. She applied one of the cloth patches the hair attaches to and only then seemed to realize violently separating thousands of hairs from their follicles might not be as pleasant as, say, a foot massage. We were newlyweds and still averse to intentionally hurting one another.
She pulled slowly as I gripped the running boards. Having had this done professionally I was certain waxing is something best done in haste.
“I don’t think I can do this,” she said. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Well, you’re committed now. Go on,” I lied, “it really doesn’t hurt.”
Soon Aimee was deftly handling the wax, spatulas and cloth strips but the hair was not coming out in swathes. It was more a thinning than a clear cut. The slow progress was frustrating and the wax maddening. Aimee had been cautiously handling the materials, placing the spatula on the upturned lid and touching only the corners of the cloth strips but they were like mythological snakes; no matter where Aimee held them, the head was always free to lick her with its tacky tongue. Soon her hands and arms were covered with wax and hair.
Looking for better leverage, she put her foot on the chair. The wax immediately saw her mistake and the spatula attached itself to the bottom of her foot. She tried to remove the stick but lost her balance, planting herself firmly in the middle of the shag rug on the floor. She lifted her foot, the polyester fur followed. Then a drop of wax landed on the new comforter. Aimee tried to get it, but . . . You know. She had the Midas touch, only that golden color turned out to be honey.
Frustration mounted. The wax had to be continually reheated and over the course of only a half an hour, it managed to colonize the microwave door, the doorknobs between the kitchen and the bedroom, the chair, the rug, the light switch and plate, the waste basket where we deposited the sticky bombs, the comforter and select parts of my anatomy. The hair, however, proved recalcitrant.
By this point Aimee was no longer really applying the strips as she was hitting my back with them, grabbing a few hairs each time, cursing as her reddening face threatened to match the plum PJs she was wearing. Exhausted, she climbed off the bed and walked to the bathroom, the wax spreading across the hardwood floors and onto the tile. Her hands infected the handles on the faucet, then the soap dispenser. I have gorilla hands. Then, the towel. You did this! She looked up at me with those eyes that could melt anything, well anything but the wax, and said, “Maybe we should read the directions.” We laughed.
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