Wax On, Wax Off

(In this entry, I am going to shamelessly use Javier as a narrative catalyst. He drives me where I want to go, describes some events and expressions after the events take place, and has 1-2 lines of significant dialogue. I can’t tell the story without him, so I hope he’s OK with being a rather necessary cameo.)

Javier and I step through the open door of the nail salon, across the brightly-patterned tile floor, and up to the desk. A small Asian woman in a bold striped shirt greets us and asks what we need. “I need my eyebrows waxed,” I explain, and she tells me to sign my name in the guestbook. I scrawl a very blurry Emily, and Javier and I step off to the right to await service.

A few minutes later, the same Asian woman returns and indicates that I should follow her. Her soft, unassuming tone accentuates the faltering fluency of her expressions. I ask, “May I have you arm?” and she stares at me with confusion.

“Can she hold your arm?” Javier corrects, trying not to laugh.

“Yes, can I hold onto your elbow?”

“Oh!” she exclaims, comprehension blossoming across her face. “Yes! Here is my arm!” She smiles brightly at me as she extends her right elbow. I take it, and she leads me deeper into the salon, between the two rows of massage chairs.

For someone only minutes into the realization that I have limited vision, she guides me expertly. She keeps her arm tucked against her body and shifts her body dramatically when we pass an obstacle. (This surely beats the time I was here before—when the shop owner attempted to guide me by picking up the end of my cane and walking forward!)

When we get to an empty chair, she pats the seat and says, “Here is chair! You sit here.” I obey her, folding my cane and placing my pink quilted purse on the floor to my left. “You relax—I be right back,” she assures me, before trotting away. I lean back and prop up my feet.

She returns with her tools and presses the button that reclines my chair. As the chair leans back, I remove my glasses and wait. She leans over me, turning my face so she can see each eyebrow. I close my eyes and listen to the metallic tinkle of her tiny tools.

I feel a spot of cold metal touching the space above my right eyebrow. She announces that she is going to trim them for me, and I hear the quiet, crunchy snip of the tiny trimmer passing across my eyebrow. Each time, its metal length lies across my skin and then angles slightly as she snaps it shut. The trim is painless.

I smell the hot wax, and she leans over me with a q-tip. She uses the q-tip to paint warm wax on the underside of my left eyebrow. She presses something soft and flat against the wax and smooths it down with her fingers. With one hand, she takes the end of the thin cloth, and the other hand braces against my eyebrow. She lifts the cloth, and—rip!—she tears it off! “Hurt?” she asks, as I feel tears pooling at the edges of my eyes.

“A little bit.” I laugh. “So worth it – they’re really grown out!”

“Yes,” she continues, painting wax above the left eyebrow. “I have wax every few weeks, and still cry every time!” She rips it off. “But worth it. Will be so pretty. After hurt, it is so beautiful.”

“Oh yes! And they grow so fast!”

She laughs, continuing to paint wax onto my right eyebrow. She paints across the space under the brow, rips the wax off, and repeats the procedure on the space above the brow. The above-brow wax hurts less, because the bone behind the brow supports the skin as she pulls. Each time my face scrunches in pain, she repeats, “After hurt, so beautiful!”

When she has waxed the two eyebrows, she steps away, presumably to throw out the small pieces of cloth. She announces her departure, saying, “I be right back,” and her return, “Now I am back.” Again, I feel the cold metal against my skin as she tweezes stray hairs.  As she plucks, she begins to ask me questions about my vision.

“When you come in, I see you sign your name. Did not realize…you have…”

“Limited vision?” I supply.

“Yes, yes, so you can see a little bit?” she asks, painting wax on the space between my brows. As before, she lays the cloth over the skin and rips it off. I wince.

“A little bit,” I explain. “I can read and write, but I can’t see to drive…Or pluck my own eyebrows!”

“Ohhh, no worry! I get coworker to do mine!” She laughs, using a small brush to smooth the hairs of my right eyebrow. “See, you fine! Even good vision and I don’t do mine!”

She asks why she hasn’t seen me at the salon before. I explain that I used to live nearby, but now I live about 20 minutes away. She asks if I go to work or school, and I say that I am teaching English. She gets excited and tells me about her major. “One year left!” she exclaims. Continuing to pluck, she says, “I gonna make you so sexy!”

As we talk, she smooths a soothing gel over my waxed skin. “Not very red,” she explains, indicating that my eyebrows don’t look irritated from the hot wax. Now that she has finished, I ask for a mirror. She hands me the mirror and watches as I examine my reflection.

“Thank you, they look so much better!”

“Yes, hurt worth it!” I hand her the mirror and gather my things. She stands by the chair, her arm outstretched. “My arm right here.”

She guides me to the front of the salon, where I pay. When she gives me back my debit card, she says, “Here is your card.” She hands me the receipt and says, “Here is your receipt.” She thanks me for coming in and says cheerfully, “I hope see you again next time!”

As we return to the car, I discuss the situation with Javier (I told you he was going to make a few appearances). He informs me that, once she realized what I needed, she lit up. “You should have seen her face,” he laughs. “She looked so excited to help you.”
I left the salon, feeling excited. I not only have two separate eyebrows again, but I made a connection with someone who intuitively helped me. Aside from telling her I needed her arm, I did not ask for any of the assistance she gave. I never told her to tell me when she left or when she came back, never specified that she should tell me when she was handing me things or where her arm was. She just…GOT it!

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