Last summer my husband and I were invited on the trip of a lifetime, a seven-day adventure, sailing the British Virgin Islands on a luxury catamaran. Even better, most of our expenses would be taken care of, and being the cash-strapped parents of three children that we are, we were all over that like a mullet on a redneck.
As we prepared for our vacation, among all of the details I was juggling and plans I was making and childcare I was arranging and laundry I was doing, I had a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad crazy idea:
"Self," I thought, "you should totally go get a bikini wax before the sailing trip. You've always wanted to do it. You're gonna be living in a bathing suit for a week, so, really, it's the least you can do for yourself (and everyone else who'll be there, for that matter). Besides, how bad can it be (insert ominous music here)?"
Bad. It can be bad.
I had some time to myself (woot-woot!), so in between errands I pulled in and parked my awesome blue minivan in front of a little store called "Relax and Wax."
The irony in that name never escapes me. There is NOTHING relaxing about what takes place in those little rooms. It's how they lure you in, though, and it obviously worked for me.
Anyway, at this point I was feeling good about the waxing that was to come. I had been instructed by several friends on how to get ready before I arrived. I had done a little...er...prep work at home before I went. If you've ever been waxed, you understand. If not, let me explain it by way of allegory: it's necessary to trim the hedges, so to speak, before completely ripping them out of the ground by the root.
I walked in with extreme confidence. I was finally getting my bikini wax. I was a grown up. I could make tough decisions. I could do this.
As I entered, I saw two people sitting at the desk before me. One was a super-attractive Brazilian guy who was probably twenty years old. The other was a gorgeous, put-together Brazilian lady who looked like a model.
I got nervous.
"Welcome to Relax and Wax," said the lady in her super-awesome-and-smart-sounding Brazilian accent. "What can I do for you today?"
I paused and looked at the long list of waxing options. I felt overwhelmed.
"Um...I just...uh...just want the regular thing. Ya know, like, just a bikini wax."
She looked at me closely and asked me if I was waxing for a special occasion. I responded by telling her about our trip, and that, yes, I was waxing in order to not frighten every single person on our boat when wearing my swimsuit. I'm not European. I don't braid my armpit hair. I like smooth sailing, so to speak.
She looked at me with condescension, then responded:
"Oh, honey, you need better than a bikini wax! You're at Relax and Wax, and we are famous for our Brazilian waxes. It's only $5 more, and you will love it."
Now, I had walked into the store with my mind already made up about this subject. Bikini wax only, no Brazilian. If you're not familiar with Brazilian waxing, let me also explain this by way of allegory: instead of just weeding and edging your garden, you rip up all the plants.
All. The. Plants.
It was in that moment, for some unknown reason, that I lost my ability to think clearly. I was subject to the sales pitch, and she was good. She went on and on about how much I'd like it, and how painless it would be. She guaranteed me I'd be glad I did it, and I started to think, What the heck? For $5 more why not try it?
In hindsight, I can give you a lot of reasons not to try it, reason number one being that it's worse than Chinese water torture.
Okay, back to the story.
Because she was so authoritative and so convincing, I agreed to try out the Brazilian specialty, and after filling out some quick informational forms and a waiver (uh...there's your sign), I followed the lady whom I will henceforth refer to as Ms. Miyagi (think Karate Kid, sensei, wax-on/wax-off dude in female form) back to her booth. She scared me.
When we entered the small room, she immediately told me to undress from the waist down and climb up on the exam-looking table. I waited for her to leave the room, like they do at the GYN. Then I realized she wasn't going anywhere.
In retrospect, this might have been where the shaming began.
I did as she asked, revealing a pasty-white, pre-summer-tan body that had recently birthed its third child and is was still holding on to an extra 40 pounds or so. A sight to behold, to put it mildly. I thought she'd look away while I hoisted myself up onto the exam table.
She wasn't staring in a creepy way, but more in a I-do-this-all-day-long-so-just-get-on-the-dang-table-so-I-can-get-this-over-with kind of way.
I was thinking sort of the opposite, the whole I-don't-normally-get-undressed-then-climb-awkwardly-onto-a-tall-table-in-front-of-people thought.
But climb, I did, and there was a lot of grunting and huffing and hoisting happening.
Ms. Miyagi didn't speak a lot. She began covering me in hot wax, and yes, I mean, HOT wax. I kind of jumped at the first swipe, and she gave me the evil eye. I told myself to man up, that it wouldn't be that bad, that women do it all the time, and all that self-pep talk. She continued to lather, and then explained to me that once the wax dried she would remove it.
"Remove" is a funny word. It sounds fairly innocuous to me, even gentle, like you remove the pot from the stove, or you remove your shoes. Easy peasy, right?
She felt that the first strip of wax had hardened and she told me to breathe in. I should've known anything that required me to pace my breathing was going to be awful, but obediently I breathed in and then out slowly. As I breathed out, Ms. Miyagi yanked that strip of wax off my inner thigh so hard and so fast that I screamed and shot straight up off the table like Br'er Rabbit when he hit the briar patch.
This is something, for future reference, that you never want to do while getting a Brazilian wax. You see, when one screams and shoots straight up off the exam table, one clenches her legs together, and the still-warm wax that is covering the other inner thigh area immediately transfers to the whole region.
Ms. Miyagi looked at me, disgusted.
"NO," she told me loudly, irritated beyond belief. "You NEVER move during a Brazilian wax."
Humiliated, I quickly understood why. After I lay back down, I realized my left inner thigh was now stuck to my right inner thigh, and that I was a hard, waxy mess.
Over the next thirty minutes, through the use of a mixture of hot water, tweezers, and latex gloves (for her benefit), Ms. Miyagi picked off every fleck of dry, hardened wax that was acting as glue to my pelvic region. She was not happy, understandably. She had only successfully waxed one section of my body, and she was a solid forty minutes into the process. My feeble attempts at an apology didn't seem to help much either.
Once the wax was peeled and picked, she prepared the hot wax for the next section. At this point I was seriously contemplating cutting my losses, getting dressed, and getting the heck out of dodge, because I didn't know if I could handle feeling such intense pain again (I've had three kids; childbirth was a breeze compared to getting waxed, and that's no lie).
I told her I might just head out, and she shook her head at me.
"You will finish," said Ms. Miyagi. "You felt the worst part and it won't be that bad again."
I did, however, force myself to remain still and calm as the waxing went on even though I was crying inside.
It was at the 70-minute mark that she announced that she was finished. My feeling of relief was almost tangible. I was pouring sweat and breathing hard. My mascara had smeared from the tears that were welling up in my eyes. I felt giddy and proud, though, now that she had finished, like I had earned a badge of honor.
Then she told me to turn over.
It was this part of the Brazilian waxing process that I was unaware of, and so I looked at her and simply asked:
"Turn over, we must finish," instructed Ms. Miyagi.
And, against my own best judgement, I did what she said because I was a teensy-weensy bit scared of her.
"Uh, why am I doing this exactly?" I asked Ms. Miyagi.
"So I can finish the wax," she said, as though I was a complete idiot, which obviously I was.
I soaked in what she said.
"Oh, no, that's okay, I don't need anything else waxed, thank you very much," I stuttered and stammered, as Ms. Miyagi stirred her wax.
She responded calmly in her Brazilian-accent voice.
"Honey, EVERYONE needs a full wax, and we're gonna finish it. We're almost done."
Again, falling prey to her power and authority, I shut my mouth and came to terms with the fact that this was, indeed, happening.
She quietly prepared her wax. In retrospect I should've stopped. I should've hopped down from that crazy lady's table and run for the door.
Instead, I waited, anxiety-ridden, for her to apply the last bit of wax. It was at that very moment that "the incident" happened.
That was the sound the air made as it unexpectedly escaped from my body.
I'll give you a minute to soak that in.
Are you back with me? Okay. So, yes, in answer to your first and obvious question, I did indeed pass gas right there on the waxing table. Out loud. In the silent, sterile room. I would like to point out that Ms. Miyagi was really the one responsible for this, and I'm convinced there's gotta be scientific proof that there's at least a 50/50 chance that a methane-induced incident is going to occur during a Brazilian wax.
So, yes, it happened. Then, silence.
I decided the mature thing to do would be to broach the subject first, as I was the offender in the situation.
"Um, I'm pretty sure I just farted on your table," I told Ms. Miyagi.
She continued working and said:
That's all. Not "don't worry about it," or, "it happens." Just "yes."
At this point all I could think of was how fast I could get to my car from the waxing booth. She finished lathering the wax, and the pain I felt when she ripped it off was nothing compared to the pain in my heart from the anxiety-induced palpitations that were happening.
"Done," said Ms. Miyagi, closing her vat of wax and tossing her medical gloves in the trash can.
"Thank you," I meekly said, as she walked out the door without another word.
Left alone and ashamed, I quickly threw my clothes back on, paying no attention to the fact that the little bits of wax left on my nether regions were causing my underwear to stick awkwardly to my body. I grabbed my purse and went out to the front desk to pay.
When I got to the desk, Ms. Miyagi was sitting with Mr. Young Brazilian Stud Muffin, speaking to him in Portuguese and laughing hysterically.
I wonder what she was telling him.
Humiliated and knowing Mr. Good Looking was picturing me blowing it out on the waxing table, I threw a wad of cash at Ms. Miyagi and hightailed it for the door. I ran to my car, and did the only thing I knew to do, which was convulse in nervous laughter.
I called my husband, hysterical, because I had to, as we say in the church world, "unpack" what had just happened to me.
He was silent. I'm sure it was because it was just so attractive a mental picture for him, and that he was so proud, in that moment, to be my husband.
I drove away from Relax and Wax anything BUT relaxed, and vowing never, NEVER to subject myself to that pain and humiliation again.
And I haven't. I haven't gone back. Maybe one day I'll get the nerve up to try again, at some other waxing salon, of course. Maybe not. Probably not.
You're probably wondering how I'm going to tie this in to a spiritual truth, aren't you? You're thinking it's just not possible.
Well, if there's one thing we learn in life, it is that we should expect the unexpected. Even if the unexpected sounds like "brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt."
Life is not always, not usually, going to happen as we expect. Our plans aren't God's plans. We can't see the big picture the way He sees the big picture. We can set our expectations and make big plans and still see life change on a dime.
The unexpected is going to happen. Sometimes it's funny or embarrassing, like my unfortunate incident at Relax and Wax. Sometimes life's unexpected turns are painful and hard, like when my sweet friend had to say goodbye to her too-young-to-die husband and father of three earlier this year after a hard-fought battle with cancer. Sometimes we face unexpected financial loss, like the day a 60-year-old man finds out that his job of 20 years is being eliminated.
We have to expect the unexpected.
However, and this is important, we don't have to FEAR the unexpected. Do you know why? Because there is a very real, completely sovereign God who loves and knows us, and nothing is unexpected to Him.
The definition of sovereign is this: "being above all others in character, knowledge, and excellence."
This perfectly sums up who God is, and who we are not. Scripture makes it clear that He alone knows and sees the big picture:
"The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps." -- Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)
"The Lord reigns, He is clothed with majesty; the Lord has clothed and girded Himself with strength. Indeed, the world is firmly established; it will not be moved." -- Psalms 93:1 (ESV)
As a result of the sovereignty of God, when we believe Him to be who He says He is, fear no longer has a hold on us because, as it says in Matthew:
“What’s the price of a pet canary? Some loose change, right? And God cares what happens to it even more than you do. He pays even greater attention to you, down to the last detail—even numbering the hairs on your head!" -- Matthew 10:29-30 (The Message)
He cares. He loves us. And He sees the big picture.
Nothing catches Him off guard, not even a Brazilian wax gone very, very wrong, so be encouraged. He will not fail you.
It's time for me to wrap this blog up. After writing for this long I feel like I have relived some of the trauma I experienced at Relax and Wax. I think I need a massage. Maybe I'll schedule one as a treat. Nothing bad could POSSIBLY come of a massage...could it?