Chapter Six: To Wax or Not to Wax
The long-running argument between my mother and I on whether a man should wax
My mother called me that morning to let me know she had a new recipe for jerk chicken, a mere three points a serving. Who needed fancy Manhattan brunches when I had my mother calling me about jerk chicken? Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on whom you ask), I didnt have time to jot it down as I was running late for an appointment.
What kind of appointment? she asked.
Its personal, I explained.
Oh, God! Is everything all right? she asked, sounding irritated. I blamed her irritability on getting up at 5 A.M. every morning, while she blamed it on my father.
If its fine, whats the appointment for? Oh, God! Is it your health? Youre okay, arent you? Youve been practicing safe sex? For Gods sake, what is it?
I was even more nervous about this than when Id told her I was gay.
Im going for a wax.
Im going for a wax.
Her panic turned to laughter. Thats a good one, Berto. (She loved to call me by this name when making jokes. Clearly she shared my taste in all things Latin.) After spending several minutes convincing her I was deadly serious, she was baffled as to the reason any man would want to do such a thing. In her opinion, Men dont do that sort of thing, only women.
I knew when I came out of the closet that I would have to educate my family on a lot of aspects of being gay, but somehow this was all too much for me. What would next weeks conversation be? The Joys of Gay Sex?
I continued to rush her off the phone before she asked the dreaded question that I knew was coming next. I didnt need my mother to know that. But she was going in that direction. I quickly tried to deflect.
Hows Grams knee? I asked, semi-concerned. (She had just had excruciating knee surgery the week before.)
Shell live. Now, what the hell is this sicko going to wax?
There it was. Right before me. A question most gay men dont even like talking about with their closest friends, even though they know everyones been down that road. If you must know, my chest, stomach, and back.
You have a hairy back? she said with disgust.
No, but I dont even like having a little bit there.
Thats so gay, she said. Sorry, you know what I mean. She had nothing to be sorry aboutit was so gay even I was more than embarrassed to be doing it, let alone having a conversation about it with my mother. Remember, this is before the word manscaping became part of our lexicon thanks to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.
To my great fortune, my sister, her husband, and their two kids happened to be visiting my parents that weekend.
Hold on. Julie just walked in, she said. I could hear her muffling the phone, but in the way only a mother could, meaning I heard every word. Your brother is getting waxed! she said, distraught.
I could hear my sister in the background. Really? Maybe Jeff should do it. Hes hairy. Jeff, my brother-in-law, is a great guy, a family man, a mans man, but not someone with whom I want to share my personal grooming habits.
Jeff, come in here for a minute, I heard my sister yell. This was not happening to me.
Ma, I gotta go. Im going to be late for Rima, I said.
Rima? This person has a name? What kind of person aspires to pull body hair off someones most intimate areas? More importantly, what kind of person lets her do it?
Actually, she is about your age, and shes this great normal Russian woman who tells me all about her daughter studying classical piano and her son who just finished his sophomore year of high school. (I left out that this was usually when I was lying face down while she was ripping hot wax off my ass).
Oh, my God! I just cant even
At that moment, my brother-in-law walked into the room, and I heard my sister telling him to raise his shirt. He sounded confused but did as he was told, as he knew better than to not follow orders when my mom and sister were in the room.
Yeah, you could definitely use a wax. Its like a sweater, I heard my sister say. I can take you to my lady at home. Shes quick and painless. I could hear my mothers groans.
I really have to go now. Im going to be late.
One second. Your dad just walked in from the office, she said.
Why is Jeff standing with his shirt lifted? I dont need to see that shit, I heard him say. I love my dad! He nailed exactly what I was thinking.
Do you know what your son is doing? Hes getting waxed? my mom said. Hes having his hair on his chest, back, and God knows where else ripped off with hot wax, she barked.
I dont really see the big deal, Jane, he said to my surprise.
What? my mother and I said in sync.
Its really no different than our backyard, he said. When we first moved in, the trees in the back were totally overgrown and the bushes looked like they hadnt been trimmed in years. You said yourself it looked like a vacant lot. We didnt even want to invite anyone over to spend time in the backyard until we cleaned it up, he continued.
Where are you going with this? she asked.
Im saying Robert needs to trim his tree and bush before anyone spends time in his backyard.
Now that I know a little about gay men, I just dont get why they feel they have to wax every hair on their body. Do they like pain? Do all gay peoplemen and womenwax? Believe me, I am learning as I go along. Im trying here.
I personally think some chest hair is attractive. I dont know why Ron doesnt have any. My son-in-law should wax, though, since he has a lot of body hair. I discovered it one day in the kitchen. I guess when I think about it, who wants to be with someone who feels like hes wearing a coat?
Bottom line, my son waxesI have even dropped him off at a wax salonand while were on the subject, he has better manicured nails than I do. And there is nothing feminine about him. Id like to be more like my son. He is getting it all together. Maybe I should start going with him, although I suspect that might just send him over the edge. I would like to meet this Rima, though, and find out why the hell she does what she does.
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