I knew it would hurt. I’m not an idiot. I picture the procedure (as described in fairly graphic detail by a helpful girlfriend). It’s obvious you can’t have that happen without pain.
However — and here I haul out that tried-and-true test of female fortitude — I have had three babies. More to the point, three labours, and even more to the point, all of them without drugs. The ultimate in feminine macho-dom.
Sure, labour hurt, but I was up for it. I could deal. I am focussed, I am stoic, I am capable. I don’t like pain, but I can manage.
So yeah, this was going to hurt, too, but I knew I could cope.
So I lie down on the table, wearing nothing south of the navel but a pair of disposable panties. (Indeed. Who knew those existed?) And the sweet young twenty-year-old sets in to deforestration.
It’s not so bad. The wax goes on, warm and almost soothing. The wide strip of cloth is applied. I press where instructed, to hold the skin taut, and — FZZT! — the cloth is ripped off, taking a decent amount of foliage with it. And sure, it stings like a bugger. My skin is burning. It ain’t pleasant. Not having masochistic tendencies, I’m not having fun, but it’s nothing I can’t deal with.
And that’s as bad as it would have ever been, had I just been getting a “bikini wax”. But, brave, gallant fool that I am, I was not stopping there. For I was getting a brazilian.
Why? I had my reasons. They seemed compelling at the time. (And, lest anyone blame the man in my life, he hadn’t a clue. No requests, no suggestions, not even the faintest hint of expectation or pressure. Nothing. Total surprise to him when he discovered it some hours later.)
The sweet young twenty-year-old bends to her task. “Press here.” “Just once more, then I’ll move over there.” “Push down here, please.” “Just once more for this spot.” “Gee, those ones are stubborn, aren’t they?”
Gradually, she moves in from the outer edges. Gradually encroaching on ever-more-sensitive tissues.
And when she gets to the crux of the matter? When she’s into true brazilian territory?
“I’m going to use this kind of wax now,” she chirps, indicating a different pot on the table beside us, “because it’s gentler.”
She daubs it on, taps it to test for consistency, gets a good grip, then …
I passed out.
I only WISH I had.
There is nothing, people, nothing more painful than what happened next. There is no pain on earth to match it.
Okay, I exaggerate. We all know that. If you’ve had an arm gnawed off by rats, if you’ve had toenails removed without anaesthesia, if you’ve had smallish portions of your body seared with hot irons, you’ve experienced worse. But in the ordinary run of things painful?
Nothing can match having goodly sized chunks of hair ripped from the inner lips of your labia. (Too graphic for you? Too bad. I lived through it. That’s far, far worse.)
I hauled out the pain-management techniques. I stared at my focal point. I did the labour breathing — the third stage, high-level, I’m-going-to-die-if-this-doesn’t-ease-up-in-12-seconds breathing.
It helped. I know it did, because I stayed there on the table. I did not, as flashed through my mind at intervals, beat the sweet young thing unconscious with the magnifying mirror and make a break for it.
I did not even scream, though at times my head jerked back and my chin jutted to the ceiling as my eyes rolled up and gasps, ohmyGODithurts gasps squeezed past clenched jaws.
My labour analogy?
A brazilian at its epicentre is worse than all but the very worst moments of labour. In fact, if a brazilian lasted as long as the average labour, women would go insane. Totally mad with pain. And possibly never recover.
If labour hurt as much as a brazilian throughout its entire duration, women would certainly never have a second child. Not without heavy, heavy drugs.
I am not having a second brazilian without heavy, heavy drugs…
On the way home, shaky with a combination of pain, adrenaline and sheerest relief, I phone my girlfriend, she of the graphic description. Who has, I now note, never had a brazilian, but only the far gentler bikini wax. Because when women experience something we need to TALK ABOUT IT. At length.
I inform her that when the esthetician left the room and I had a look … there were a fair number of stray hairs. 45 minutes of unpleasantness which included, oh, 30 of sheerest agony, and there is STILL HAIR DOWN THERE!
“So did you call her back to finish it off properly?” A reasonable question. I paid a solid amount of money for the procedure; the damned thing should be done right. I had certain expectations of the result; they were not unreasonable expectations, and they weren’t met. The girl did not do the job she was paid to do. Call her back in? I would damned well be within my rights.
Did I call her back in?
“ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MIND???”
Call her back in… Good lord.
My husband is delighted. And beside himself with appreciation for my agonies. I have earned many, many, many Wife Points. Which, you can be sure, I will be milking for all they’re worth.
So there’s that.
And I will never, ever do that to myself again.