By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Then she tells me to turn over. On my knees. With my elbows on the paper. “Try to arch your back a little bit, c’mon, pick it up, don‘t be shy.” I feel the viscous heat on the inner crescent of my behind, dripping down in a single marching line. Then the gauze. Then . . .
“Ohh! Oh, God!” I exclaim.
“Just relax.” RIP! For some reason, I start laughing. RIP! The pain is ludicrous, so abrupt it makes me giddy. “By the way, if you see a little blood, don’t worry, it‘s totally normal.” RRIIIPP! “Okay, you’re done.”
It has taken a lot less time than I thought it would. At the same time, it has lasted years. As I walk back out to Ventura Boulevard, I affect a “prison-rape walk”: slightly bowlegged, carefully making sure nothing bangs into my legs. At home I pull down my pants to study my privates in the mirror. They look so naked and vulnerable, even more breakable than before, as if the monk‘s ring of hair protected them as well as demarcated their specialness from the rest of my body. It isn’t the wax job that makes me look ridiculous, or offends the rest of my body -- quite the opposite. My body is an insult to the wax‘s deftness. I’m glad I haven‘t taken it all off -- the delicate hairline from the whorls of fur on my chest down to the hair on my belly and below is like a lifeline I suddenly did not want cut.
In the days after, I suffer “phantom wax” sensations where I flinch as if expecting to have hair ripped off by some unseen hand. I walk down Sunset or shop at Ralphs only to look down and find my hand unconsciously buried in the material of my crotch -- especially embarrassing in the checkout line. Gradually I begin to feel a certain hot shame for the vanity that led me to this point -- similar to an orgasm you waited for all week and then, seconds after, think, That’s it? I feel foolish to have thought it would make me feel transformed or changed. Ultimately, I realize, the true blending of the sexes is that both of us are prey to the same image-conscious skullduggery, the same metrosexual fantasy that sells us our outer shells at the expense of what‘s inside -- which, since we cannot see it tangibly, we devalue to our own detriment: eating disorders, body obsessions, exercise addiction, low physical self-esteem.
In The Picture of Dorian Gray, arguably the world’s most famous parable of vanity gone awry, Oscar Wilde quotes a line from Shakespeare: “Like the painting of a sorrowA face without a heart.” I think of this as I stand in a club and wait to be approached by a woman undoubtedly as self-conscious about her looks as I am -- both of us part of the same deception and paying for it through the nose to boot.
As you can probably guess, I‘m still waiting.
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