This Week's Great New Thing

While enveloped in my very latest creative rut, it occurred to me that maybe I need to broaden my horizons a bit. So, I've decided to try something new every week, whether it's taking a trip to Tonga or buying that mysterious ugli fruit that I keep passing by in the produce aisle at the grocery store. And, just in case others out there may be interested, I thought I'd chronicle in a blog my baby steps into some of these hot (or tepid) new frontiers. Hope you enjoy it. --S.L. Malone

Thursday, November 09, 2006

27.5 Days

New York smells like pee. I’m not kidding. And I’m not a country bumkin having her first big-city experience, either. Granted, I’ve not ever lived in New York City, but I’ve been here on many business and pleasure trips, and I think it’s a phenomenal universe of its own. And please understand that I’m well-versed in several global major metropolitan capitals, some of which have serious olfactory issues. But I tell you that New York smells like pee.

Of course, this could just be my vexation at being back at the Corporate Desk in the quiet, drab office, watching the time tick away until I can escape for lunch or for the day. I haven’t seen the puffy mounds under my eyes since I left my last corporate engagement, yet there they were this morning, greeting me from the mirror in all their splendor. Even my skin is sallow this week, and I tell you honestly I look five years older than I did when I left home to start this job. Even a fabulous yoga session last night didn’t have much impact—I just don’t feel as healthy as I did at home.

I’m blathering on like this not to sound like a high-maintenance bon-bon-on-the-couch hopeful, but rather to provide an objective take on the typical office desk job. Years ago, when I was entrenched in this kind of day-to-day slog, it didn’t occur to me that the commute, the sitting in an airless beige space, the 8 to10-hour stares at the computer, and the endless fount of coffee were all draining my life force. Not until I took a seven-month work-at-home consulting engagement did I realize what a difference there could be in one’s quality of life given the proper coordinates. I lost 25 pounds. I looked better and younger than I had in years, and my skin and eyes glowed. My feet didn’t ache, and were blister-free. I was well-rested to the point that I was no longer tired at times when I would previously have been dead on my feet. I was nicer. Days were longer and more memorable. I was happy.

Many of the folks in my office here in Manhattan commute more than 90 minutes in each direction every single weekday. That’s roughly 39,600 minutes per year of lost living time (after allowing for four weeks of much-needed vacation)—or 660 hours—or 27.5 days. Almost one entire month per year of these poor people’s lives is spent sitting on a bus or packed commuter train, counting down the minutes until they are able to spend a few minutes with the ones they love. Somehow that just doesn’t seem fair. I was recently offered a job by a large corporation that would have enabled me to work from home. I couldn’t accept it only because the compensation was substantially less than I could work with. But when you think about it, how much would you be willing to pay to buy back those 27.5 days? If one of my NYC colleagues took a local or at-home job at $20,000 less per year, they’d be buying back their life at a rate of $91 per hour. How much is your living time worth to you?

Some companies are starting to do the math, and an increasing number have got the right equation: work to do + happy employee = high-quality result. When I’m healthy, when I’m rested, when I have a life outside the office, I’m more productive. And my work is better. So it is for us all, and in an age when cell phones and wireless internet are just about as ubiquitous as underwear, the argument for virtual employment is gaining strength. And why not? It cuts down on corporations’ real estate and operational costs, fuel costs for the consumer, and, we may also surmise, could in many cases lower healthcare costs in increasingly haler employees. Such a thing is feasible now, and needs only support and creativity to make it happen.

I hope there is a sea change coming, one that will enable us all to savor a few more of those precious minutes that tick away and are gone forever. I want to enjoy those minutes so that they pass quicker than a second, and not while them away waiting for my time to begin. Don’t we all?

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Monday, September 18, 2006

All My Famous Friends

My high school chum Gwenn always knew she’d be a writer. No, no, not a writer—an authoress. Yes, that’s it. In our senior yearbook she wrote that her plans for the future were to live out her days in a house on the beach and be an authoress. No more, no less. And because she was (especially in her own mind) in possession of a rare brilliance with the pen that none of her peers could ever hope to comprehend, she needn’t bore her peon classmates with the details on how she would go about realizing her sparkling destiny. Oh, and along the way it dawned on her by virtue of our junior class play that she was also deeply gifted in the dramatic arts, and so I suppose somehow one pursuit would eventually lead to another. I never bothered to tell her that I, too, was destined for dramatic greatness. I’ve been practicing my Oscar speech ever since my star turn as the Rooster in my elementary school’s production of The Bremen Town Musicians. I should be getting a call from the studios any day now.

What got me thinking about ‘ole Gwenn again after all this time was the sudden appearance on my TV of another high school acquaintance, as a cast member on one of this season’s reality TV shows. I hadn’t thought about Denise in about twenty years, but all of a sudden there she was in high-def, sporting the same illuminated grin she wore in the eighth grade, and being watched and talked about by millions of viewers all over the country. Unlike Gwenn, Denise had no highfalutin certainty of her eventual fame—she was just a genuine, bubbly, and downright humble gal who thought just as much of everyone else as she did of herself. And all of a sudden, here she is, famous—at least for the next fifteen minutes—and the irony of this fact is not lost on me. At an age when I and most probably many of my peers are examining our life progress to date and wondering if we are still at all on track to achieve the success and notoriety we expected by this point, Denise’s face on my TV serves as a wake-up call. I am personally not on quite the same path as I was at sixteen, and in all honesty would probably say that I haven’t yet achieved all that I’d have liked by now. But what of the folks I met along the line who struck me as stars in the making, or (like Gwenn) knew beyond a doubt that they were headed for greatness?

I had to know, so I started googling. First off was Ellie, a college dormmate of mine who shared Gwenn’s theatrical calling. She was part of the ego-laden drama group in-crowd that always intimidated me with their perfection and passion and visceral need to perform. Had Broadway found her yet? Google presented me with no drama-related hits, but it seems she has written a few articles on porch design for a small magazine in Southern California.

Next up—Eldred Laurence Bouvier, who to my awestruck young imagination WAS the next Courtney B. Vance. This young man was so perfect and self-realized that he found it his calling to bring the light of selfhood to the masses. I once saw him enlightening an insecure fellow freshman of mine, lecturing her in his perfectly enunciated tones that she needed to carry herself proudly and let shine her inner self. I had fully expected to see him on the big or small screen by now, but when I never did, I determined that the stage must have beckoned more loudly to him. As it turns out, my googling showed me that Larry does now do some local theater work, but as a side interest while he spends his days as an IT support specialist.

Further research showed me that none of my classmates in high school or college who were earmarked for fame had actually achieved it. They had sunk to the level of “normal people,” riding in crowded subway cars and anonymously sprinkling their lawns with the rest of the everymen and everywomen of the world. But just when I had begun to reassure myself that all of us, even the shining stars of our youth, become normal, average people at the end of the day, my college alumni newsletter threw me for a loop once again. Valerie Voljinski—who has had the good fortune of marrying into a much more user-friendly surname—is published. She is a novelist. She never claimed to be a literary icon in the making, or any kind of literary figure, for that matter. She was a psychology and English major, a seminar classmate and the quintessential, down-to-earth gal. She loved her lab rat and her boyfriend, she fulfilled her goal to become a social worker, and now she’s beat me to the book list. Consider me humbled.

Valerie and Denise are causing me to rethink my original theories about fame. Maybe renown isn’t reserved for the ones who shine most brightly early on. Maybe instead it is those whose light burns in a constant but unassuming glow who have the ability to maintain it and make it work for them when the others have burned themselves out. It’s not what we know about people’s abilities, but what we don’t know that has the power to impress us. Maybe those who aim so high so early find out eventually that what they’re striving for isn’t as perfect as they first imagined, while those who start off with their feet firmly in the soil of reality can see clearly where they want to go and how to get there.

I think I need to share this with Gwenn—she may appreciate it. And she may be able to share these lessons, if they’re worth anything, with her English students back at our old high school. Or she could fold it into a theatrical work—she is the junior and senior class play director, after all.

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Tuesday, August 29, 2006

It Fits! The Ballad of the Perfect Bra

The girls and I have been a team since I was eight years old. It’s true. Pathetic, but true. And I’ve tried to be very good to them all these years, because I know that if I treat them unkindly, they have the ability to seriously cramp my social life as I get into my forties and above. As a reward for my goodwill, they have generated for me more cat calls and poorly-veiled gawks than a woman with modest provisions could ever hope to imagine (whether or not that’s a good thing is still up for debate).

So, when my beloved Sam (an experienced gawker from way back) suggested that perhaps my current bras were not providing the ladies with quite the support they needed to really look and feel their best, I was only too pleased to explore the options for easing their burden. Please understand that at the time I was not sporting lingerie from “Billy Ray’s Bras and Tackle.” I had a wardrobe of lovely unmentionables from Victoria’s Secret, the uber-haven of brassiere couture, and I’ll have you know that the professionals at Vicki’s had verified that I was procuring the perfect size for my measurements—a 34 D, as in Delightful. Sadly, after a few months’ wear, that became D as in Deficient, which ultimately morphed into the dreaded D as in Droopy.

As luck would have it, Sam is a sensitive male secure enough in his masculinity to be comfortable surfing websites like, on which was featured Oprah’s pronouncement on the best place to go for a well-fitted bra. And as we all know, if Oprah says it, it is law. Anyway, Oprah’s shining edifice of mammary comfort, Intimacy Bra Fit Experts, is right on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago, to which I coincidentally had a business trip the following week. So, I packed the girls into their Vicki’s boulder holder and headed to the Windy City for a Great New Thing.

What first impressed me about Intimacy was the fact that I had to make an appointment for a fitting. My previous bra fitting experiences had involved a sales clerk, a measuring tape, and about 45 seconds of sucking things in. The folks here, however, seemed to really mean business. As I waited for my turn, I overheard the woman behind the desk ordering a few garments for a customer—in a 34 double H. “Double H,” I smirked to myself. “God bless the poor woman who has to carry those around all the time.” I thusly entertained myself until it was my turn to step behind the curtain.

My bra expert—a young slender lass who couldn’t have been more than a B cup herself—had me first model my current Vicki’s bra for her. After a quick once-over (and no measuring tape), she determined that Victoria’s real Secret was actually that the poor woman didn’t know how to fit her customers into bras. There were three telltale signs that my fit was fraught with issues. First, the back strap floated upward, a sure sign that the band was too wide. Second, my cups runneth over, a telltale sign that (big surprise here) the cup size wasn’t big enough. Third, there was the droop factor, which indicated to her that my straps needed a serious readjustment or maybe even a stronger foundation.

She dashed out of the room and returned moments later with a few garments for me to test drive. The first was a little too big, but the second fit like a dream, in every conceivable way. Never had the ladies looked this stunning. They stood like attentive little soldiers awaiting command, the very definition of perky, healthy—and sexy. As I turned around and around, admiring myself from every angle, I felt like a million bucks … until I asked the size of this miraculous bra.

My friends, I do not have one of those chests that people stare at with an unbelieving shake of the head. I’m 5’3” and a size six, and my breasts honestly do not look awkward on my body at all. Voluptuous--you bet. Circus freak—not even a little bit. So, when my Intimacy expert informed me that I was a size 31G, I resisted the urge to be shocked or humiliated. Instead, I l simply considered my reflection in the mirror. I looked well-supported, I looked good, and most of all I looked absolutely normal in my new 31G bra, under a size medium Gap T-shirt. Therefore, my final reaction is, “so what?” Maybe it’s time to recalibrate the public’s perspective on bra sizes. If it’s true (and it must be, because someone said it on Oprah) that up to 80% of women are wearing bras that are the wrong size, that means there are a lot more women out there just like me—D’s, double D’s, G’s, and yes, probably a whole truckload of absolutely stunning, well-proportioned double-H’s. I am a 31G, not G as in Gargantuan, but G as in Gorgeous, and I’ve decided to celebrate it. Ladies, get out there and get a terrific bra, and who cares what the letters on the tag say? You’ll look fabulous, and even more important, feel as beautiful as can be. And that’s the name of the game. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to change into my new bra and a tank top, and go out and walk past a construction crew.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006


My bathroom cabinet is made of wood, which has soaked in so much moisture from the room over the years that it now emits a mildewy, slightly putrid smell. I never really was aware of the smell in the past, but ever since we’ve returned from our vacation to Portugal, I need only walk into that room to be transported right back to the cities we explored. When you get right down to it, the smell of my bathroom is a perfect analogy of our findings on Portugal in general—not off-putting, but just a bit too foul to be really enjoyable.

Our problem may have been that we didn’t set our expectations correctly. I lived in Spain for a while, and my beloved Sam has some experience there as well, so we automatically assumed that given the geographic proximity of the two countries, Portugal would similarly woo us by the friendly demeanor of its people and the beauty of its landscapes. What we didn’t consider, global citizens that we are, was the fact that the two countries have vastly different historical and socio-economic stories to tell, and that those differences would have an impact on both the locals and the locations. There is also something to be said for our choice of stops during the trip. We chose to avoid the more touristy spots, like the picture postcard beaches of the Algarve in the south, in favor of the historic hotspots and areas with lots of local flavor. So, I suppose, you get what you bargain for. So, I thought I summarize for my fellow explorers some of the good, the bad, and the ugly as it pertains to our Portuguese expedition:


  • The Good—This little beach town has a lot of traditional flavor, including women in skirts with seven petticoats, ridiculously good seafood, cheap accommodations, and lovely beaches.
  • The Bad—Those lovely local women are actually bossy as hell, and spend a good portion of their down time in heated discussion with each other. As Sam and I strolled arm in arm down the ancient streets, we came upon an especially saucy discussion between two local ladies, one of whom was so disturbed by the argument, that as we walked passed her, we witnessed her lean over in her chair and retch onto the cobblestone street, then sit back up and continue on as if nothing had happened. How romantic, no?
  • The Ugly—Let me only say this—that odor to which I’ve already referred was permanently burned into our memories by a shop owner from whom we bought a lovely shawl in Nazare. Small store, 95-degree heat, and a dude who had probably not bathed in a week. No wonder the local ladies are in such a state—they have to cuddle up to my bathroom cabinet every night!

  • The Good—Lisbon is one heck of a history center, with seven hills, half a dozen distinctive neighborhoods, and a palate of international influences. There’s no shortage of opportunity to café-hop, shop, or dine well on a tight budget. And the pastries in Belem are so delicious as to defy description.
  • The Bad—While in Lisbon, do not attempt to check your e-mail or have a light-hearted, friendly conversation with anyone who is not a tourist. Both of these endeavors will be fruitless, and you will end up as sullen as the people with whom you tried to yuck it up. And it’s not a language thing, either. . . I speak Portuguese. Thus was crumpled my hopes of a Seville-like charm from the folks on the other side of Iberia.
  • The Ugly—“No, I do not have any money to give you. You’ve come up to me at three cafes in the last day and a half, and I tell you every time that I do not have alms for you. And please tell your nephew with the Chihuahua and the accordion that I still don’t have anything for him, either.”

Quite honestly, the only Portuguese town that Sam and I would return to—and would like to do soon at that—was Porto. What a marvelous place! Other than the occasional BO, which you’ll find all over the country, I suppose, Porto had that vibration, that vitality, that we didn’t perceive in Lisbon or Nazare. Porto is alive—people are creating new and better lives and professions, and the city is making itself into a new-fashioned old-world hotspot. The port lodges and the stunning views charmed us in the daytime, and the riverfront, with its friendly people, incredible food, and happy bustle, seduced us by moonlight. If you ever venture to Portugal, be sure to climb the hills of the Ribeira, look over the lovely Rio Douro, and raise a glass of tawny to a city that toasts you back.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Reiki Therapy

My aunt is a Reiki artist—or therapist, I’m not sure which appellation she prefers. For those of you who have yet to run across this new sensation, Reiki is a Japanese natural healing art that deals with the re-distribution and utilization of the body’s own energy forces through a laying on of hands to promote physical and spiritual well-being. Like acupuncture (which is also on my list of to-do’s, by the way) and the now-ubiquitous yoga, Reiki is creeping across the nation from the West Coast and asserting itself as a popular and effective holistic medical practice for stress reduction and general health. So there. My aunt’s offer to work me over during my recent visit presented me with an opportunity to expand my horizons a bit, so in the name of the week’s Great New Thing I jumped at the chance to hop on her table and have my energy flow assessed.

Members of my family have very amusing responses to my aunt’s (let’s call her Natalie) chosen profession. First off, Uncle Bob and Aunt Natalie are the only members of the clan to have ventured off to the West Coast, which in and of itself endows them with an air of other-worldliness to the Easterners. As if that weren’t enough, the fact that Aunt Natalie has for many years been working in areas dealing with the metaphysical and Eastern philosophy is a giant befuddlement to some of the more conservative spokes in the family wheel, including my Christian conservative, highly traditional Aunt Maggie and her minister husband. I don’t believe Aunt Maggie is even at the point of being able to process the fact that Aunt Natalie is an energy healer—she’s still stuck on the fact that Natalie and Bob don’t go to church on Sunday. Metaphysical approximation of oneness with the universe may have to wait a while. I’m more like my grandmother—generally open-minded and willing to try anything once. I’m also a proponent of Eastern philosophies, having been a yoga devotee for a number of years now, so was able to approach the idea of Reiki with a belief that there may actually be some perceptible impact involved. Finally, my egregious church record and out-of-wedlock cohabitation with my beloved Sam plunk me down right beside Aunt Natalie on Aunt Maggie’s “tsk tsk list”, and I’ll always go the extra mile for a member of my posse.

So, I skipped into Aunt Natalie’s studio one sunny California day to begin my journey into understanding my cosmic energy. The first thing I noticed in this cheery little room was a treatment table with what looked to be daggers draped around it. Before I had time to appropriately freak out, however, Aunt Natalie bade me sit opposite her in one of a few office chairs (without daggers) and discuss with her what I hoped to accomplish in the session. Having no earthly clue what to expect let alone accomplish in Reiki therapy, I offered a well-prepared Miss America response involving something about learning and feeling. This seemed satisfactory to my guru, for she motioned me towards The Table without hesitation.

She explained that the daggers were actually crystals, and far from plummeting down to gut me in the middle of my energy therapy, which looked to be exactly the case, their role was to promote the flow of energy by blinking in pre-synchronized order while the session was in progress. OK, no impalement, but we still have an issue. I’m epileptic, and for those of you who may not know, we don’t like strobe lights very much. At concerts, on ambulances, or in Reiki therapy sessions, they all suck. But where there is a will there is a way, and I ended up lying blindfolded under the clicking crystal daggers of The Table, trying to release myself to the process.

The entire session was fairly quick—probably around fifteen minutes or so. I could hear Aunt Natalie moving around me, and peeked a few times to see what she was up to. She was making scooping motions over me that looked as though she was gathering bits of flour into piles in the air, and every once in a while she’d brush off the imaginary flour she’d collected into the space behind her. Throughout this process, I tried to pay attention to what I was feeling. For a good while all I felt was that lovely relaxation that comes from a quiet, scented spa with soft new wave music playing in the background. All of a sudden, though, as she was gently moving my right hip and thigh, I felt what I can only refer to as energy form a kind of circuit around my body. It was definitely not my imagination—it was not an electrical shock kind of thing, but just a gentle hum traveling in a complete path around my body. Shortly after the hum began, Aunt Natalie pronounced the session complete.

Dear Aunt Maggie: Reiki therapy is bona fide and real. Pay a visit to Aunt Natalie some time, lie down under the crystals, and see what starts to flow. You may be surprised. And maybe if you give her practice a shot, Natalie and Bob will go with you to Sunday service while you’re in town. Namaste.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Baby Dance Lessons

First of all, I can’t stand that term—“Baby Dance”. What a ridiculous euphemism. It’s sex, OK? Perfectly timed, traditional, no-frills heterosexual intercourse aimed at depositing an adequate amount of sperm into position to fertilize an egg at the very moment it makes its debut in the fallopian tube (or sometime during the ensuing 24 hours). This is the most natural and perfectly designed of human activities, and one would think that a properly executed embryonic boogie would create fetal foot-tapping in fairly short order, provided that both partners are in performance-ready shape.

One would be wrong. As Eloise and I discussed while she was rip, rip, ripping away during my last waxing session (see previous post—we’ve moved on from Bonnie), well-orchestrated lovemaking between two healthy parties often creates nothing but angst, frustration and $30 per month in ovulation test kit costs. I cannot for the life of me understand why such an elementary human act is proving more difficult for me than learning to write paragraphs in Russian. My beloved Sam has even done this before—he has two children from a previous marriage—so we KNOW his troops know the proper coordinates. Even so, God love him, he good-naturedly signed up for that humiliating “test” that is much more embarrassing than my being probed with a penis-shaped camera to make sure my ovaries are healthy. As it turns out, he checks out not just fine but fabulous (way to go, boys) and after much poking, prodding, and penis photography, I’ve got a gold star as well. So what’s the deal? Well, I’m afraid that when it comes to the Baby Dance, we have four left feet.

This is a family posting area, so let me try to deal with this as delicately as I can. I have historically had a minor issue with . . . well . . . moisture, and often enlist the help of an over-the-counter lubricant to help things along a wee bit. So, Sam and I have developed a routine of using what we call “the juice” during our reproductive and non-reproductive engagements. However, I happened to read on a fertility website about a month ago that, according to current studies, the use of any personal lubricant during sex (K-Y included), markedly decreases the motility and/or general health of sperm. It actually acts a bit like a spermicide, believe it or not. (As an additional note, saliva is bad, too). Of course, I was jubilant to learn this news, as it explained our unrewarded efforts thus far-- and what an easy problem to solve!

Yeah, right. Last night I was in the sweetest of the ovulatory sweet spots with regard to baby dance timing. It was perfect—my womb was all but rolling out the welcome mat. Alas, the complex choreography of getting me ready to provide safe haven to his emissaries while keeping his state of affairs at the right level proved more convoluted than Swan Lake in high heels. In the end, after a good bit of fruitless trying, we just snuggled up in a frustrated, exhausted mass and fell asleep—without completing the routine.

I don’t know if I require special training to surpass this annoyingly minor obstacle, but if we have another experience like this one, “the juice” may just find its way back into the love nest, spermicidal properties be damned. After all, I believe the first steps to a happy family is a happy couple, and maybe if we just keep concentrating on enjoying the groove we’ve got, we’ll get a nice surprise along the way.

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Monday, June 26, 2006

The Brazilian Bikini Wax

This is what I would like to know--what sadistic, evil, torture-mongering misogynist determined that a hair-free womanly quadrant was an element of beauty, and that it was socially acceptable to achieve said beauty through such an exceedingly displeasurable method?

Yes, I have experienced the cartoonish torment of the Brazilian Bikini Wax and lived to tell about it. Please understand that I am very much a neat freak when it comes to the care and maintenance of my…lawn, as it were…and have always paid careful attention to my personal grooming. I am not (fortunately) a naturally fuzzy individual. My grandmother, for example, has never in her life needed to shave her legs, and I thank her for passing on those easy-to-manage genes to me. And as many women have, I’ve over the years experimented with various “hairstyles” and methods to achieve them, many times in conjunction with the specific likes of a particular boyfriend. I have even attempted Brazilian waxing at home, a practice I do not recommend for anyone who is not a professional contortionist with training as an aesthetician and no pain sensors in their brain. At any rate, since summer is upon us and I was due for some lawn maintenance anyway, I decided to take the plunge and get professionally pummeled.

Here’s the good news—the entire procedure takes fifteen minutes, in contrast to a miserable 60 minutes of splayed-out ripping on the bathroom floor at home. And the price tag of $50 is actually rather conservative in the litany of female spa procedures. Here’s the bad news—I think I’m now technically having an affair with my aesthetician, since she has seen me in positions that I don’t believe I’ve ever assumed with any of the above-referenced boyfriends. Allow me to summarize the protocol for my "Brazilian Bonanza", for those of you who haven’t had the pleasure as of yet:

  • Step One—Walk into the treatment room with the technician (let’s call her Bonnie) and discuss the weather.
  • Step 2—Drop your drawers while Bonnie heats up the wax, and walk your half-naked self over to the table, which is covered in paper just like at the doctor’s office.
  • Step 3—Lay on your back, bring the soles of your feet together and attempt to respond to Bonnie’s idle chit-chat while she layers baby powder and then really warm wax over your most intimate of intimates, with a bird’s eye view into your womb.
  • Step 4—Using a labor-like breathing technique Bonnie’s taught you, exhale deeply as she repeatedly rip, rip, rips out that unsightly hair growth.

Side note--have I mentioned Bonnie's trainee? Oh yes--before passing the baton to her young apprentice, she must be schooled in the art of the female wax, and I have courteously agreed (what else am I gonna do?) to allow Bonnie's pupil to observe our session. Therefore, every step is accompanied by Bonnie's commentary on how to apply the wax, which "folds" to move aside, which direction the hair grows in this particular crevice, etc. and so forth. I'm not kidding.

  • Step 5—Be thankful that you study yoga as Bonnie has you lift each leg to your head in turn so that she can get to the hairs in places you didn’t even know you had.
  • Step 6--Roll over on your stomach and be thankful that you’ve just showered as Bonnie explores the depths of your butt in a search for follicular rebels. Side note—as she explained to her apprentice, Bonnie uses Steps 5 and 6 instead of asking clients to get on all fours to provide access to the same areas. She finds it a degrading position that is unneccessary, and I couldn’t agree more.
  • Step 7—Bonnie applies antiseptic and a little more baby powder to your now perfectly smooth woman-parts. You’re done.

I had to admire Bonnie’s efficiency—she got me in and out of those positions as quickly as she possibly could, but got every damn hair down there in the process. At first, I was perfectly mortified by the idea of her seeing me in such a state of vulnerability (I am a rather modest gal), but I felt a little better when she told me that this was her third Brazilian of the day, and it’s a normal day. So, in the final analysis, two days from now Bonnie will not remember a single thing about my womanhood, but will be busily rip, rip, ripping away at one of many other unsuspecting victims.

As I walked home from the spa, slightly humiliated, slightly sore, and deeply impressed at my tolerance to pain, I marveled that women actually go through this ordeal (and pay for it) once a month just to achieve a little extra smoothness and neatness. Wouldn’t the good old bikini line wax or shave do the trick? It’s cheaper, faster, and produces a lot less discomfort. Plus, it keeps in place some natural down that some part of me still thinks ought to be there. Is it really that much better to go Brazilian? Though it’s all still a mystery to me, my next appointment for pain with Bonnie is in four weeks.

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