I wrote the bones of this piece four years ago, around four in the afternoon. It just poured out, fuelled by a haze of nostalgia and homesickness. Immigrants are transplants who carry pieces of their homeland with them no matter where they may be, and sometimes I miss the part of myself that I had to leave behind.
This wasn’t something I ever thought I would share, but I am glad I did. The challenge was to seamlessly incorporate the native language of transaction into the piece, and I was fortunate to have an absolute marvel of an editrix who patiently helped me wrestle it into the shape it eventually ended up taking. People never believe me when I say I’m a sentimental little thing, but seeing my work published is always a surreal experience, and I’m really excited to be able to share my essay with you now!
The difference between a Brazilian done in Toronto and a Brazilian done in Dumaguete spans leagues.
The former takes approximately ten minutes. It’s quick, clinical, precise and expensive, barely even giving me any time to register the loss of body hair.
The latter starts with the aesthetician handing me a bathrobe, a towel and a small bar of soap. (“Ma’am, wash first?”) You know you’re in the Philippines when you need a clean vagina before the waxer even deals with you. That’s how we are. We brush our teeth before seeing the dentist. We wash our vajayjays before getting a wax. My usual suki admitted to seeing her share of tampon strings. She would never think of asking her clients to wash themselves. I can only imagine the judgment meted out by a Filipina waxer if someone dared to come in for a wax while on her period.
She had me staring at the ceiling for the better part of an hour wondering what my labia must look like to someone who had a spotlight pointed at my crotch and was aggressively parting it every which way, hunting down stray pubes with a tweezer. (“Ma’am, pwede i-puller?”) No one has ever paid that much attention to my nether regions. Not A. Not my gynecologist. Not even I.
Also, so much aggressive rubbing! Each time she spread a bit of wax and applied the strip, she would apply pressure and rub like there was no tomorrow, ensuring the wax stuck to the strip so she could remove as much hair as was humanely possible. I wasn’t quite sure if I was supposed to orgasm. I wanted to ask her if anyone ever had, but concentrated on biting back my laughter and holding in a fart instead.
The best part was when I had to part my buttcheeks. Never underestimate the weirdness of parting your own buttcheeks while a total stranger plucks it clean of hair because there are some parts that wax can’t reach. I’m assuming there are some parts that wax can’t reach, anyway. All for the low price of PhP 550! Sulit na sulit.
Yours in hairlessness,
PS: Traffic here is awful.
PPS: A motorcab had a sign on its rear that read “Ang mulusot pisot” in big blue letters.