Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 53

with 3 comments


I’m posting earlier than usual today, because if anything happens later in the day that is more dramatic than what happened earlier it means I am in prison.  Or worse.  Let me start from the beginning.  Two years ago when Shawni and I redid our master bathroom we put in several new mirrors.  The mirror over my sink is around chest high and is complimented by the most flattering light you will ever find.  This is my “hero” mirror where at the right time of day I can see what appears to be an ab.  Now, because there is no good without evil, no light without darkness, no Batman without the Joker, we also put in a full length mirror on the door across from the shower.  This is the mirror of evil.  And it was in this mirror that I caught a glimpse of myself reaching for a towel from the shower that, if the image were blurrier, could have been on the cover of the National Enquirer as a Yeti sighting.  It was then that I decided that I must do something about my fuzzy back.

Now, to be fair to myself, I am not Robin Williams in terms of hairiness, but no one is going to question whether or not I’m a mammal.   That event was also not my first foray into hair removal.  That came around 12 years ago after I had broken up with my Crazy Ex and found myself single for the first time.  There were a group of writers of similar ancestry who decided to give laser hair removal a try.  My experience was less than successful.  Warned by a friend of mine, I took a Vicadin and a half beforehand against the strict orders of the UCLA Laser Hair Removal Center.  The reason you’re not supposed to take pain relievers is because they need to know if they are doing too much damage to your skin with the James Bond Villian-style laser beam pressed up against your back.  I remember the technician asking me, “You’re sure that doesn’t hurt?”  And me responding blissfully, “Does what hurt?”  followed by the smell of burning hair and flesh.   My new girlfriend, or maybe even fiancee by then, Shawni, asked me how much money it was costing me to get my back hair removed.  “Around $3,000.”  She responded, “What if you just give me the $3,000 and I’ll go out with you anyway?”  One of the things that has kept Shawni and me together is that things like a downy coat of body hair is not a turnoff.

Anyway, the seed for depilitation was planted two years ago and a couple of recent experiences made me decide to take action.  Firstly, my wife has gotten her legs and bikini area waxed before, so I figured in my effort to empathize with her, I could do the same in a less tender area.  Second, the other day I was driving to hike the dogs and I passed a giant billboard that read, “HEY YOU!  WAX THAT THANG!”  It was for a waxing place, and I can only assume ‘Thang” is a euphemism for back.  Then, I saw a billboard for “Khloe and Lamar” featuring a bare-backed Lamar Odem embracing an ebullient Khloe Kardashian.  I thought, the only difference between Lamar and me is that his back is smooth.   There were other issues too, including my going on vacation next week and not having anything to write about it my journal, so I figured why not and had my wife make me an appointment with Olga, her waxing woman.  Olga has seen it all, literally, so I figured she would be the right person.

In my vast (one day) experience getting waxed I can tell you that every waxer is Russian.  I’m not sure why.  I guess the same cultural wind that makes Vietnamese people go into nail care cause Russian women to go into torture.  The spa was clean, and as was my experience with every single other spa I’ve ever been into, the woman at the front desk is five times prettier than the person who will be working on you.  In my case, Svetlana was an Asian-looking Russian woman.  “May I hyelp you?”  Me: (Quietly): “I’m here to get my back waxed.”  Svetlana (into microphone): “Olga, yewer tweelf o’clock back wexing is hyere.”  I was waiting to see Rocky and Bullwinkle run from behind the counter.  Olga, a sturdy woman between 35 and 70 ushered me to a back room.  I told her, as I tell all the people who fill my teeth or take my blood or massage out my pains that I have a low pain tolerance.  Since this was completely voluntary, I’m not sure why that was relevant.  And neither did Olga who said sternly, “It’s too late, you’re already here, take off your shirt.”  I complied.  Looking for any type of connection, or sympathy I offered: “My wife says this hurts.”  Olga did not break character: “Your wife is weak.  All women are weak.  They cry over everything.  Ooh, it hurts.  Ooh I had a baby.  Lie down on the table.”  Whereas I sold out my wife, Olga sold out her entire gender.  She was Kaiser Sozhe with a white lab coat.

I started to ask Olga what the process would be and Olga who apparently had to catch a movie in ten minutes responded by smearing molten wax on my back.  “So, we’re beginning?”  “Yes.  Relax.”  Note: do not tell someone to relax after smearing hot wax on them.  She then patted a cotton strip on top of the wax.  I tried to buy time.  “Can you do me a favor, like have me count down from– HOLY CRACKERS!”  There it was.  I had tried to imagine what it would feel like to have a giant band aid duct taped to and ripped from my back, and I was exactly right.  It stung like hell.  I guarantee I will be able to hear that sound and feel that sensation in my head for the rest of my life.  Without taking a breath, Olga smeared the hot wax lower down my back: smear, smear, smear, pat, pat, pat, RIIIIIIIIP.  I didn’t know what to say.  I thought I would have funny expletives like Steve Carell did in the 40 Year Old Virgin, but I couldn’t think.  I told her it hurt.  She had a similar reaction to when I tell my trainer an exercise is hard and he says, “Yes.  It’s very hard,” except my trainer is kind and cares about me.  Olga is cruel and disconnected.  She tells me, “Yes, it is not a massage,” which must be something beautiful in Russian that doesn’t translate well.   I then try to look for any bright side: after feeling what seemed like a three foot long piece of gauze pulled from my skin and tossed into the trash like a piece of human sod I asked her if that was the worst part.  “No.”  Thank you, Olga.  The only respite came about halfway through– the part in ’24’ where the torturer asks a limp and bloody Jack Bauer if he’s decided to talk except in this case I would have told Olga anything.  “What, what’s going on?  Why did you stop?  What do you want to know, I’ll tell you!”  “You have a blackhead”.  “Oh, actually, I don’t think that’s a blackhead, I think that’s a little scar.”  Undaunted, Olga began to dig at it: “It’s deep.”  “Because it’s a scar!”  Finally she said, “Okay, got it.”  Either she managed to squeeze out my scar or a vertebrae but whatever the case, I welcomed the relief.

She proceeded for another ten minutes, unbroken except to ask me why I was laughing.  I said I didn’t know.  I was trying to think back on the good old days of my hernia test.  She then told me to sit up.  “Are we done?”  I looked at the white paper-covered table expecting it to look like the table from “Saw”.  She said she just had to do a little touch up work on my arms.  I told her I was fine.  Why I thought that would make a difference to Olga I do not know.  She then told me, “I guess I can tell you now that the first time you do this is extremely painful.”  YA THINK?!  It’s not like you sugar-coated it, Olga.  Then she said the worst thing she could possibly have said in that moment: “See you next month.”  “Pardon?”  “It lasts about a month.  Sometimes less.”  “ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”  Olga did not kid.

The curious thing about this “spa” was that there were no mirrors.  I would have to wait to go home to see the carnage.  Instead, I went to get a haircut, and while changing into the robe with the one snap on it that you’re never sure if it’s on the right way, I turned and looked into their version of the evil mirror and saw what can only be described as a freshly-plucked Polish-Lithuanian chicken.  It was awful.  I didn’t look like Lamar Odem and now I didn’t even look like a mammal.  All I could think about was poor Shawni who had the only job worse than Olga’s– she has to put soothing mint oil on my back after I shower or it will break out.  The only think I can hope for, the only thing at all, is that Shawni’s offer to take $3,000 to be with me is still good.



Written by 100daysoff

April 6, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

3 Responses

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  1. Devolution from bigfoot to hairless polish chicken. Great stuff.

    David Kantor

    April 6, 2011 at 8:55 pm

  2. Funniest day yet, IMO. I seriously laughed until I cried! You had me at “Yeti” but “freshly plucked…” sent me over the edge. A standing ovation for Jeff today! 😉


    April 6, 2011 at 9:53 pm

  3. This was one of your funniest yet. I empathized all the way through it. Does it still hurt??

    Marc Rosenberg

    April 7, 2011 at 3:15 am

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