MIDWAY: Beauty tips

Sometimes a woman’s gotta do what a woman’s gotta do. So it was, on an ordinary weekday morning, I got a sudden desire to see what this ‘pedicure thing’ was all about. The woman at the beauty salon took one look at my ‘pedicure virgin’ feet, stifled a scream, and sent me downstairs with a beautician, who muttered what may have been ancient curses as she sliced away at my heels with something like a potato peeler. Finally, the offending articles were plonked to soak in a ticklish spa, and I was left alone, scarlet-faced and ashamed, to reflect upon my sins against feet or read a celebrity magazine, whichever was less taxing.

At this point, I became aware of the curtained cubicles all around; specifically, the bizarre sounds coming from within them — strangled sighs, sharp intakes of breath, beseeching gasps. From one cubicle there came a whispered ‘No, no.’ From another, a woman emerged walking as if she’d just ridden a horse bareback from Acapulco, and the horse was still there. Suddenly the penny dropped. This downstairs bit wasn’t just for feet, it was also where the waxing was done. And not just any old leg or eyebrow waxing; that kind of waxing; you know, down there. Women know all about ‘intimate waxing’. Ask them about it and they get hard-set looks on their faces. Where waxing is concerned, thoughts of revenge are every woman’s right. You daydream about going straight to a chemist’s, buying several packets of home wax strips, going out on to the street and sticking them on to the backsides of every man you meet. Only straight men, though. A lot of gay men already do the ‘back, sac and crack’, which, if anything, sounds even more horrific than what happens to girls: not just bikini lines, but Brazilians (a ‘landing strip’) or Hollywoods (‘Everything must go’).

Here I was in a beauty salon and, aurally, it could have been a torture chamber. A part of me felt like charging behind the cubicle screens and rescuing these women, Bronson-style (“Put the warm wax and spatula down, and nobody will get hurt”) or, considering the really deep groans, asking if anybody needed a priest. Of course, in the end I did nothing. I just tiptoed out on my newly beautified feet, wincing just a little in sympathy.