Putin's Putang Vs. America's Favorite Bush
The woman who gives me bikini waxes is trying to lead me into a seedy life of petty crime.
Her name is Bella. She comes from The Old Country, where women look like men and family pets get eaten when times are hard.
Our relationship is very complicated.
It used to be that I would just lay back on her crinkly, paper-covered table. She would then smile her gap-toothed grin at me and say, Slavik-ly, "Tek ov yooerr oondahvar."
Having no idea what she had just said, with my upper lip already sweating in anticipation of the pain, I would typically reply with something like, "I know. I wish it would stop raining."
Since Bella already thinks I am a sex-hungry American girl with a thing for pain and an odd distaste for body-hair, it was pretty much fine with me if she also thought I was stupid. Besides, you don't know "awkward" until you've tried to make small talk while a Russian woman with a moustache looms over you and covers your genitals with hot wax.
Generally, then, our total inability to communicate suited me just fine.
Lately, however, Bella has had a hankering to reach out across the great international divide and establish better relations between our two nations. It is possible--communications from The Old Country being what they are--that she learned only recently that the Cold War had ended. In any case, in her special way, she has decided to send out an olive branch.
So now, we have the following conversation each time I see her.
"Yooo haf beoyfrent?"
"What? Oh. No, no I don't have a boyfriend."
She is persistent.
I can only assume she hopes that I am putting myself through this hot-wax skin-ripping torture because there is a large, gold-chain-wearing man somewhere who will only wife me if I have the vagina of a ten year-old girl.
I imagine that if I replied--after struggling for some few minutes to understand what the hell she had just said, "Yes, Bella, I do have a boyfriend"--she would be just tickled pink.
(I have to interrupt myself here to say that I am laughing my ass off at the thought of Bella being tickled pink. If you knew Bella you would understand this. Bella has never been tickled. Ever. Tickling Bella pink would be like tickling Mikhail Gorbachev pink. It would be a fucking laugh riot.)
Anyway, if Bella was familiar with the expression, "newfangled" I'm sure she would apply it to my relationship with this imagined beefy boyfriend. As long as he put bread on the table and washed his hands after milking the goats, vat vood eet mahter zsat he laik hees vomen to bee laik leetle gurl?
Indeed, Bella. What would it matter.
However, since whenever Bella inquires after the current state of my lovelife, I respond, "Nope. No boyfriend," she is utterly perplexed.
"Ow auld, you?" she will ask me next.
"Huh?" I will say, wincing in anticipation of the pain.
"Ow -auld- you?"
"Ohhh," I bite back a scream, "Same age as last month, Bella. Twenty-five."
"Put hant heeyer. Pooel skeen."
"Yooer husbant, he die? He leef yoo vit behbie?"
RIP. rip. rip. rip.
"Ahhh. Wooh. That was a doozy. Um, no, never married, Bella."
This answer displeases her.
"Ald oon von meynute," she'll say.
Then--though I am presently laying on a table in a flourescently-lit room with my knees by my ears and my legs spread akimbo--she will open the door W I D E (and by "wide" I mean, ALL THE WAY) and step out. I will raise my head and smile dimly at the faces of the people in the hallway who have just seen my bare ass. For a brief moment I will be thankful for the searing pain in my loins that has sent my brain into shock and dulled the humiliation I would otherwise surely feel.
Bella usually comes back a second later carrying something innocuous like towels. This act doesn't fool me for a second; we both know that she's just taken a few nips at the old wodka bottle. My singlehood drives Bella to drink.
It is somewhere around this time that Bella decides that I am probably a hooker.
I don't blame her. My dutiful waxing is insane. Even more insane, in fact, than Bella even realizes. For, while she thinks that I wax my nether-regions because I am the recipient of a lot of manly love-action, I know that tearing the hairs out of the most sensitive region of my body with continuous, violent, ripping motions, is really more of a wishful-thinking kind of ritual for me.
I am sometimes even tempted to explain to Bella my true reason for undergoing this tortuous hair-removal process. I am, after all, not without some small knowledge of the Russian language. In my opera days I sang some doleful Rachmoninoff arias and, were I to dig through my memory hard enough, I am sure I could recall the Russian words for "deep yearning for a man." In my fantasy, I reveal my pain and loneliness to Bella in perfect Russian, and she sobs, gives me the waxing for free and then we go out for a night on the town with her red-faced husband Vlad.
However, it is far more likely that I would just fuck up my pronunciation or my translation and end up accidentally hitting on Bella, which--given the, erm, circumstances (Naked. Akimbo.)--would be easily the most awkard situation to happen since, well, ever.
Not exactly a fool-proof plan.
So, having decided that I am possibly a prostitute and definitely a twisted mother-fucker who gets off on genital mutilation (Being from The Old Country, Bella is not afraid to judge.) Bella decides to pull out all the stops and make herself an extra buck or two.
Bella closes the door behind her. The mood in the room changes perceptibly. I am afraid that Bella is about to try to sell me crack.
She bends down to my ear and whispers conspiratorially, "Yoo vant stoomache wayx?"
"Cohst extrah. Yoo peh Beylla."
I am bewildered. First of all, why all the whispering? Second of all, do I actually have hair on my stomach? Eeew. I raise my head to see. She interprets this as a nod.
"Owkeh," she mouths, pointing at the door and the ceiling.
I begin to panic. What? Is the room bugged? Are we being--oh God. Is this on tape? Am I on a grainy video being broadcast throughout the former Soviet Union with my legs spread wide open for any fat man with a million rubles to see?
I am, apparently, entering The Bikini-Waxing Black Market. I wonder briefly if Bella will ask me to follow her into a back alley where she will try to sell me counterfeit Nair.
Bella, apparently, has done this before.
She continues in an even softer voice, "Beylla vill ehsk, 'Yoo vant wayx stoomache?' Yoo seh, 'No Beylla.'"
This last is accompanied by a series of shh-gestures and pointing towards the ceiling, the door, me, her, my stomach, etc.
I am truly terrified now. As I follow Bella's pointing finger, it is becoming obvious that there must be cameras everywhere. The Soviet Eye of The Bikini-Waxing Black Market is all over this room. Possibly even in my belly-button.
"Yoo vant wayx stoomache?" Bella asks in an artificially loud voice, which she projects toward the air vent in the corner.
The plan, I guess, is in motion.
I imagine KGB officers sitting just behind what I realize now must be a two-way mirror.
"No, Bella!" I say. My voice is overly bright and forced. It is not my best work. I'm nervous.
"Goood gehrl," mouths Bella.
She then proceeds to wax my stomach, all the while winking at me and saying softly, "Cohst extrah. Yoo peh Beylla."
When my (I guess totally hair-covered?) stomach is finished, Bella bends in again.
"Peh joost Beylla. Beylla du laig? Du thighe?" she offers.
What am I, a Yeti?
I begin to sit up.
She makes frantic shh-gestures with her finger.
"no, bella," I lower my voice. "i am not that hairy. i can just shave my legs. i feel kind of bad about this. i'll just pay the salon. it's no big deal. thank you, though."
"Beylla du laig. Vill be moore behyuutivul. Yoo no see hayer. Foor yoo onlee leetle beet extrah," she mouths, beginning to adjust my leg and giving the back of my thigh a meaningful look.
I am not that hairy. I will not let her make me feel insecure. I will not believe that on the back of my thighs there is some sort of gorrilla-fur that I have conveniently blocked out through a strange and rare psychological combination of denial and astigmatism, but which Bella's eyes alone can see....
"No, Bella. I don't want it. I will do it myself. Thank you," I force my leg back from her grasp.
"Beylla du laig." Another meaningful glance at my leg. She reaches for my thigh.
Hmm. Invisible gorrila-fur. Stranger things have happened. I waiver.
She senses that victory is near.
But then, I remember that I only have a twenty. I rebound.
"No! No, Bella! You! Will! Not! Win!"
She reaches for a body part with wax dripping from her terrible popsicle-stick waxing tool. I dodge and twist, praying that I leave this room with both my eyebrows. It becomes a veritable wrestling match. I imagine somewhere in the ceiling the cameras are on "Record" now, with the KGB officers hidden in back already printing out labels that read, "Putin's Pootang vs. America's Favorite Bush."
In the end, however, her meaningful glances are no match for my poverty.
I roll off the table and grab for my oondahvar.
"Maybe next time, Bella. Thanks a lot, though."
I pay her a few dollars extra for my black-market stomach wax. I feel dirty.
But that will end soon enough.
I'm seeing her again next week Thursday and will be sure to bring along extra cash so she can take care of every last bit of the invisible gorrilla-fur.
Hey, during a sexual dry-spell a girl can't afford to take any chances. I mean, come on.