Having waxed the excess portions of my eyebrows a year ago, I found it necessary recently to do so again. It’s a slippery slope, eyebrow maintenance. You can’t do it once and forget about it for the rest of your life. You have to tweeze and pluck and groom quite vigilantly, and still visit a trained professional on occasion for a tune-up. It’s like joining a religion.
So it was that I went to a place that is very near the bottom of my list of favorite places, the mall. This was University Mall in Orem, Utah, a mall containing no fewer than five hair and/or beauty salons, yet a mall also containing no more than zero bookstores. (I do not consider Deseret Book a bookstore, as it is primarily an outlet for Mormon publications. Many of these are books, yes, but that does not make Deseret Book a “bookstore” in the traditional sense of that word, just as kids selling brownies on the street corner do not comprise a “bakery.”)
I chose which beauty establishment to patronize based on which one had among its employees a friend of mine who would give me a discount. Only one salon met this requirement, and thus the decision was easy.
The waxing went as smoothly as can be expected, given that it is a procedure in which abject pain and humiliation are inherent factors. My brow was red afterward, but that’s to be expected when you’ve applied scalding hot wax to your flesh and torn hairs from their roots. I would have been alarmed if my brow had NOT seemed a little abused.
What did alarm me, though, was when I arose the next morning to find my left eye and both earlobes swollen, accompanied by a scaly, leaky rash along my forehead. (See Fig. A) I’d awoken in various unsettling conditions before — nauseated; blind; upside-down; in Arkansas; etc. — but few as visually disturbing as this. It was a toss-up whom I resembled most: Sloth the monster from “The Goonies,” Jared Leto after he gets beaten up in “Fight Club,” John Hurt in “The Elephant Man,” or Eric Stoltz in “Mask.” (Whoever I resembled, it was definitely someone from a movie.)
I wasn’t panicked, though. Somehow I knew the situation wouldn’t be permanent, perhaps because everyone I’d ever encountered who looked like this had either been born that way, or had gotten that way through some obvious, violent means. If there were instances on record of spontaneous deformation, I was unaware of them.
Since the symptoms were localized to the areas that had come in contact with the wax (yes, I had my earlobes waxed, too — WHAT OF IT?!), I figured the wax, or perhaps the cleanser used to remove it afterward, was to blame. I’d had allergic reactions to things before, including to makeup I wore for a stage play in 1999, and to the vinyl wristband on my watch in 2003. So basically, I don’t like it when anything touches me.
I thought that if this was an allergic reaction, Benadryl might help stop it. However, I could not go to the store and buy some, because I was embarrassed by my appearance, more so than usual. So I made my brother Jeff bring me some, and I ensconced myself in the house, prepared to live the life of a hermit until the symptoms had faded.
This plan was aborted the next day, when I woke up to find BOTH eyes swollen, and additional swelling in the sideburns region of my face. (See Fig. B) I cursed the name of Benadryl (which is actually the name of a far-Eastern god, so I think I might be in trouble now) and drove myself to the nearby urgent care center, where I was given a prescription for some steroids, and then to the pharmacy, where I filled the prescription.
In both places, I relished the opportunity to be a monster, hoping to scare children and horrify adults. Sadly, no one looked at me. People were very good about not noticing my appearance, and they went about their business merrily. I ask you, what kind of country is this, where we’re afraid to stare at freaks? We’ve become so politically correct that when someone with puffy features and a lubricious forehead lurches toward us in a crowded drug store, we pretend nothing is amiss, when in fact something IS amiss: There is a person with puffy features and a lubricious forehead lurching toward us! Geez, you people!
Anyway, those steroids worked wonders. Within an hour, there was noticeable improvement in my swollenness, and I was 90 percent back to normal by the next morning. (See Fig. C) In addition, I was able to lift an automobile over my head. (See Fig. D) So, point of the story, hooray for waxing and hooray for drugs!
The events described herein occurred in February, and I wrote the column soon thereafter. However, I waited to publish it until I had fine-tuned it a bit, and because I wanted to have the necessary graphics to accompany it. My fat brother Jeff, a Photoshop whiz, was enlisted to help in the "Brad Pitt lifting a car" department, and he in turn outsourced the job to a talented reader by the name of Jerilyn, but in the end I went with something I had done myself. This wasn't because their work wasn't as good -- it was much, much better than mine, as I suck at Photoshop -- but because I hadn't clearly described my intentions to them, and thus what they came up with wouldn't have worked for what I was doing. And it was nearly the last minute by the time, so I had to do it myself. But it was good practice, and next time I'll delegate better.
As you can see from the photos, the allergic reaction totally gave me a double chin, too.