Inside the small beauty salon about six employees are painting each others’ toenails. They look like they were playing nurses and doctors about five years ago, but now their uniforms are pink and the plastic stethoscope has been replaced by an orange stick. The biggest of the girls actually notices my arrival and comes to check my appointment, then designates one of her underlings in pink to deal with me.
The girl is not pleased at having her pedicure interrupted. She manages not to roll her eyes and hauls herself from the customer’s armchair, gesturing lazily to a tiny cubicle directly off the main room. Getting waxed is not the most entertaining way to spend a half hour as it is. I slip off my sandals and swing my legs onto the narrow bed, hiking up my long denim skirt. I apologise about my dusty feet which jut awkwardly out at the end of the bed. She looks at them in wonderment.
How did they get like that?
I’ve been walking, I say.
Oh, she says uncomprehendingly.
Outside the mall, I feel it is necessary to add, you know, in the street.
Oh, she repeats, none the wiser. Then moves her attention to my legs.
But why are you here? she objects. You have no hair.
The fact is I am as hairy as a bear, a very hairy ginger bear. This is as hairy as I get, I tell her.
Oh, she says, but there’s nothing. Look, I say, running my hand through the furry blond forest, the same one I’ve been hiding for over a fortnight.
The girl shrugs perplexed. Apparently my forest is invisible to her. Still, she’s up now, so she gets out the wax roller and sets to work, not convinced that she’s using her time wisely.
You’re so white, she says.
Yes, I say ruefully, glancing at my blue-veined thighs.
Its so beautiful to be so white, she continues. Apparently, instead of her natural golden brown colour and dark mane, she would prefer gorgonzola legs and blush-happy cheeks. Pigs too have beige eyelashes, and it isn’t exactly ravishing. I fail to convince her however, especially since being fair seems to have the added advantage of entirely hair-free limbs.
When she’s spent enough time chasing invisible body hair just to please me, she swings open the door of the tiny cubicle and i flick my skirt back down to protect my aspirin thighs from the brown stares. I pay up and leave the salon with tufts of ginger bear hair still sprouting from my calves.