Why I am reluctant to help newcomer expats settle in too much, too easily; rites of passage are important

Coming to Germany to live naturally meant plenty of sacrifice and change, a lot of which I found I could deal with. Books became twice as expensive and four times as hard to find. Television was all in German, DVD selections were laughable. Clothes didn’t come in recognizable sizes and nothing fit my ‘american frame’ right.

But what really gave me pause when I started to consider moving to Munich revolved around my hair: basically getting it colored or getting it off me.

Getting my hair colored has been a long oddessy of mishaps and nearmisses. There was also one incredibly hot summer where I almost cut it all off. Almost. The situation has steadliy improved and I would declare that emergency as well in hand (this is better chronicled elsewhere).

The second issue was located in the other hemisphere.

Before I finished school and left Berkeley, I was a full leg and bikini waxing addict. I had a great salon in Oakland that did the whole thing for $40. After two+ years invested in pain and exfoliation I was not excited at the prospect of either quitting or trying to translate/communicate about my ‘area’ to some German of dubious talent.

Germany is not famous for its beauty salons and spas. I figured there must be a reason.

Initial research failed to find a salon that did leg waxing for less than about $100. This was, and still is, a fucking fortune. Germans are cheap about beauty treatment – why wax when hair keeps you warm in the winter? It is hard to convince them to go to a salon, and their lack of attendance leaves the price sky high. Regardless of why, I didn’t feel I could handle the communication barrier and so left it at that. When I left the country I bought a razor and I’ve only looked back once since then.

And that was a huge mistake.

Two years ago I’d made plans to have a bikini wax just before my annual trip into the desert. I’d flown ahead of Oliver and scheduled an appointment the morning he was due to arrive. At the salon I got on the table, put on the silly paper g-string, and waited under a glaring lamp. In walked my beautician, who introduced herself with the thickest German accent I’ve heard. Anywhere.

Of all the salons in the world, I had to walk into hers.

We talked about what I wanted, I felt she understood me. I pushed aside a little nagging voice and decided to power through the procedure, it would be ok. She kept up a constant chatter through the whole thing, telling me about how she came to the US via Texas as an army bride. How her husband beat her, she left him and made her way in the world alone. The only pauses in her monologue were the grunts as she spread, slapped and ripped off the strips.
In my memory of waxings, it had never hurt so much. I soon found out why.

Let me preface this by saying that during a waxing one does not look at what is going on. It makes the anticipation of pain too real, and to lean in and watch someone work on my crotch just crosses my line of dignified. So I didn’t watch. One’s sense of location of said activity is also surprisingly general, I couldn’t have said at almost any moment where, E X A C T L Y she was working.

Until you look.

After she patted me with a big powder puff, I sat up, and looked down, and took a good long look.

At nothing. There was nothing. Wait…almost nothing.

Holy Führer’s mustache, that was all she left of me. I walked out of that salon, feeling, oh, literally sixteen years younger – or thereabouts.

Picking up Oliver at the airport the first thing he heard was that a ‘BIG surprise’ was in store for him. For three days after the naked sensation continued, forcing me to keep checking to see if in fact I did have underwear on.

Back to Germany and back to the razor blade.


2 responses to “Why I am reluctant to help newcomer expats settle in too much, too easily; rites of passage are important

  1. Does it ever cross into your memory that your father reads this things?


  2. Hmm… is that a request for more or less detail? 😉