Thursday, September 16, 2010

A journey to the meaning of pain...

“The main thing is not to cry,” he tells me, then reels a length of thread off a roll, snaps it off and ties the thread into a loop.

He is Daniel, a large Egyptian man. The last time I was here I only wanted a haircut, and we discussed middle-Eastern politics for a solid hour. It was a long hour.

This time it’s going to be longer. This time I’m doing a presentation for a grooming client. I need to be impeccable. There must be not a pecc to be pecced on any peckish part of me. Impeccable.

So I’ve come for the full package. The haircut, the cutthroat razor traditional shave, and something called “eyebrow threading”.

Macho to the max, Daniel will tolerate no crying in his salon, not during the eyebrow threading. So I’ve gotta be brave. I’m not even sure what exactly Daniel is doing. He leans in close to my face, brings the threat up to the region of my eyebrow, and then there’s a white flash of the most exquisite pain. Good grief! It’s like a laser beam has sliced off a line of flesh from my upper eyelid.

Everything goes a bit blurry as I realise exactly what I’m in for. It’s like dentistry without anaesthetic. A cold sweat condenses across my forehead.

“Not too sore, no?”

Er, no. It’s cool.

I’m lying, this is the most pain I’ve experienced since the great shingles episode of 1998. And I’ve got another ten minutes to go!

Eyebrow threading apparently originated in the middle east, which is why middle-eastern women have such impeccable eyebrows. Those are tough women. Strong women. Women prepared to endure the white-hot pain of twisted thread tearing hair from their faces every few weeks.

Those women have my undying respect.

But the scary thing is that men have a lot more hair on their faces than women. We have tufts growing out of our ears, for god’s sake. Nostril hair! There’s that downy virgin hair beneath the eyes, just above the shaving line.

And all of that must be threaded if a man is to emerge impeccably hairless enough to impress a bunch of grooming clients.

People, people. You have not felt pain until a large Arab man has turned your nostril inside out, twined all your nostril hairs up in sewing thread and then… pung! Torn the lot of them out by their roots.

Cry? By the time he got to ripping the hair out of my earhole, I was weeping onto Daniel’s shoulder like a jilted bride. It was like getting twelve fillings at the dentist, except the fillings were all over the soft parts of your face!

I still had the haircut and the cutthroat razor to look forward to, and we hadn’t even started discussing middle eastern politics yet.

The next day I would be delivering a presentation to a room full of grooming execs.

Hell, by the time Friday arrived, I had earned those beers.

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