Even though to admit it is an embarrassment akin to acknowledging a crush on your typing teacher or a secret fondness for eating clay, I do own up to having read all of Dan Brown’s books. I don’t think that makes me a bad person–I also read cereal boxes, the tiny print on tins of shoe polish and whatever else is in front of me written in English. I take in printed words the way most people take in oxygen. So, anyway, yes, I’ve read all of them–bad as they can be in their own fun “romp through factoids” way.
Because of these books I have been reminded over and over again that “sincere” means “without wax”. Brown (or his wife) dug up this nifty fact somewhere and became so enamoured with it that he recycles it in every story. You know there will be some point where an intrepid Harvard Professor-slash-adventurer will have to whip out a lighter to melt the wax off some ancient artifact to reveal another clue. This is because it is more fun for them to do these sorts of things than it is for them to go to the internet and google “Symbols of Freemasonry”–which is where all Brown’s (or his wife’s) information comes from, really.
So, anyway, back to me and wax.
When we first moved to Nashville and were flat broke (seriously…we had zero money), we went to this cheap hair cutting place next to the grocery store. It cost like $6 to get your hair trimmed and for us that was a fortune. But you’ve got to spend money to make money and we couldn’t hold down jobs looking like the Deadheads we really were. So we went to this place we’ll call CheapClips. It was a franchise, but the main stylist was a woman I’ll call Flossie. She aspired to be an entrepreneur, and her station was always overflowing with tchotchkes for sale. In the years we went there she sold Beanie Babies, handmade dolls, magnets–if it could be merchandised by tacking it up around her mirror or taking it to a flea market on Sundays, Flossie sold it. Eventually she bought the CheapClips from its original owner and turned it into her own personal parlour of eccentricity. We went there because it was close and cheap and she was motherly, after a fashion.
She did have a deep devious streak, though, which I tried for all those years to overlook. We’d go in for a cheap cut and she’d try to sell me on the latest Beauty Treatment. Every time–EVERY time–she’d say “try it once–I’ll do the first time for free.” And after I had my eyebrows waxed or my facial pores steamed or a fancy new deep conditioner applied to my hair with the promise of freeness she’d conveniently forget the offer of no-charge when ringing me up. More than once I walked out smelling like furniture polish and $5 poorer. More than once I had to skip a meal or two because her “free” treatment cost me. The worst time, though, was her offer of a free treatment in her new paraffin hand spa. It was the worst because I finally found the gumption (I used to be pretty easy to steamroll when I was younger) to tell her that I wasn’t falling for her “it’ll be free” trick. It was also the worst because even after she assured me that this time she would not “forget” her promise, I ended up being charged $18. When I faced her down she explained that she was not charging me for the Paraffin itself–that would have been an extra $2. This was for the time and the hand massage and the lotion. She grinned like a cat as she told me this. I paid her the dratted $18 and never went back in the store again.
Years later, stricken with arthritis, I’ve been advised by nearly everyone–other patients, nurses, doctors, phlebotomists, the guy who brings my UPS packages–to try a paraffin bath. But EVERY TIME the subject comes up all I can think of is Flim Flam Flossie and her devious schemes and all the generic cans of tomato soup I had to eat because of her wiles.
Then last week, during one of the worst weeks I’ve had in awhile as all four of my major ailments crested together into a tornado of blood and pain, my husband came home bearing a…yes…Homedics Paraffin Hand Spa. I’m writing this epic while I wait for the wax to take the 2-4 hours to melt. The most galling thing? Before writing this I looked up the cost of wax refills and it seems that while the machine itself is not all that pricey, the wax costs more per ounce than beef. So, really, Flossie DID kind of cut me a sort of break by not charging me those $2.
I’m still a bit miffed about it. But I suppose my hands will feel better.