Throw In the Rust-Proofing and Undercoating, Too, by Becky Clark

This chapter from the novel “Banana Bamboozle” by Becky Clark placed in the

 top ten of a comedy writing contest.

            The salesgirl held up two choices for Cassidy. “The Don’t Despair lifts the tush and supports the midsection. The Magic Miss Miracle is more of a bust-to-knee—”

Cassidy grabbed it. “The Magic Miss Miracle. Perfect. Ring it up.”

“Don’t you want to try it on?”

“It comes in Missus, right? Or maternity? It’ll be fine. I believe in miracles. And I need one.”

“What about an outfit? Where are you going?”

“Mexican restaurant.” Cassidy mentally ransacked her closet. “Do you have anything guacamole-and-salsa-colored? Never mind. No time.”

Cassidy was fifty-two years old and getting ready for her first date since before the birth of Justin Bieber. Before Monica Lewinsky decided she needed a new blue dress. Before Joey Buttafuoco became the buttafuoco of jokes.

After gasping at the price and reluctantly handing over her credit card, Cassidy flew to the day spa and burst through the door. Four indistinguishable blonde 20-something girls waited for her in the reception area. Cassidy didn’t slow as they surrounded her like androids and quick-marched her through gauzy curtains. She wouldn’t have been surprised to see a contrail behind them.

“We heard it was crunch time. Cleared the schedule. I’m Emma, I’ll be doing your manicure,” the first one said. “Ellie will be doing your pedi. That’s Ellory, in charge of waxing, but we’ll all help. And that’s Alice. She’s on tanning.”

“My own pit crew. Let’s get these tires rotated, ladies!”

They began in the waxing room. Hot wax coated her from all directions. She flinched rhythmically as hair was ripped from her body. Cassidy forgot to remind them of the private neighborhoods in her personal municipality that didn’t need the Public Works Department. At the last minute, Cassidy convinced them to use only the trimmer around her Recreation Center. They argued, citing traffic concerns, but finally conceded. When they flipped her to her stomach, she saw the pile of hairy muslin strips on the floor like so many cartoon moustaches.

When they were done, they helped her off the table. She took a wide stance and they went to work with spatulas and bottles of oil, scraping off the sticky bits like she was a pancake griddle.

The four girls worked silently. Cassidy hoped they were concentrating on the job but realized they were probably rethinking their career choice. Nobody jumped out of bed and shouted, “Yippee! Today I’m going to inspect an old lady for stray body hair and wax bits.”

Emma handed her a robe and led her to a dimly-lit room where soft classical music played. A steamy tub of vanilla-scented water beckoned. Ah, this is more like it. Emma pointed out the best soap to remove the oil, then left. Cassidy stepped into the tub and sank into its warmth.

As her muscles considered relaxing, there was a rap on the door. It opened immediately. “Ready for you,” Alice said.

“I just got in. I haven’t even soaped up yet.”

“Okay.” Instead of leaving, Alice squirted some spearmint botanical soap in her hands and rubbed them together. “Left leg.”

Cassidy raised her left leg out of the tub and Alice soaped it from mid-thigh to between her toes, making Cassidy giggle, despite the seriousness of the situation.

“Left arm.” Alice grabbed Cassidy’s hand and soaped from wrist to tricep to armpit across boobage to belly button and back again. Again, Cassidy giggled, even while willing herself not to.

“Right leg.” Soap, giggle, rinse.

“Right arm.” Soap, giggle, rinse.

Alice handed her a soft cloth, pointed to her face and commanded, “Scrub.” Cassidy did as she was told while Alice pulled the plug in the tub.

“Stand.”

Cassidy stood.

Alice took the shower nozzle and sprayed her, rinsing stray soap bubbles down the drain. She held out a towel. “Dry.” When Cassidy was dry, Alice helped her back into her robe and led her to the tiny spray tan room. There was just enough space for the two of them to maneuver on the 4 x 4 canvas tarp stained with dozens of shades of brown. Alice handed her a paper thong and a hair net. Cassidy stared at the thong. “You’re worried about my modesty now?”

Alice shrugged. “Ever had an airbrush tan?” Cassidy shook her head. “Stand like this. Arms like this.” Cassidy mimicked her. “When I say ‘Face’ that means I’m doing your, you know, face. So close your eyes, hold your breath, and do your lips like this.” Alice tucked in her lips and so did Cassidy. “Ready?” Cassidy’s tucked lips could only manage a weird bleating noise.

Alice fired up a hand-held device that looked like a garden hose attachment for poisoning weeds. Cassidy stood as directed while Alice painted her body with Bronze Buff. When she finished, about twenty minutes later, she shut off the compressor. “Fifteen minutes to dry.” She turned on banks of box fans, stacked floor-to-ceiling on three sides of the tiny room. “Stand in front of the fans with your arms up until I come get you. And don’t scratch. Even if you itch.”

Cassidy wasn’t itchy until that very moment. Fifteen minutes is an eternity when all you can think of is not scratching. Finally Alice came back with a very lightweight — and except for a few well-placed butterflies and flowers — mostly see-through sleeveless shift. Cassidy grabbed for her robe but Alice got to it first. “Too heavy. Ruin your tan.” She helped her into the shift and Cassidy snapped it up the front.

The final stage of her transformation was her mani/pedi. Emma worked on her hands, Ellie on her feet. They soaked, scrubbed, polished and buffed while Cassidy sat in the massage chair and got kneaded, pummeled, smoothed and soothed.

Four hours and twenty-seven minutes after rushing through the door of the Head to Toe Day Spa, she rushed out again and headed home to finish getting ready for her date.

Those enchiladas better be worth it.

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