Fiction and Poetry 3am Magazine Contact Links Submission Guidelines




Laura Cutler

Naked, but for a Red Deer College '91 T-shirt that was hitched up to my ribcage, arms and legs flailing like a June Bug on its back, I oscillated between watching his bespectacled approach with fear and wariness and barking instructions like a drill Sargent.    


"Remember to put it on thick!  Check the clock before you start!" 


Inches away from smearing my privates with toxic pink goo, he froze.     


"I don't think I can."  He looked neither deep into my eyes, nor deep anywhere, focusing instead, somewhere over my left shoulder.  "No," he concluded, "I definitely can't."    


I lowered my legs and propped myself up on my elbows.  "Yes you can! You have to help me.  The last time I tried it myself I ended up looking like a trichinosis victim.  And I nearly zapped off my magic button."   He looked forlorn now.  "I can't.  I'd never be able to look at you the same way again."  


Heaving myself straight up I snapped, "Of course you can.  How do you think gynecologists do it?  They have wives to go home to, you know."   "But you are my wife," he pleaded, putting down the paraphernalia like it was an active grenade.  "I'm not supposed to know how you get beautiful, I'm supposed to just enjoy it.  I'm certainly not supposed to take part in it."    


"Oh, bull-tooties," I admonished, flopping back down.  "Find me where it says that in the Good Book."  My poor young Reverend husband loved me dearly I knew, and I him, but nothing in seminary school prepared him for marrying a wife with a life long dream of lounging on a Caribbean beach wearing three of the teeniest triangles of red Lycra possible.


I had, however, since meeting and marrying him fourteen months previous, made my position repeatedly and crystal clear. "Fine, get out then or I'll smear some on you."    


"Sorry, honey," he offered weakly before scuttling out the door. Shortly, I heard the TV click on and strains of cheering fans in some arena. Even Preachers get to a point of needing a testosterone boost, I supposed.    


Since it was his first congregation, we were as far into Creation as could support a church.  It didn't help that our old Volvo had recently died and due to the financial constraints of the imminent vacation, we'd opted to abandon Old Moses in the church parking lot until a (much) later date.    


Consequently, the one shop in town that might have been able to fulfill my request was so old-fashioned it still called itself a "beauty parlour." There was no funky chrome and glass, only pressboard partitions.  No techno-pop was pumped in from unseen speakers; only good old Joe Ramsey, local DJ extraordinaire, announcing Carpenters' songs from the AM radio in the corner.  Maeve cut and blow-dried - that is, stuck you under the big spaceman hood; Josie permed and coloured, providing you wanted a blue afro and Ginny swept and poured Nescafes.  They were all over one hundred years old.    


I sauntered in later that afternoon and casually studied the board above the simple cash register, having not set foot in the place since they'd done my up-do for my high-school graduation dance.  That was 1984, when I was a fresh-faced seventeen, and I still managed to look like Jackie Onassis on a very bad hair day.  Ever since, I hacked away on my own and treated myself to a city cut whenever I was in one.  Any city at all.


Needless to say, it was a pretty basic price and service list: cut and blow-dry, set and comb-out, colour rinse, perm, long hair and perm, short hair.  Manicure had been added in felt pen at the bottom.  Aaaah, I thought wickedly, somebody went on course.  God forbid the concept of acrylics be uttered in their presence.  "Other services by request", also in spiky, felt pen writing, caught my eye.    


"Maeve," I tried nonchalantly, "what are these 'other services' you gals provide anyway?"    


"Well, it's no kind of hanky-panky!" she answered vehemently.    


That hadn't occurred to me and I wish she hadn't brought it up.  I would carry around the vision of motley Josie in her fortrel pantsuit, baby-oiling a towel-clad Mr. Peterson from the Chevron station for weeks.     


"I'm sure it's not," I smiled brightly.  "Just wondering what you've added to your vast repertoire of beauty regimes."    


She narrowed her narrow eyes at me.  "What are you looking for, Deidre?" She obviously hadn't forgotten that I stormed out in tears without tipping her in June 1984.  


"I'm asking what you're offering, Maeve."     


The drug lords of Columbia couldn't be cagier.     


"We tweeze."    


 That sounded like a long and painful process, considering what I wanted tweezed.     "Tweeze?"     


"Tweeze brows, dear."     


I looked at hers dubiously.  Hers were in perpetual, penciled-in surprise.    


"What else?"     


"We dilapidate unsightly hair."     


Aaaah.  Now we were getting somewhere. 


"I think you mean 'depilate.'  But what do you depilate?"  


Sensing her answer would be, 'unsightly hair, I said unsightly hair', I quickly rephrased. 


"Where, where do you depilate?"    


Her eyes were now mere slits.  "Ladies' mustaches, of course.  Where else?"    


"Ladies' mustaches!" I repeated, disheartened.  "Of course."  I let a beat go by.  


"Do you wax?"     




"Wax.  Legs.  And such."    


"And such?"     


"DO YOU PERFORM BIKINI WAXES?" I exploded, suddenly not caring what the request did to my reputation as the Good Reverend's Wife.


"Šcalling occccccccupants of in-ter-pla-ne-tar-y, ex-tra-or-din-ar-y, craftŠ" crooned Karen.    


Maeve pursed her lips.  "No.  We don't do that type of thing here."  Her lips then totally disappeared inside her face as she explained the salon's stance on such capital offenses.  "We don't have anyone who wishes to become that intimate with anyone, it being such a small town and all.  You would have to go to the city."  Šif you want to be violated by a depraved mind in such a way, went unsaid.    


"Okey-doke," I chirped, suddenly feeling my Levis were made of Saran Wrap, my sweatshirt of loose mesh.  "Just thought I'd check.  Bye-bye now, Maeve."  Giving a chaste nod to Josie and Ginny who were peeking out from their respective cubicles, I backed out of their Mecca of propriety-in-beautification.    


It was the Devil incarnate who said through Maeve's mouth, just before I was out of earshot, "See you in church on Sunday, Deidre.  In that front pew for the Reverend's wife."    


And so, my botched self-job, the archaic salon and my husband's squeamishness left me as cranky, not to mention, wooly, as a bear in March. We were leaving for Bermuda in two days.  I hadn't worked out and starved all winter to wear a sarong, bike shorts or stay wrapped in a towel with my knees pressed together.  I was going where no Reverend's wife had gone before and I wanted to be little-red-bump-free to do it.    


I wore my most pristine dress on Sunday morning, knowing the preacher's wife's wish to deface her God-given body might have spread through the three counties that arrived for services.  It may have been my imagination, but it seemed the old biddies pursed, the mid-lifers looked on in bare tolerance, the young mums commiserated and the older teens looked at me with a whole new respect.  A respect I hadn't managed to draw out during the leading of my six-week Teen Crusaders course last fall.  It was after the sermon that young Chelsea Durham sidled up to me.    


"Mrs. Lithgow?" she whispered urgently.  "Mrs. Lithgow! I need to talk to you."    


Thinking she needed a chat about the ramifications of self-pleasuring or perhaps that a boyfriend was responsible for one of the town's four unsolved crimes, I led her quickly into my husband's office.     


From her Bible -- somewhere between Leviticus and Deuteronomy guessed my practiced eyes -- she pulled out a slip of paper.    


"Here," she said conspiratorially.  "It's the number for my cousin Shelly.  She's an esthetician in the city.  She can do the job."  Chelsea lowered her voice even more.  "The job you need doing."    


I studied her solemn eyes.  "Ah, that's very kind of you to look into, the job, for me, Chelsea, but I'm afraid I don't really have enough time left.  Joey Sykes is driving us to the city tomorrow afternoon, to an airport hotel and the flight's the next morning."    


"She's got her own shop.  She'll open it up for you if need be, I already asked."     


Suddenly, the number of people envisioning, in one way or another, my scalped or bushyŠbush, was most disconcerting.  "Chelsea, it was just, well, just so darn kind of you to look into this for me, but I'll just, um, take the Bic to my, er, to It."    


"Gosh no, Mrs. Lithgow!  You'll have little red bumps for days and then regrowth before your vacation's even over!"     


I didn't know whether to hug her or demand she burn all her Cosmopolitan back-issues, her only readily available source of such information that I could think of.


"I think it's really important, Mrs. Lithgow.  All the girls do.  We think you've just got an awesome body and you're pretty cool too, for a Reverend's wife and well, you should do it for all of us stuck in this winter Hell-hole.  Heck-hole," she quickly corrected, flushing.  "I'll call my cousin back and she'll come right to your hotel room."     

I was speechless.   


 "It's okay, she'll do it no problem.  She owes me because I'm the only one that knows why she went to Seattle so suddenly that summer."    


I sighed, my forays into thong bikinis now utterly tame in comparison to what else went on behind closed doors.    




"Do it, Mrs. Lithgow!  Do it for all the young people who Maeve made look like those Golden Girl chicks for their first dates.  Do it!"    


"All right.  All right!  Make the call, Chelsea Lee.  We'll be at the Ramada Airport Inn anytime after six tomorrow.  I'll be waiting."    


"With legs splaaaayŠ" she started in a singsong voice.     


"Enough, Chelsea," I warned.


Chastened, she added authoritatively, "I'll tell her you want the Full Brazilian."     


"The what?" I asked, feeling weak in the knees and vulnerable in the crotch.    


"The Full Brazilian!  It's like, the only way to go.  One inch by two," she crowed knowledgeably, drawing the auspicious shape in the air.     


"The Full Brazilian," I breathed, thinking about getting stoned by the Elders at some point down the road, if not for this, then something else. "Yes.  The Full Brazilian it is!"


The Lord works to bring our dreams about in mysterious ways, indeed He does.





The End.





Laura Cutler has an electic background which includes time as a uniformed police office, lentil seller, hotel manager, world traveller and ESL teacher.  She is eagerly awaiting the fall publication of her first collection of short stories called "Out of Her Backpack" in October 2001.

home | buzzwords
fiction and poetry | literature | arts | politica | music | nonfiction
| offers | contact | guidelines | advertise | webmasters
Copyright © 2005, 3 AM Magazine. All Rights Reserved.