You might recall my eyebrows were waxed into a state of Permanent Surprise back in September. It's taken all these months for them to revert to their usual feralness. Not wanting to risk Lynette The Ripper again, I scoured the Yellow Pages for somewhere new.
I'm somewhat wary of Beauty Establishments here in Scotland. I've not had much luck. Take hairdressers, for example. It took me two and half years to find a goodun. After three lopsided chops from a curly-haired Kiwi, I jumped ship, oddly enough to another Kiwi. He became known as the Nicholson Street Butcher and we must never speak of him again.
And then there was a third Kiwi, who was a genius and restored my faith in her people. But she disappeared after three cuts, deciding that the grass was greener back in Auckland.
So I moved on to a Scottish lass, who was quietly spoken but deadly fast and accurate with the scissors. Which suited me fine, because I don't go there for the banter. It was all going beautifully until I showed up for a colour one day only to be told abruptly that she, "No longer works at this establishment".
After sobbing briefly that the good ones always leave me, the head stylist assured me it wasn't personal and tended to my locks herself. It wasn't until a few months later when we'd built up that inane hairdresser/hairdressed repartee that she casually mentioned that my former stylist had been fired for repeatedly showing up drunk. And by the way, she was now in jail for attempted murder! She'd stabbed her boyfriend! How deliciously sordid.
But… but… what about all those times she'd asked me in hushed tones, How bout I chop off another inch? What was that? Practice?!
Anyway, there I was last week in the waiting room of my chosen New Place. It was dead charming, like walking into a teenage slumber party. There were comfy old couches, wooden floors, magazines and ladies with cotton wool stuffed 'tween their toes as they waited for polish to dry. I would have been content to sit there all night reading, and was almost annoyed when the Wax Mistress called my name. She was smiley and she had red hair.
"So what can I do for you?"
"It's the eyebrows. They sneak up on me all the time. They're pale and hard to spot, and they switch from neat and tidy to pure mental overnight. I can never catch the bastards!"
"Tell me about it!" She pointed to her own ginger brows.
Maybe it's true what Gareth says about the Ginger Understanding. There's a scarlet-locked baby living in the flat upstairs that we refer to as the Ginger Bairn (where ginger = redhead, and bairn = baby in the Scottish vernacular). Ginger Bairn recently learned to walk. Actually, it bypassed walk and went straight to run, and spends its days galloping round on the cursed laminated floors.
"Shauna!" Gareth will often scream above the din, "Will you please go tell the Ginger Bairn to sit down?!"
"Because it will listen to you. Just talk to it, Ginger to Ginger. It will understand its own kind!"
This Wax Mistress certainly understood her own kind. All the perils of gingerism. The paradox of the pale eyelashes yet the crotch so lurid it can be seen from space.
"I had a bad experience last time," I said.
"Oh? What happened?"
"I was butchered. My husband said I looked like the headlights on the new Mercedes. My expression was locked on 'surprised'."
"How surprised are we talking?"
"Like, surprise tinged with alarm."
"Like, surprised like the plot twist in The Crying Game?"
"Well I won't let that happen again," she soothed, "You're more suited to a slightly thicker brow anyway. Now just lay back here and I'll sort everything."
Every other brow wax I've had was over in a minute. A perfunctory brush, a slap of hot wax, a rrrrrrip, then a brief exchange of many pounds. But this woman took her time, all seriousness as she combed and measured. Did she brutally rip the stray hairs with wax, or did she just coax them out with some sort of musical interlude, a la the Pied Piper? I can't recall.
"Your brows have a fantastic natural arch to them," she cooed afterwards, massaging lotion into my flaming forehead, "They're really lovely."
"Oh cheers," I mumbled. Take that, bitches! Finally, something to feel superior about. Bums may shrink or widen, and breasts will rise and fall, but eyebrows are forever!
The whole experience was magic. My brows were tidy but not anorexic. And instead of dismissing me with a bored wave then nicking oot the back for a fag, the Wax Mistress helped me with my coat and waited politely while I fumbled with my hat and scarf. She even held the door open and wished me goodnight!
The biggest shock was that it cost four pounds less than the old place. That's two pounds less per brow! Value for money and stellar customer service in Scotland, all in one day! This was definitely an anecdote I would store up for when I next met up with expat Australians and we sit around eating cake and making bitchy generalisations about our adopted nation.
Yes indeed, my complete surprise would still be registered on my face today, a whole week later; except of course the brows don't do that anymore.