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Warning: The following post contains innumerable amounts of over-sharing. You have been warned.

My mom brought up an old friend yesterday. It was an accident. And it was awful.

“Ask Jodi if she knows anything about a hair removal system that just came out,” Judy began.

First, allow me to explain. My friend Jodi is an esthetician and I get all sorts of questions like that to pass on to her.

Ask Jodi what’s better: tweezing or waxing?


Ask Jodi if I should be using a toner?

Not unless you have really oily skin.

Ask Jodi if she can take a look at this weird rash I get around my waistline after I go jogging.


(And before she calls, emails or leaves a nasty comment on this blog, that last question was NOT from my mom.)

But back to Judy and her quest to find a revolutionary hair removal system.

“Epicurious? No, that’s not it. Epigone? Epi-Be-Gone?” Judy continued.

Stop right there.

If you are a woman who reached puberty sometime in the 80’s you know where I’m going with this and your blood has probably run just as cold as mine did when I realized what she was talking about. This blast from the past rushed towards me and bashed me in the face. Probably took a few of my immaculately waxed brows with it.

“EPILADY???” I shouted into the phone. “Oh no! My vision is tunneling! And I’m driving!”

“That’s it,” Mom answered casually. “You know it?”


“Who, Honey, who?” Mom asked. I would have thought she was concerned if not for the rat tat tat sound of her fingernails hitting her laptop’s keyboard. Sounds like…Hearts. Maybe Mah Jong.

“Epilady!” I yelled again. “Don’t you remember that thing you gave me for my 12th birthday? It was a horrible little device that promised to remove hair—for weeks—if not forever! She promised, Mommy!”

“Well, ask Jodi to get me one. Can she get a discount?”

“Why aren’t you listening to me? You don’t want one!” I was practically having a nervous breakdown here! “That thing was evil! Evil, I tell you! Why didn’t you just let me shave my legs like a normal mom?”

“How could I let you shave when you were still playing with Smurfs!” she said. “Besides, there were better options than shaving for a girl your age.”

“The other options sucked,” I told Mom.

And it was true. While some of my friends were stealing cigarettes from their moms and condoms from their college-aged brothers, I was pining away for Lady Bic. If Judy didn’t put the fear of god in me, I’d have pocketed a few of those little pink-handled treasures and hid behind the garage with a bar of Dial soap and the garden hose. But no, she had me believing that once you started shaving your legs, you’d spend 97% of your life shaving your legs. Like instead of going to college, I’d be stuck shaving my legs. Can’t take that Caribbean cruise because I’ve committed to shaving my legs! Nope! I was sleeping but I had to wake up to SHAVE MY LEGS! And curses, Judy, if that isn’t the truth!

Okay, People, want a little more TMI? Fine. Here’s the deal. Some girls can get away without ever picking up a razor until they’re in college. I have friends that have still never shaved above their knees. I am not those girls. I am half Italian and half Lebanese. You figure it out.

As for these other options? Remember Nair? And Neat? (And guys, even if you didn’t use the products yourself, certainly you would remember the stench. Kind of like rotten eggs meets butyric acid.) Or… OMG, Jolen bleach? Can’t type now! Need to go roll around on the area rug to make the itching stop!

“Help! It buuuuuuuuurnnnnns!!!!”

“What burns, Honey?” Judy asked.

“I’m having a flashback. Never mind.”

Judy sighed. “It was better than walking around with Ace bandages strapped to your shins from all the shaving gashes you’d have given yourself.”

She’s probably right, but sadly, shaving gashes aren’t resigned just to teen girls. That reminds me. I need more Ace bandages and antiseptic.

“Even so, Ace bandages would be far superior to the bright yellow pelt my pre-teen shins were covered with after a Jolen session.”

“It was not bright yellow,” she said, but she was also laughing her face off so I knew she remembers it well.

“It was!” I said. “I looked like the offspring of Snuffleupagus and Big Bird.”

But back to that wretched Epilady.

This device and her empty promises!
Smooth, baby soft, hair free body parts without the hassle of shaving!
Without the stench of toxic hair removers!
Without the pain of waxing!
Without the embarrassing bright yellow pelt!
Stubborn hair would be removed in minutes and you’ll be hair free for weeks! Maybe months! Maybe forever!

Yes, I was seduced by the siren call! Yes, I wanted the Epilady. Can you blame me?

Oh blessed day in early February, when Epilady showed up in the bathroom I shared with my mom. There she was, still sealed in the box with a little note on it that read: “For Moo. Love Mom.”

My mother really did love me. No, no, I knew she loved me before, but this meant she really loved me. And maybe felt bad for genes I was stuck with. And holy cow. She must really not want me to use a razor, I thought.

Without further ado, I changed out of my two-toned jeans and into a pair of shorts and got busy with Miss Epilady in that upstairs bathroom. I started just above my right ankle. A seemingly good spot. And then—

I’m sorry. That’s all I remember. Why? Because the mother-freakin’ Epilady HURT SO FREAKIN’ BAD THAT I PASSED OUT. Like blacked out. Could have been for days! You know that instinct your brain has when the pain becomes so unbearable it just shuts the lights off and goes home? That’s what happened. And when I came to I was curled up around the base of the toilet like I was a crumpled, yellow-pelted toilet scarf. I had 4 red hives on the spot just above my ankle.

If you haven’t had the misfortune of actually using an Epilady, allow me to enlighten you on how it works. The Epilady grabs your fine hairs, wraps them around the rotating coils and yanks the s*%t out of them by the root. It’s like one by one by one. Each. Hair. Wrenched. From. The. Follicle. Until you pass out from the pain.

When I came downstairs after the Epilady incident my mom was making dinner. She didn’t notice the hives just above my right ankle or the imprint of shag carpeting on the side of my face. She didn’t even make a face when the familiar stench of depilatories overwhelmed the pot roast. She just asked me to set the table and call my brother to fill the water glasses. It was business as usual.

Epilady went the way of the dodo in my house and I’m certain the houses of any poor girl who tried to use that thing. I stuffed her into the very back depths of the linen closet, under old towels and heating pads and half empty tubs of generic baby powder. I buried her and her ugly promises for long lasting, silky smooth skin and her maniacal coils and ergonomically designed handle. When my parents sold that house—the home of my childhood—I’m sure the Epilady went with it. I hope the new residents burned sage before moving in.

And now like a phoenix, she rises again. Just like G.I. Joe and The Transformers returned to freshly carved out spots on the bookshelves belonging to the boys I grew up with, Epilady makes her command performance. She’s arrived just in time for women in my generation to pass her on to the young, fuzzy girls in their life. Nice one, Epilady, but you can keep knocking. My linen closet ain’t answering.

“So no, Mom, you do NOT want an Epilady,” I concluded. “Take it from me.”

“I think you owe me $40,” she said. “That was a lot of coin for 1986.”

“I think you owe me years of therapy,” I said.

“Ain’t that the truth!” she answered. Are we still talking about the Epilady?

I was still in a tizzy after we hung up. I hadn’t thought about that stupid device in decades. I calmed myself down like I always do: took a few deep breaths, imagined myself in a Corona commercial, and gently rubbed that incredibly smooth, hairless, baby soft splotch of skin just above my ankle.

Shelly Mazzanoble

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