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Sun, Nov 14, 2010
The Sunday Times
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From hair to bare

Do not scream. Do not scream. Those words are running through my head when Miss Queen Chng, 23, therapist at Strip in Mandarin Gallery, applies the warm wax on my soon-to-be fuzz-free legs.

'Some men scream,' she says, when I ask her for funny customer stories in a bid to keep the rising panic under control. It is as if she has read my thoughts and wants to hush me pre-emptively. It works.

She lays the first cloth strip on the cooling wax on my shin and with a yank, the first step to freedom from fur is taken. I used to moan about my genetic inability to develop a manly carpet, but no more. Less hair means less pain during waxing. There is a sting, but it is tolerable.

And as the 15-minute removal session for both legs progresses, that sting recedes to almost nothing. Legs done, on to the fingers. The joint�above the knuckle can be hairy for some, but I have a light, downy layer. Or rather, had one. It vanishes, pain-free.

As I walk away from the salon, for the first time, the rough texture of the inside of my jeans becomes known to me. Suddenly, I feel vulnerable, like a frontiersman without his beaver hat and fur coat.

Later that night, I go on a bicycle ride. It is hard for me to gauge the speed. It might have something to do with how there is a need to subconsciously feel wind blowing across the leg hair, so as to feel a sensation of motion. In my mind's eye, my ex-strands wave gently, like sea anemones in the ocean current.

There is research to show that body hair evolved because it serves as sensory antennae. Like a force field around the body, the nerves at the root of each hair strand can sense the landing of a mosquito or other parasite, or in my case, act as a speedometer.

The following night, I go for a swim at the pool. It may have all been in my mind, but I slip through the water faster, now that my lower half is as smooth as a dolphin's flank.

Getting my legs de-fuzzed has not been a life-changing experience, perhaps because on my body, the transition from hair to bare is not a great leap. A sharper contrast could be felt with a - gulp - boyzilian.

Not yet though. The garden might be overgrown, but it is another thing altogether to turn it into a parking lot.

John Lui

This article was first published in The Sunday Times.

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