Saturday, September 26, 2015

"So Pretty It Hurts"

Ok, so you guys know I'm a truck driver. And I've mentioned Molly several times. She's the one that's taken on the challenge of trying to help me better my life so that I can live up to my full potential. I thank her for that. It's certainly no easy task. To her credit, she's told me many times that she loves me as I am and wishes other people could see me as I am in her eyes. 
I'm hoping to remain lucky enough that she sticks around for a long time. After this past weekend I'd say she's in this for the long haul. Which is good since she's a long haul trucker. 

I've always considered myself "a work in progress". I just didn't know that the work was gonna be so...intensive. (Author's note: the following account is purely self inflicted. Though Molly loves me as I am I REALLY wanted to make a good impression on her dad and I didn't want him to think she's dating a bridge troll. Any man knows "meeting the parents" is a big deal.)

I've gotta give credit where it's due here. Women are tough. No disclaimer, no sarcasm. A simple statement of fact. And I'm not just talking about child birth but what they go through regularly like it's no big deal. Hats off to ya, ladies.

This past weekend Molly and I met up in Pennsylvania to take some time off. An exciting weekend is planned: I'm going to meet her dad. A big step in most relationships. 
Obviously, I want to make a good impression. I want to look my best and be on my best behavior. Neither of those are easy tasks for someone like me.

In an effort to look my best I brought along my "normal people" good clothes. No stains, no rips, nothing that reflects the slob I usually am. With any luck I'll be able to keep them clean for the weekend. This may require Divine Intervention. Who are we kidding? It WILL require it. 
But there's more to looking nice than just wearing the right clothes. Apparently looking nice requires deliberate effort and a degree of planning. Great, two things I definitely don't excel at. 

We meet up, get some laundry knocked out and have dinner. In the morning we will pick up the rental car and start our adventure. I'll be on my way to meet her dad. Surprisingly, I'm not even slightly nervous. 

Next morning we pick up the car and mosey our way down to Baltimore. We'll begin the prep work for "the meeting" then stay at a hotel before finishing the trip. Why the delay? Because we both know it'll take a full day before I can be integrated into society. Gotta ease Grog into this. I'm still not nervous though. 

So when we get to Baltimore we begin the transformation from caveman to "civilized". A few beneficial cosmetic adjustments and I'll look semi human in no time. "Grog not sure what to think about this. Grog fear change." Oh, it'll be alright. How can you be such a frightened caveman? Toughen up. It'll be fun. I just kept telling myself that. 
Fun, or so I thought, would start off slowly and work its way up. I'll just start off with paying for a haircut. Simple enough. I rarely pay for one for myself. Usually I just let it grow for about 6 months then shave it down to bald and start over. Cheap and efficient. 

"What's with all the choices? They're scaring me, Molly. Heeelp!" She reads all this just by the look on my face. When we got to Great Clips all I wanted was "just give me a guy's haircut." How hard can that be?
Apparently there's a whole menu now. Tapered in back, tapered sides, what number blade, sideburns off or on, blah blah blah. The list was seemingly endless. 
I'm pretty sure I looked like a fox in a leg trap. Had there been restraints in the "stylists" chair I'd have put them on myself. A "stylist". Aren't there just good old fashioned barber shops anymore? The kind I went to as a kid where I'd get a lollipop for sitting still long enough to keep from losing skin while I got my ears lowered? I've never missed them as much as I do at that moment. 
Grog was frightened of the lady wielding the clipper machine thing who kept asking "but what style do you want?" Grog no want style. Grog want haircut. Why lady no listen to Grog? 

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, the stylist and Molly had my hair looking right. If I'd thought it out in advance I would've just brought in a picture of J. Jonah Jameson and said "do that to my hair." Choices. I don't do well with choices. 
But, thankfully, my keeper is better at this than I am. So I spent the better part of the day just grunting approval and it went fairly seamlessly. Only a couple tasks left on the overhaul now that my mane had been tamed. 

"Ready, honey? I think you're going to enjoy this. It's like a massage for your hands." That's how I was introduced to the world of the manicure. I knew womenfolk went to some shaman who did something to make their nails pretty. So I'd suggested maybe they could fix my fish catchers. 
I also knew that the hands say something about the man and I'd read that women like men who take care of themselves. So I figured it couldn't hurt as I sat down to begin the declawing process. 

I'm not familiar with this ritual so I didn't know if the look of horror on the nail lady's face was normal at first. "Maybe she's just calling others from her tribe over because they've never seen a man in here before." I was hopeful that was what all the hubbub was about. It didn't take long to figure out there was more to it. 
I had 5 women standing in front of me with looks on their faces like they'd just spotted a yeti. Shock, surprise and horror all mixed into one look, the lady in charge of my paws kinda looked towards her tribemates and shrugged. There was a brief discussion in Korean or some Eastern language but I distinctly heard "dremel" at one point. I think they'd also just realized their standard menu pricing had just cost them a huge loss on this job. 

As one lady was calling around to landscaping companies for advice the first lady whipped out some industrial strength clippers. I have some weird way of metabolizing calcium so that my nails have the strength of granite so I'm thinking she was contemplating garden sheers. 
With two of these tiny women lifting themselves off the floor trying to trim my claws we got the job underway. They finally settled on first soaking my hands in some chemical seemingly designed to dissolve animal flesh. That softened the skin and nails just enough to let them do their job. 

Part of a manicure is cleaning up the cuticles. This essentially removes them. And everything trapped in them. Like a decade of "trucker funk". Which, I suppose, is why several of them equipped themselves with surgical masks. I knew I was a little rough around the edges but I didn't expect the hazmat team to show up like that. 
After tagging each other in and out several times they were making progress. As one lady would be covered in sweat and crawl away another would take her place. There were shouts all over the place as people were ducking the shrapnel flying from my hands. I even heard one waiting customer gasp as she saw my armadillo fingers. Molly had to chase away one lady who was coming at me with a belt sander. I'm sure it looked like "Edward Scissorhands Takes Shop Class". 

But these little samurai chicks were just getting warmed up. I'll admit I admired their tenacity. They chopped away, scraped and dodged as they steadily worked on the mess that was my mitts. 
As they worked I noticed them periodically pointing at my eyes and exchanging glances. Not familiar with the language of these oriental witch doctors I was clueless until one made a Chewbacca sound and they all laughed. Ah. My eyebrow was the topic. Gotcha. 
So these little ninjas wanted to do something with the porn 'stache that is my eyebrow. Yes, I use the singular because I'm aware I've got just the one that stretches nearly temple to temple above my eyes. "That camouflage. It help Grog hide in bushes. Grog carry bush on face." Nope. They weren't having it. 

Well, if I'm gonna make a good impression then I probably don't want to show up at her dad's with a bird nest on my forehead. Sure, let's clean that up a little. If they've got hardcore tweezers I reckon I'll let them give it a shot. Hopefully the root system doesn't go all the way into my brain or something. Eh, it'll be fun. Still not even a little nervous about meeting Molly's dad though I may be a little nervous about this next level of prep work. How bad can it be, right? 

They usher me to the back and into a nice, comfy chair. My head is leaning back a little and I'm thinking I could just nap while they pull a few hairs. In decades of fighting I've certainly experienced worse, right? 
Wrong. I was so very, very wrong. But I didn't know that yet. As I leaned back I felt them put something warm and wet right between my eyes. Presumably more of that muriatic acid they'd used on my hands. I figured they were just softening my pelt right there. To be honest, it was kinda soothing. 

I caught a faint hint of chocolate and thought they were preparing a treat since I'd been cooperative for the manicure. That's sweet of them. I'll have to remember to tip them; they've been through so much already. I even asked them, "is that chocolate I smell?" Yes. Yes, it's the scent of chocolate. Yay!
They rubbed me a little between the eyes, right where they'd put that warm spot. Wow, I'm really getting pampered here. No wonder women like it. They pet you and feed you chocolate. I should remember to buy Molly a spa treatment since it's so nice. 

My thoughts were interrupted by a countdown as they stopped petting me. I was thinking, "why are they counting down? And why are they giggling as they do it?"   That's when it happened. Just all at once there was a searing white pain right between my eyes. Oh dear Lord, I've been shot! With molten lava! What is that burning?! 
I sat bolt upright, nearly crushing the nose of this sadistic Oni. If she hadn't been rocking backward in laughter I'd have certainly connected with my forehead as I shot up. 
Chocolate? Yeah, chocolate scented WAX! This lady had just ripped a chunk of hair out with that stuff. There was no treat. I'd been deceived. They were trying to flay me! Oh, the pain! The agony! What have I just agreed to?! 
And they weren't done yet. But now I was committed because, for all the abuse, they'd only done a small, angled patch. These strategic little she-Devils had made it so I now had no choice but take more torture. 

Five of them clambered onto my shoulders to try to hold me down and force me back into the chair. I was looking around the room for a fire extinguisher. Certainly there must have been flames from the friction of them ripping my skin off. My forehead was on fire. 
They assured me there were only 2 more spots and they'd release me. "You look good when we finish. I promise." You promise?! Your promise is no good, you just violated our trust. I was just beginning to like you before you ripped part of my face off. 

Finally I relented, knowing I definitely couldn't show up looking like THIS now. I had no choice. Fine, 2 more spots and I'm done. Couldn't they gas me down first or something though? 
Another chocolate rub, this time right across the eyelid. Please, dear Lord, tell me that spot is less sensitive. I'll be good from now on, just give me this one wish. Nope. Denied. 

A crowd of the other patrons gathered as the lady rubbed the next strip on. All the women, customers and torturers alike, waited with bated breath as they began the countdown again. 

"3..." Wait. Wait. Can we negotiate? Please? I beg of you. "No. Sorry. Wax is already on. 2..." Wait. Wait. What if I pay you double? Can you just hit me with a hammer first? Make it swift and painless? "So sorry sir. Almost done now. You look good when finish. 1..." 
Riiiiiippp! Women dove for the floor like I was slinging grenades as I shot up out of the chair. There was a deafening roar that echoed as the windows rattled. One woman fainted, another got a nose bleed from the shock wave of my screams. Never had I felt anything like this! It was like washing my face in an active volcano! Had there been a fire I'd have stuck my face in it to cool myself off! 

I was afraid to try to close my eye because I was certain my entire eyelid had been seared off. They still had to do my right one?! Were they serious?! Please tell me we are doing shots of 151 after this. At the very least let me slip into shock and pass out. 
As they cautiously prepare to mangle my other eyelid I try to relax myself. I know it's going to hurt but I have this thing about symmetry so I can't leave with just one done. I remind myself that, mercifully, that'll be the last bit. 
As the last strip comes off I howl at a volume that nearly shatters all the windows up front. Air raid sirens sound muted in comparison. Two more women drop, bleeding from the ears and another rushes outside to call for emergency personnel. A couple of teenage girls were laughing to the point of tears and one of them made a point of telling me she gets her eyebrows waxed regularly. I think they were implying I'm a wimp. I stagger out of the chair, drop to a knee as I fight off nausea and tears. I've done it. I've survived the eyebrow holocaust. Now I understand why Molly says "beauty is pain". It hurts to look this good. 

As I weakly regain my footing Molly approaches and gives me a kiss as she smiles. The tears in her eyes are from her fits of laughter at my reactions to this torment women put themselves through regularly but I tell myself it's from sympathy for me. 
Hopefully tomorrow the swelling will be down enough that I'll be ready for presentation to her father. If not, I'll try to gain his sympathy by telling him she beats me. What's nauseating me the most is that, after this ordeal, Molly tells me all she wanted to do was clip my nails for me as she shows me the clippers she'd bought earlier. Oh good, I way overshot. But, hey, I apparently look better now. I better. I'm still not nervous about meeting her father. 

Right up until we pull into the driveway I'm convinced I'm not the least bit nervous about meeting the man who I may, someday, ask permission to marry his daughter. Once we hit that driveway the nerves hit so hard I nearly puke on myself. My hands shake uncontrollably, my legs become paralytic and my vision starts to swim as I open the car door. We are going to be staying here for 2-3 days....but that's a story for another day.