I have never actively recruited friends before. Friendships are something that have been accumulated over the years. They have have been the results of sleeping on the same blue mats in kindergarten with her, being in the same brownie troupe, carpooling to school, a shared love of vagina-angst music, sharing a dorm room with five girls and one bathroom, selling jeans with him at GAP, being on the outside together, being on the inside together, serving chicken wings with them, sitting in the cubicle next to hers, planning a farewell party with her, or working with her boyfriend.
I have accumulated friends, like souvenirs, from all stages of my life. The mundane day to day results in friendships that sneak up on you and evolve until you realize (I have, maybe you too) that you don't recognize yourself unless you are first bounced off her. Your friend. With that collaboration not only are parties more fun, but your ideas are smarter, stories funnier, outfits look better, music is more intense, and the vodka is stronger. This is an elaborate way to say something I have said before: I miss my friends and it hasn't been so easy starting from scratch friendship-wise now that I live overseas.
Once I got over the initial shell shock of moving to Moscow, I stuck my head out of the sand (or Moscow Metro tunnel, as it were), looked around, and began actively pursuing friendships. This has been harder than dating. It is much easier to meet men (maybe I am naive here because I have been married for nearly 5 years) because it is acceptable to ask the question, "are you single" and get an answer and move on from there. Dating takes a definitive path. Friendships, not so much. There is a lot more guess work, and there is no friendship equivalent question to "are you single?", "do you have enough friends, and are you interested in one more?" just doesn't roll off the tip of the tongue as nicely. Maybe I am saying it wrong. One thing that does make finding friends in Moscow easier is, if I meet a girl around my age and she speaks English, we already have something HUGE in common. There is not a whole lot of English going on in Moscow. My ears twitch a little when I hear a feminine English-speaking voice, and I pounce like a rabid dog, careful not to muss up my hair or smudge my eyeliner.
This approach has been successful for me, so far, in meeting people. Now the friendship comes into play. There are a lot of steps between meeting and being friends, that I did not realize. Play dates need to be established, and some of these playdates may be outside my comfort-zone.
I was recently invited to a new acquaintance's house where the invitation stated she would be serving Macaroni and Cheese, and the Waxing Lady, Mona would be available for appointments. I just had to let her know two things, did I want my Macaroni and Cheese with or without meat, and what areas I wanted with or without hair. Wax and Cheese Party, if you will (say it, it sounds fun, yeah?). I RSVP'd with an inquiry about if we were only talking about facial waxing or if this Mona also did bikini area. I recently got my eyebrows done, and I do not have a need to wax any other area, but did want to attend for a chance at girl-friend-making, so this was a logical question, of which I was nervous about asking due to my lack of experience in the Wax and Cheese realm. I did not get an immediate response which added to my nervousness. Did I offend this poor girl who was only on a quest for her and her friends to have perfectly arched eyebrows? I had a lengthy discussion about this with myself. I tried looking up wax party rules and etiquette. Google is (not)surprisingly lacking in this area.
In Florida I have never been invited to a party like this. Food and drinks at a girlfriend's house after work? Sure. Going together for a spa day? Maybe once or twice. But never the twain shall meet. Unless you are trying to make new friends, in which case, 'yes I would love to, thanks for inviting me' is the phrase that pays.
I got a response. Yes, bikini wax is approved and common, I've attached the price list for you.
After work, 2 metros, one wrong turn, and a 45 minute walk (carrying a bottle of wine in my purse the entire time), I made it to the scene of the Wax and Cheese Party. I was happily greeted by several girls I had met previously and a few new faces. Aside from schlepping a bottle of wine, while lost, across town, this was off to a great start. Within minutes I had a glass of wine in my hand, and we were all fast on the road to friendship, discussing the types of topics I thought were only discussed on tampon commercials. I am typically more into modesty when the topics of periods and birth control arise, but I am already partying on the outskirts of my comfort zone, and these girls already know the state of all my body hair so let the good times roll. This is not a phrase I ever saw myself typing. But I guess I also never saw myself living in Moscow, stalking English speakers at Happy Hours and in malls.
Mona-the-wax-genie arrives with her crock pot of wax and sets up in the guest bedroom. The order of waxing is determined to go from top to bottom. So the first few girls go in, and come back out with less eyebrows. Next up is the first bikini waxer (not I), and a symphony of screams. I am getting nervous here. This sounds like the soundtrack to a rape in the guest bedroom and we are just happily chatting, eating spiced nuts, and drinking wine? Someone help my possible-new-friend! I just stay on the couch, hiding behind my wine glass (after two glasses I can fit behind the stem, I swear this), not sure if my possible-new-friend is a melo dramatic type or not.
I was next up. I barely had enough time to make eye contact with the first girl as I was ushered into the room. If I had, I would have noticed her strange gait and the wild look in her eyes.
I repeat to Mona what I wanted done. She is a monotone woman from India, who speaks perfect English. Mona instructs me to undress, waist down, and lay on the bed. She grabs me by the knees to yank me towards her closer and as an attempt to strip away my modesty. Not bad. She begins with the wax application. Wait a minute, is applying the wax supposed to hurt too? No that doesn't seem right. She tells me to calm down the crock-pot is unplugged and the wax is an okay temperature. Ouch. I am a silent victim. As she slathers, smoothes, rips, and powders, I am somewhere else. Um, this wax is still really hot. Oh, I am being a baby? That seems reasonable. Ok, I won't scream like my predecessor. I understand that will make this hurt worse.
She tells the last area of hair who is the boss, gives me a wet towel to wash up and leaves to wash her glove-less hands.
She returns with an ointment, tells me to slather it on and to stop trying to be modest.
I don't even inspect her work as I hike up my tights and shimmy down my dress. I notice a metal application stick laying on the bed. So a non-disposable METAL stick was why the wax felt so hot? Great.
I limp proudly to the living room and act like nothing happened. This will be our little secret.
When the party is over, The Screamer, walked with me back to the metro. A few minutes into the walk she broke the silence with a "What the FUCK was that?". A relief immediately washed over me.