The salon smells of hot air and coco butter. I sit and watch the women’s curly dark hair become straight. Piece by piece the heat of the dryers transform what is deemed unruly into idealized beauty. Pictures of Brazilian women hang on the yellow walls. Their brown eyes are wide, hair jet black, sultry, and shiny. I flip through an enlarged book of wedding hairdos and watch the old white woman in the corner admire her gray hair fresh off the rollers. She always wears a black rain jacket to the salon when I see her on Saturdays. I stare and wonder what brought her to this little enclave of Portuguese tongues.
“Heartbreak brought me here,” Nila says. “I wasn’t supposed to come, I should be married back in Brazil right now.” She asks me to raise my knees a bit, I spread my legs the way I do at the gynecologist. She lays the wooden stick in the bowl of hot wax and carefully lifts it out, blowing on it between words to calm the heat. “I was in love with my fiancé, we had broken up once before but this time it was to work, our wedding date was in three weeks, scheduled for the middle of November.”
Closing my eyes, I clench the pale pipe on my left and I listen to her stories as she strips away my womanhood with grace.