This week has been all about exploring uncharted territory. Firstly, there's the bottom of the dirty washing basket, which I haven't seen for over a year. Very satisfying to find all those odd socks. Secondly, I've got to know the inside of my local beauty salon. Thirdly, my new friend Valentina, the beautician, has got to know an awful lot of me.
Like every Spring, I decided to start getting my legs waxed, ready for Summer. Unlike every other Spring, I actually phoned and booked an appointment to have it done. Having my legs waxed is part of the Great Italianisation Of Self project: in my head, it's up there with getting Italian citizenship and knowing when the asparagus season is. Chic Italian women do not fumble around in the shower with a blunt Bic razor every morning and if there's one thing I want, it's to be mistaken for a chic Italian woman.
It's not the fist time I've had my legs waxed. My mum treated me to a leg wax when I was sixteen and I was so traumatised (thanks mum) that I didn't make any further forays into the world of grown-up depilation until I was twenty-one and decided to wax my own bikini line. I bought the strips and read the instructions which suggested doing the waxing in a warm, relaxing environment. My flatmate was out so I commandeered the living room, put the TV on and turned the gas fire on full blast. Half naked, sweating and nearly fainting from the fumes, I stuck one strip on and then took twenty minutes to find the courage to pull it off. I think they heard my screams in France. I couldn't face repeating the kind of agony that I hadn't expected to encounter till childbirth, so I went around lopsided for a few weeks.
Now, aged thirty, I decided it was time to try again. I called my local beauty salon and stuttered something about 'legs' and 'wax'.
'Do you also want your inguine done?' the beautician, Valentina, asked. I hesitated, no idea what inguine meant but not wanting to fail this first test of my Italian-ness.
'Yes', I replied firmly, I hung up and then immediately went on Google to find out what inguine meant. Maybe it means 'big toe', I thought (I have the feet of a Yeti, another stumbling block to Italian-style grooming). Unfortunately, I had heard her say linguine which is a kind of pasta and not something you'd want to apply melting wax to. I fiddled around with the spelling and eventually got the horrifying translation of 'groin'. Images of me writhing in agony on my living room floor in front of Eastenders nine years before flashed before my eyes. Still, in for a penny, in for a pound of hot wax.
Well, I can safely report that I survived - although there are parts of my body which may never forgive me. I knew it would be tough when I walked in and Valentina told me to take off my trousers and put on the most pointless paper thong I have ever seen. She has now seen more of me than my gynacologist and I could barely look her in the face as I stumbled out with my eyes watering an hour later.
This was one week ago and thankfully my other half doesn't mind the freshly-plucked-poultry look (now starting to fade and become a lot of ingrown hairs that hurt when I get goose bumps). Apparently, I have two to three weeks until I have to repeat the experience.
Unfortunately, I don't feel very Italian yet, just a bit itchy.