It was one of those text messages that you know you’ll save in your inbox for weeks to come:
“OH MY GOD MY VAGINA”
Baby’s first Brazilian wax.
Being more Lance Bass than Lance Armstrong on the exercycle, I not only picked up the text during my “workout,” but counted my laughter as my ab exercise (for the week) and gleefully typed back “mazel tov” as I jumped off the bike.
These five fateful words that popped up on my cell point to several instructive things involving contemporary sex and romance.
There’s the obvious Eve Ensler take on the whole ordeal. It’s no accident that this message reached me approximately 48 hours before Valentine’s Day (the recommended amount of time between wax-ion and action). Many of my female friends were having hot wax poured from here to neverland and buying lingerie that demands as much. Such are the ways of this Cosmo culture: apparently nothing says happy V-Day like a naked va-jay-jay.
Thank God I don’t work for Hallmark.
Additionally, her text was a perfect union of form and content. Texts get a bad rap for butting in where they don’t belong: impersonal birthday greetings, long exchanges that just leave aching thumbs, YouTube-famed drag-queen break-ups. My hairless friend, though, has mastered her communications media. Immediate enough to merit instant delivery and pick-up, succinct enough for a 160-character limit, the post-wax wrapup was textual perfection.
But most telling, in my opinion, is that I would even receive this message. The level of my involvement in her relationship is such that it’s only natural I should be kept informed of everything. And I mean everything.
We live in a world that normalizes, and even lauds, overinvolvement. Our fascination with celebrities obliterates the line between their professional and personal lives. Many academic advisors not only sign our schedules, but have students to dinner in their East Rock apartments. Parents not only oversee their children’s applications to cut-throat Manhattan preschools, but also to the Ivy League and Goldman Sachs. Admittedly, my own Helicopter Mom tendencies are to blame, but I’d been invested in my bald associate’s relationship from “Have you met my friend…?” all the way through “Oh come on, just take an Advil before you get to the salon.”
Along with all these other roles, the position of wingwoman (or man, or person, for those my-vagina-is-a-flower types) has expanded and changed. Gone are the days of the simple baseball coach-like winger or the dinner-party-hosting yenta.
People in our twenties should have seen it coming, since our movie and TV role models (and what other kind are there, really?) took winging from a simple barstool activity to a social life-consuming art form. Winging today is Monica and Chandler being so tied up in the Ross-Rachel debacle that they end up marrying each other; it’s Dionne taking Polaroids of Cher and checking the low-lighting; it’s every doctor at Seattle Grace ignoring patients to focus on their friend/roommate/ex/colleague’s sex life; it’s Will and Grace crossing the lines of heteronormativity to wing like prime time’s never wung.
Real-life wingers have gotten more creative. A few weeks ago, a determined wingman interrupted my roommate and me in a restaurant on College Street, “Excuse me — have you ladies ever been to the Bellagio?” He then proceeded to show us, Vanna White-style, an amber-colored glass panel in the wall of the bar behind us, and introduce his friend Joe, who promptly produced a business card and slid it in the direction of my cocktail napkin. Now, I have been to the Bellagio, and what is essentially a tinted and textured window at a New Haven bar is a far cry from a ceiling full of Chihuly’s blown-glass flowers. That’s like me pointing to the awning at ABP and asking, “Have you ever been on the Champs-Elysées?” Furthermore still, anybody who disturbs my enjoyment of a $12 martini with anything but an offer to buy me another has got to go. It didn’t hurt that Joe’s work phone, as listed on his exceedingly dubious card, was an 800 number. And that he was ugly. Oh, and that I’m not looking.
But I digress. Tenacious and innovative, the wingsters themselves have gotten as bold and brazen as a Brazilian. My best friend, who lives in Portland, Oregon, had a one-handed midget wingman (I shit you not) try to rope her in for his pal at a neighborhood hangout since she was obviously both “classy” and “Jewish.” How could she say no?
My friend was picked up at a party last weekend, and although she was flattered that this guy noticed her without the involvement of her friends, she feels naked without wing-support (nearly as naked as my text-happy friend, I would venture to say). So, she and I discussed it, and we’ve decided that the next step in winging is just going to be letters of recommendation. If it’s getting to be such an integral part of set-ups, dates, relationships and sex, we might as well formalize the practice. So, if requested, I will compose 500 words on your unique character attributes and assets as a human being and romantic partner, notarized and sent express to the potential object of your affections. I may charge a nominal fee, but it’s cheaper than a wax.
Sarah Minkus is soaring with the wingmen.