{the life} Better Left Unsaid

by Rachel on July 3, 2012

So, I’ve been avoiding my waxer ever since I got engaged.

Eyebrow maintenance ranks pretty high in my list of priorities; when I’m in need of a wax, it totally changes how I feel about my appearance. I notice a couple errant hairs in the morning and later that day, I’m calling the salon for their earliest appointment. It takes a lot for me to put off having it done. But apparently, for me, hiding my engagement from my waxer trumps looking like a beast.

Let me be clear: I really, really like the woman who waxes my eyebrows. She does a fantastic job and she’s super, super nice. I really don’t mind making small talk with her, even when I’d rather just sit there quietly. But…she’s also the only person who’s ever asked me when Eric and I are getting engaged. Or, more specifically, when he’s going to propose.

I think we can all agree that there are a lot of things wrong with that question and it’s just not a question you should ever ask people. I know other people deal with it a lot, so I consider myself very lucky. I was somehow able to avoid that question the entire time Eric and I were dating and living together…except when it came to my waxer. It’s not that I couldn’t have explained to her that I didn’t even want him to propose or that I found that question overly-personal and rather sexist. It’s just that I didn’t feel like it.

A conversation about being engaged shouldn’t cause that much anxiety, but I had a feeling that if someone was already making me uncomfortable by asking me when Eric was going to propose, the conversation that took place after we got actually engaged was going to be pretty painful. A lot of people expect you to follow a specific script once you’re engaged — you better have a partner of the opposite sex, a proposal story, a big-but-not-too-big ring, a wedding date, a wedding venue, and wedding colors ready to share within five minutes of getting engaged — and I know that I am a massive disappointment when it comes to fulfilling my part in that script. It’s not that I’m not happy about getting engaged…it’s just that there’s not a lot to say about it at this point. And as comfortable as I am with the decisions Eric and I have made regarding engagement, I don’t enjoy watching people’s faces fall when I don’t live up to their expectations of how a woman should act when she’s engaged.

Soooo I decided to take the mature route and just avoid my waxer! There was a time when I went every two weeks, but after Eric and I got engaged, I extended it to a full month. As I drove to the salon for the first post-engagement appointment, I was mentally preparing myself for the conversation. I braced myself for her excitement and her ensuing her rapid disappointment when I told her I didn’t know where or when we’d be getting married. But when I pulled into the salon I decided to just…not tell her. I thought that maybe if I hid my hands then she wouldn’t notice. I’d tell her if she asked…but until then, I wasn’t going to volunteer the information. Brilliant plan, right?

And somehow, you guys, it actually was a brilliant plan because she didn’t notice. I walked out of the salon feeling great about my eyebrows…and rather satisfied over the trick I had just pulled.

I kept this up for three months. I would wait as long as possible to go in for the appointment, and then once I did, I’d just be really discreet about where I put my hands during the wax. I was aware that each time I went in and didn’t tell her could make it more awkward when I did, but I ignored that thought and stuck to my plan. I never took my ring off completely. If I did that, what would I tell her if she asked me when he was going to propose? That we were already engaged and my ring was…in my pocket? No. I had to leave the ring on. It felt like this huge secret; I’d walk in there feeling jittery — could I pull it off again?! — and then I’d walk out and let out a huge sigh of relief. Every time my eyebrows started to grow in, I’d consider finding a new salon, but my vanity and bank account prevented me from doing that. My eyebrows looked great and cost very little; I wasn’t willing to give that up. But I knew it wasn’t going to last forever. Eventually I’d have to come clean about this thing that was absolutely ridiculous to keep hiding.

Today was the day it all came to an end. I had just come from yoga so I actually had a perfect reason to just take my engagement ring off completely. It seemed like a sure thing. But when I sat down, and I saw her glance at my left hand, I knew my little game was all over.

She had just spread wax on my first eyebrow when she cut to the chase. “So…any idea when your boyfriend is going to propose?”

I WAS TRAPPED. TRAPPED WITH HOT WAX ON MY FACE. MY LIFE WAS IN HER HANDS.

“Oh,” I said, my voice rising about ten octaves. “We got engaged back in April.”

All I could think was, Please don’t get so angry with me that you take off my whole brow! 

There was surprise. There were some squeals. There was at least one “Why didn’t you tell me?!” But honestly, once I confessed, it really wasn’t that bad. She asked when the date was and when I told her there wasn’t one yet, she opted not to go down the fantasy wedding route. I don’t know if the fact that I didn’t tell her for three months made it apparent that I didn’t want to talk about it or if the lack of a date was such a wedding bonerkiller that she just gave up on me.

I left the salon feeling awesome about my eyebrows but feeling kind of shitty about my lie of omission. I consider myself a very honest person, so why did I go to such lengths to avoid telling her I’d gotten engaged? Was that conversation really that much worse than the overgrown eyebrows I’ve been experiencing ever since the engagement? But I don’t know that my behavior was that unusual. I’ve read a couple of great articles recently — “The Next Adventure” on A Practical Wedding and “On Pregnancy and Privacy and Fear” on The Rumpus — that talk about really similar experiences during pregnancy, and I’ve been relieved to find out, through blogs and blog comments, that I’m not the only engaged woman who feels uncomfortable about telling people about the change in her relationship status, who avoids sharing it with strangers or even acquaintances. (And it’s not just women who feel this way. A couple months ago, Eric got a phone call and, after listening for a minute or two, told the person on the end of the line he’d have to talk to his wife about it. When he hung up, I said, “And who, may I ask, is this wife you mentioned?” And he said that he didn’t feel like saying fiancée because it’s a silly word that invites a lot of questions, so he just said wife to avoid the conversation. And, ya know…I got it.)

After thinking about it some more, I realized that I avoided telling my waxer I’m engaged for the exact same reasons I often avoid telling people I’ve lost a ton of weight or talking about my dad. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable or embarrassed by the situations…it’s just that I don’t feel like managing the other person’s reaction to this new information. I know people mean well, and are genuinely interested, so I want to be up front with them, even if it means dealing with questions that make me uncomfortable. So I often find myself in that moment when I know it would make a lot of sense to just say, “Oh hey BTDUBS while we’re on the topic of [gay parents/dead parents/parents/daddy issues/Father's Day/etc.] just FYI my dad was gay and he died of AIDS.” But I know if I do that, they inevitably end up apologizing for not knowing, or for calling something gay like five years ago, and they just feel like such an asshole that somehow I end up apologizing, and then they have a million questions, and, well, it’s a pretty fast way to ruin everyone’s lunch, I’ll tell you that much. And not planning a wedding right now is, oddly enough, a lunch ruiner for a lot of people. I don’t mind writing about my feelings, decisions, and experiences — I get to do that when I’m ready, on my terms — but talking about it? With a near-stranger? Never going to be my first choice.

So I often just let people believe that I have two living parents, one of whom is a straight father who is going to walk me down the aisle at the dream wedding they want me to be excited about planning. I’m not proud of this, and I know I should say something, but sometimes I just don’t feel like having certain conversations. Sometimes I just don’t want to drag out my soapbox or my tiny violin. Sometimes I just want to finish my burger or get my eyebrows waxed without getting into the things I have a lot of feelings about, and so I just keep telling myself I’ll tell them everything…the next time it comes up.