Toronto
2 min

Getting burned

At 34 years old, I have come to know several “truths”: what comes up must go down; money saved is money spent on your cat’s mega-colon; and getting burned is absolutely unavoidable.

The last two bits are fairly recent revelations. I used to think that with a little care, getting burned was something a smart person could avoid. I thought if a person sent good karma out into the world, the world would treat said person in kind. Getting burned — having something blow up in your face — is something that happens only if you light the fireworks yourself. Right?

I look back on that with smug disdain. What on earth would make me think that, I wonder? 

What a horribly shitty notion. Why would anyone subscribe to that kind of thinking? Possibly because the truth is less appealing; the truth is that people get burned all the time. As The Hills would indicate, some people get burned by friends. Others get burned by their proud employers (ahem) and some by greater forces. We can yell “Shame” at the TV set and create all the angry Facebook groups we want, but that’s not going to make anything any different, is it now?

As homosexuals, faggots and such, I have to think that, sometimes, the best way out of and over this whole “burned” thing is to find some way to turn such nastiness into opportunity. Yes it hurts, and yes it sucks. But, if you play your cards right, getting burned is a chance to make things better than they were before. 

The trick, I think, is to embrace it. 

With this in mind, two weeks ago I booked an appointment for hair-removal laser treatment. After years of avoiding any and all hair-removal services for reasons political — why support, even more, the beauty industry that is as much a maker as a solver of self-esteem problems? — and fear-based, I’ve decided to bite the bullet. 

Being hairy is something that’s pissed me off for too long. And, truly, at 34, the hassle of being hairy and the crankiness it causes me has finally outweighed my reservations and fears.

I lay down in Bellair Spa’s immaculate and vaguely religious looking temple of hair removal — it’s white on white everywhere you look — and allowed a very nice technician to take a laser to my face to show me what a test spot feels like.

The lasting odour of what smelled like cooked flesh and hair wafted into my nostrils.

(Angeline Pompei of Bellair Spa later explained that what I was smelling was not in fact my skin cooking. “Laser hair removal,” she explained, “removes unwanted hair permanently by targeting and damaging the root of the hair. The laser itself is attracted to pigment or colour. Assuming there is a good contrast between the skin and the hair, the laser damages the root and leaves behind a small stem.”)

About a week later I mentioned my experience to a friend who is also, it turns out, going under the laser this month, to undergo the process of tattoo removal. 

“We’re willingly cooking ourselves with lasers,” I noted, touching the slightly hard spot where my hair had been removed. “Do you think that could be described as some sort of trend?” 

A trend is something in which you can find meaning in either the numbers or the significance. So far, only my friend and I — that I know of — are getting burned willingly. But at the moment I’m willing to see it as a positive take on what seems like an overwhelming negativeness. 

Something like my friend David Tomlinson’s characters in Wingèd, which will have just wrapped as this hits print. Like Icarus, we are hoping to touch the sun. At the very least, we, like the Phoenix, are hoping to emerge from the flames, having benefited from the act of being singed.

Please wish us, along with the other people burned this week, the best of luck.