Gary’s aesthetician was rapidly becoming the most important person in his life. They met on an utter fluke – he was walking with a platonic female friend when they saw the sign for discount pedicures and rather than just sit awkwardly and wait for her to be done, she persuaded him to sit in the vibrating chair and get the scales scrubbed off his feet. Tan had knelt down in front of him, delicately took his foot in his hand, and then proceeded to do the most viscous and violent things with files, clippers, and hot wax. She was so unbelievable at filleting off layers of skin she must have scalped someone in a past life. At one point Gary felt dangerously close to shedding his first tears since he found his ferret Winkee dismembered by a raccoon in the sixth grade. He hobbled off with Emma, pausing only to give Tan a $20 tip out of confusion.
But in the days that followed his feet felt sensations he hadn’t experienced since childhood – sand was hot! Floors have splinters! Dropped food was squishy! Once the hooves were removed from his feet he felt he owed it to Tan to return and see what other majesties she could reveal to him. So he began with nail buffing (a euphemism for male manicures), light eyebrow plucking and soothing cucumber facials. He eventually advanced to having various body parts bleached and waxed, his skin massaged and plumped and injected. Gary began to feel like a snake shedding its skin to become the tanner, smoother snake it had always wanted to be but assumed just wasn’t in the cards. And while he got more and more female attention (especially from his boss), in the end, it was the sessions with Tan that he thought about whenever he’d had too much caffeine and had to do relaxation exercises to fall asleep at night. She was the one with the power to make him feel polished and untouchable, and he loved her for it.