I usually don’t even bother. Just a quick glance at the flyers while passing by. But for some reason, a nondescript black and white flyer—your ordinary sheet of paper—stood out to me. It would prove itself anything but plain.
The flyer was for a local salon by Palmer Square—Salon Pure. The advertisement cut straight and to the point: “Get cleaned up for ‘bicker’! 20% off Bikini and Brazilian waxes.” So of course I chuckled, simultaneously amused and disturbed by this surprisingly explicit advertisement. I hadn’t expected this; I had expected the usual—a lecture, a club meeting, a performance. I also wondered why bicker was in quotes. Really, I wanted to know how the salon knew about bicker so intimately and why they had decided to turn a profit on it. Bicker seemed to be something so specific and internal to our culture. It was shocking to see it so blatantly exposed. It was a subculture, or secret, made public, and not just on campus, but in town, outside Princeton, outside the ‘bubble’.
I was a little anxious about going to meet Salon Pure’s owner, Susan Daly. According to the flyer, she was the lady who, if one wished, could clean a sistah up—how would she take to being interviewed? I felt a bit ridiculous. But I figured if the salon was willing to advertise like this, so odd and forthright, its employees would have no problem with my questions.
They turned out to be very talkative. When I sauntered up into that salon, the receptionist talked to me as if it was just as normal for some random college freshman to wander about the salon’s advertising strategy as it was as for said freshman to request a wax or hair cut—something actually related to their services. In fact, she was excited that I wanted to know more and was quite keen to talk. She probably figured that my interview would be itself a terrific advertisement, that it would get many a lady to want their pubes removed by Ms. Daly, the owner.
What follows is a transcription of my conversation with this Daly lady, waxer and manicurist for an astonishing 22-plus years had to say about getting cleaned up for bicker. I have interspersed my own commentary where useful.
Me: How do you know about bicker?
Susan: During all university events, there is always a surge of clientele in Salon Pure. Waxing services are part of their head to toe grooming habits.
[I like how bicker is of the caliber of a ‘university event’. I wonder what other university events cause everyone to want to abandon the bush. Perhaps Lawnparties?]
Me: Why is this offer specifically for bicker season? What about it could present a need for waxing?
Susan: I have learned, in over 22 years of being a manicurist, pedicurist and waxer, that women like to feel great under their clothing as well as feel good about their outward appearance.
[So perhaps she really doesn’t know why it’s just for bicker. To be fair, I still don’t know why it’s just for bicker, but that’s probably because I am an oblivious frosh.]
Me: Is the discount only for students bickering or is it open to all university students?
Susan: The other day, I had a client who is part of a sign in club. I still offered her the discount…..I just felt it was right.
[Oh my. This is an oddly, ridiculously selective discount. This means that all freshmen will have to pay the full $60 for hair removal! Unfair! For frosh on a budget, you better start considering whether you really want to join that sign-in club next year because Salon Pure only wants to offset the cost if you want to bicker. Better reconsider.]
Me: How have customers, especially Princeton students, liked the waxing services?
Susan: I have gotten great feedback from my clients. They tell me that I provide a less painful service, make them feel very comfortable and give them good maintenance tips.
[At least your hooha will be in great, pain-subduing hands. Like I said, reconsider that sign-in club right now.]
Me: Has there been an increase in business due to the offer?
Susan: There is always an increase in business at Salon Pure leading up to events in Princeton in general. I usually see anywhere from 10-20 waxing clients when the eating clubs host events.
[Gotta get your wax on for formals and the like! Mmhmm!]
Me: How does the waxing break down by clubs students are bickering for, if known?
Susan: I am not certain of the breakdown per club. However, I do see more clients that are involved in bicker than sign in clubs.
[Well, girl, you only advertise to those bickering. And you almost didn’t let a sign-in girl get her wax on!]
Me: Have you had any interesting conversations during a waxing session about a student’s experiences during bicker season?
Susan: Of course, I have had conversations during waxing sessions about experiences during bicker. I do not mean to imply anything by saying that my clients enjoy my confidentiality.
[Got it—what happens during waxing stays during waxing. I appreciate her respect. Susan is a woman we can trust not only with our hair follicles but also our intimate social experiences.]
Me: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Susan: “One of the greatest pleasures of my work is meeting young girls from the university. Behind the closed door of Salon Pure’s wax room, I have the opportunity to learn a lot from these girls. I hear about everything from their campus life to thesis work to travels to third world countries where they have offered themselves to care for others.”
As I was about to leave, she said, “feel free to come to the salon and enjoy any of my waxing or manicuring services.” And to that she added, “I’d love to treat me!” Which is nice, but only if for free!
So although Salon Pure is a bit peculiar and their policy toward who gets a discount and who doesn’t during bicker season is even more strange, it seems as though they are just trying to engage with the university, to learn from us and to provide us with the self-care that we often neglect. Or, maybe, just to make money.
Susan herself seems to be an experienced, compassionate waxer, and while one may feel that a quick wax to get ready for bicker is just a part of a healthy beauty regime (and perhaps increasing your chances of getting in), keep in mind that your visits, at least according to Susan, demonstrate that “that Princeton University is successful in turning out some of the most fascinating, intelligent women. My children’s world stands to benefit from it!”