Laotse’s Finesse on Toini’s Countenance

Short, Short; Story: Gothenburg aka Göteborg

Laotse’s Finesse on Toini’s Countenance

On a drizzly autumnal day in the year the DJ Avicii left the world, Toini Skoglund paces towards Nails & Hairs & Facials. She asks herself ‘where exactly is it’. She is aware of the most of the establishments in Gothenburg and all the more on the road stretching between the Iron Square and Slottskogen.

In the last one hundred years after the first-world war more than a hundred outlets of shops, products and services had appeared and disappeared.  One service related to the human hairs is constantly evolving and reinventing and re-evolving. Cutting, shaving, threading, plucking, waxing, planting, supplanting, plaiting, trimming, lasering: human beings distinguishable trait among the beasts to act on their hairs on head, eyebrows, nostrils, eyelashes, arms, underarms, limbs, groin and around genitals.

Nails & Hairs & Facials is less than a year old but Toini was informed about it by her colleague Angeliqa Mejstedt when they met at their once-in-a-month meeting to catch up with all things in life but more on juicy information about their colleagues. Toini was astonished to see Angeliqa: Angeliqa looked stunningly beautiful in her skirt that matched her dress and oozing with feminine grace. Her face was radiant without a strand of hair askew and without the usual visibly invisible facial hairs. Her eyebrows were neatly arched with pointy crescents on either side: even Diana would have been enamoured at the sight of Angeliqa. During their chitchat Angeliqa disclosed about her tryst with a heterosexual partner revealing her change of sexual orientation, which also astonished Toini, in addition to the name of the beauty salon she had visited.

Angeliqa sexual liberalism is as liberal as Liberal People Party’s. She is a self-confessed lesbian when homosexuality was confessed to utterly trustworthy people and practised in inhabitable spots.

Within four minutes of walking distance from the Iron Sqaure, Toini finds Nails & Hairs & Facials located in the basement. Laotse ushers Toini with exuberance radiating on his rotund face. He helps her to navigate her through the menu of services for almost every hairy part of the human body. Toini settles for manicure and pedicure and touch of Lao Tse’s finesse to her eyebrows and removal of invisible golden strands of hairs on her chin and cheeks which have become visible. As she settles in the chair, Laotse’s colleague works on Toini’s fingernails.

Laotse begins to examine her face and suggests to her that he could also clear the crow’s feet around her eyes. She knew one can cover them with a not-so intensive makeup but she asks, ‘How?’

Lao Tse’s smile widens further and he shows her a violet vail, and tells her, ‘Little little touch’ and shows a photo of a woman before treatment and after treatment.

Feeling the relief in her fingernails, easing further back in the chair but with half-closed eyes, she tells herself, why not, and asks Laotse, ‘How long will it last?’

‘Four weeks,’ Lao sputters with undiminished smile dancing on his face. ‘If goes, come to me you and get for free one more time,’ he thunders, ‘ha.’

Toini closes her eyes, and says, ‘Yes.’

Laotse treats his vocation as an art and every customer is an artistic subject for him. His technique starts by spraying a spray of fruity-flowery liquid. His hands usually smell of bay-leaf. The odours put his subject to an instant siesta.

As the manicurist becomes a pedicurist and begins to attend to the toenails, Toini opens her eyes like a bud. She sees her face in the mirror and her vision settles on the crow’s feet: the whole area is bulged. She opens her mouth in shock and looks at Laotse. His face is masked but he removes his mask, smiles, and says, ‘No worry. Wait.’ He picks a cotton ball daubed in a liquid and quickly brings it to her nostrils. She eases back into the chair and closes her eyes.

All the services are completed, yet Toini is in deep rest. Laotse taps on her shoulders with one hand while holding a hand-held mirror in the other. She opens her eyes: she is instantly immensely pleased with her mirrored image: no trace of crow’s feet. With her hands, she hesitantly touches the sides of her eyes to feel that bulge.

He answers, ‘Gone,’ with a wide smile.

‘Will it come back?’ she asks albeit pleased with herself with the service.

‘No,’ he says, and adds, ‘you beautiful woman now.’

Toini has not heard that word ascribed to her in years. She gets up from the comfy chair, collects her coat, pays for the service, thanks Laotse, and exits but with that doubt.

Laotse looks at his palms and brings them to his nostrils, and inhales deeply.

—Lucinda Palme