Step 1: Open the box and locate the wax strips, instruction booklet, and post-wax soothing wipes with essential oils.

Step 2: Open your pantry and locate your strongest bottle of hard liquor, shot glass, and a half-empty box of stale Thin Mints.

Step 3: Take off everything below the waist and sit on the cold bathroom floor. Notice that you need to Swiffer around the toilet. Put your underwear back on and clean the entire bathroom.

Step 4: Take your underwear off again and throw back a shot. Nibble a Thin Mint.

Step 5: Rub wax strip between your hands vigorously to warm. No microwave required!

Step 6: Decide that you should have some music playing to calm your nerves. Spend twenty minutes curating the perfect playlist.

Step 7: Take another shot. Rub wax strip between your hands vigorously to warm them. No microwave required!

Step 8: Skip every song after four seconds—yeesh, what were you thinking? You can’t wax to Lord Huron. Give up and tell Spotify to play “Throwback Thursday.”

Step 9: Oh, snap, Michelle Branch is on this playlist? You forgot about her. Spend forty-five minutes scrolling Michelle Branch’s Instagram while eating the remaining Thin Mints.

Step 10: Rub wax strip between your hands vigorously to warm them. No microwave required!

Step 11: Take another shot, look in the mirror, and slap your face—hard. Flashback to the seventh-grade dance when Dana Halliday said you had “caveman” eyebrows. Imagine her showing up on your vacation to Mexico and making snide remarks about your bikini line. Show that trashy bitch you can handle this wax.

Step 12: Berate yourself for unfairly calling Dana trashy just because she pierced her belly button with a safety pin in the bathroom at eighth-grade graduation. You’re both adults now. Perhaps she grew up to be a successful businesswoman and regrets being a bully.

Step 13: Spend forty-five minutes scrolling Dana’s Instagram, which is mostly anti-vaxxer memes and pictures of her Harley Quinn boob tattoo.

Step 14: Take another shot. Rub wax strip between your hands vigorously to warm them. No microwave required!

Step 15: Press strip firmly to skin along the bikini line, smoothing it down with the grain of your hair.

Step 16: Feel despair and regret.

Step 17: Think about how you’re only doing this because of fucking patriarchy and the male gaze.

Step 18: Plod out to the refrigerator, pantless, with the wax strip still stuck to you, and drink twelve ounces of Pinot Gris directly from the bottle.

Step 19: Fantasize about moving to France. Picture yourself sunning on a rooftop overlooking the Eiffel Tower, your glossy, culturally acceptable body hair being lightly tousled by a Parisian breeze.

Step 20: Prepare to remove the wax strip. Remember to pull your skin taut, and pull the strip off in one quick motion against the grain of your hair.

Step 21: Remind yourself that you come from a line of tough, strong women. If Great-Grandma Peterson could raise fourteen kids during the Dust Bowl, you can survive a bikini wax, for fuck’s sake.

Step 22: Close your eyes. Pull off the strip while emitting a guttural howl like a Viking charging into a losing battle.

Step 23: Feel your soul briefly leave your body.

Step 24: Come back into your body and pray for death. Childbirth will be a piece of cake compared to this bullshit.

Step 25: Open your eyes and look at the wax strip. Locate the three hairs stuck to it. The rest of your hair should still be firmly embedded in your bikini line.

Step 26: Locate remaining wax strips and post-wax soothing wipes with essential oils and throw them against your bathroom wall.

Step 27: Put on your softest pair of sweatpants and call an Uber to take you to Target.

Step 28: At Target, buy one of those swimsuit bottoms with a skirt to cover your bikini line. Say hello to your mom’s friend Gina, who is buying the same one for her water aerobics class.

Step 29: Stuff your new geriatric bikini bottom in your bag. Locate the display where you purchased this wax kit for $14.99. Give the approachable-seeming model on the box the finger. Throw all the boxes to the ground. Jump up and down on them, yelling, “God damn you! God damn you to hell!” until an employee drags you out the door. Awkwardly wave goodbye to Gina.

Step 30: At home, swallow your pride and crawl back to the post-wax soothing wipes with essential oils. Drape the wipe on your red, splotchy, and bleeding bikini line. Put on Love Is Blind and gulp down the rest of the bottle of Pinot Gris.