I am Pelé.
Many people consider me, Pelé, the greatest footballer of all time. It is widely known that Pelé was born into poverty but still rose to international greatness. People are aware that Pelé scored six goals during the World Cup of Football at only 17 years of age. They remember, also, when the Nigerian Civil War stopped for two days so combatants on both sides could watch Pelé play. Such is the power, the magic, the wonder … of Pelé.
But what people forget is that Pelé is human. And, like all humans, sometimes the nether regions of Pelé become unruly. But Pelé does not lag behind the times. Pelé respects hygiene; he understands the importance of a smoothly waxed scrotum, perineum, and anus. From his years of being the greatest footballer on the planet, Pelé knows what it means to be sleek and streamlined, to slip through defenders with grace, to unleash your genitalia on an unsuspecting lover and have her remark, “Now this hairless crotch is what I call sexy.”
Sexy is important. Pelé was a sexy footballer, a sexy actor in the 1981 Hollywood movie Escape to Victory, and he remains sexy at 57 as a father of five, a UNESCO goodwill ambassador, and a Puma spokesman. And, in the bedroom, Pelé does the sorts of sexy things you have read about in lovemaking manuals but never believed were possible. Sexy lovemaking maneuvers are nothing to Pelé. They are like a well-placed header or a delightful, bending free kick. Still, it is difficult to be sexy when your pubis resembles the unkempt Amazonian jungle. And so that is why, every six weeks, Pelé gets “a Brazilian.”
There is a certain spa in Rio de Janeiro that Pelé frequents. The woman he trusts is Maria—Maria, with the gentle hands and the knowing smile. Pelé is aware that there are those who consider the “Brazilian” process painful, but Pelé feels no pain. The wax does not burn Pelé, and when Pelé’s pubic hair is torn from its follicles he never winces or cries out. To admit suffering is weakness. A steely stare upward into the fluorescent lights is all that you will ever get from Pelé. That the spa plays the soothing sounds of Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto over its P.A. is helpful, also.
In the spa, Pelé is led by an attendant into a secluded room. Pelé knows the drill: He takes off his trousers and, for a few minutes, regards the furry mess down there. “Goodbye,” Pelé might think. But he will not feel sad. As the football club must shed its inferior elements, so must a man’s loins be free of unsightly short-and-curlies. “At what price glory?” wonders Pelé—then, smiling, he thinks, “This.”
Maria enters. First is talcum powder, applied softly, billowing up in clouds. Then Maria brings over the heated wax and Pelé raises his knees so she can apply it with the utmost accuracy. First in long strips, then with gentle flicks, then the final O. Pelé makes no conversation. He lies in silence and thinks of his many moments of brilliance, such as when he ran the Uruguayan goalkeeper off the ball in 1970—but he fired the cheeky shot wide of goal. Would it have gone in had he been playing, back then, with a frictionless bald pelvis? Pelé smiles. Perhaps!
Antonio Carlos Jobim and João Gilberto are doing “Meditación,” and Maria sambas away while the wax hardens around Pelé’s private parts. Alone for a moment, Pelé imagines the dusty courtyard of his youth, where, now, a towheaded barefoot child is freezing his defender with step-overs. Just like Pelé as a boy. But will this boy be the next Pelé? It is unlikely. Of more pressing urgency is the fact that the boy will soon start puberty—is it not Pelé’s responsibility to lead an outreach program into the favelas, offering free “Brazilians” to promising but disadvantaged youth?
Then Maria comes back, wearing the gloves. These mean: it is time. Pelé breathes. What Pelé does at this point is similar to taking a penalty. Once the ball is on the spot, Pelé relaxes, visualizes, focuses; then the approach … the strike … and, finally, triumph! The grandstand erupts in cheers and fireworks and song! With Maria moving in, Pelé closes his eyes. Pelé opens his eyes. Maria winks. Pelé breathes. At last, Pelé is ready.
Maria tears the first strip of wax from Pelé’s body, then the next, then the next. Pelé’s mind is a white-walled room. Everything is light. Pelé is vaguely aware of Maria ripping away down there, of a vague heat flashing up through his loins, but he is elsewhere, playing a through ball to Garrincha, delighting fans of the New York Cosmos upon his arrival in America, hugging the Dalai Lama—and holding him, holding him close. The white room returns, pulsing, flashing. “Come on, Pelé,” thinks Pelé—maybe he even speaks it aloud. “You can make it. You son of a bitch, you can make it!”
And then, like that, it is over. Maria steps away. From her upper lip she is sweating. The room swims away from Pelé, and then back in. He blinks. He sits up. His loins are burning, but it is no matter. Strewn around the floor are strips of golden wax, flecked with black curls.
He looks up, and Maria is peeling off her gloves and dropping them into a bin. “You can pay at reception,” she tells Pelé, and then is gone, off to continue her work, to do her part in making Rio the sexiest town on earth.
That is when Pelé looks down, and smiles. Of course, a true “Brazilian” is never a complete wax; there is always something left behind—a souvenir, a memory. Maria’s “Brazilians” are no exception.
What has Maria left behind, this time, for Pelé? Maria has left the letter V. And what is the V for, pointing down at Pelé’s manhood, as though to say, “Here it is, look, here it is”? The V—the V that Maria has crafted from Pelé’s pubes, using only wax and love and sleight of hand—this V, my friends, this very sexy letter V, stands for Victory.