SantaMonicaSam

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The week has whizzed by in a dizzying whorl of infrared sauna sessions and facial muscle reeducation seminars. People are flocking en masse to The Center's new star offering, Paresseux. They hook you up to a bunch of electrodes and contract your muscles while you lay around reading Cosmo. Inches are being lost for mere hundreds of dollars per session.

It helps that Marian and Benji have been MIA all week. They could be embroiled in some in-depth criminal investigation or they could be in Turks & Caicos so Marian can go diving. Nobody knows, and nobody questions her absence; the mood is always lighter when she's gone, not to mention the little known fact that sales increase.

It's slow for a Friday afternoon. The weather is gorgeous, so there have been lots of cancellations. When this happens, the girls all flock to the Beauty Room to primp one another for their Friday nights out on the town.

"You want eyelash extensions?" Misha, The Center's Strand Master, asks Brie. "We just got these amazing new lashes in with little tiny gold threads. They make your eyes sparkle."

"Nah," Brie says, swiping to the next page of her novel. She's reading A Visit from the Goon Squad. "I'm shedding falsities."

Dita, who is going into hiding for the next twenty-four hours to prepare for the "most important date of her life," is sitting in the next chair over getting a hair-braiding face-lift.

"Tighter on the left," Misha tells the girl who is yanking Dita's hair into cornrows.

"Ow," Dita says, whose eyes are so wide open she looks like she just smoked meth.

"You must suffer to be beautiful," Misha tells her. "That's what my mother always told me."

Brie looks up. "My mom used to say that, too. But then I realized that's complete bullshit."

Dita laughs. "Oh yeah? When'd you realize that?"

"Just now." Brie looks at Dita. "Dude, can you imagine what this guy would say if he saw how you were preparing to have dinner with him?"

Dita breathes like she's in labor as the girl stands over her, pulling hard to retract Dita's face. "He'd think it's sweet."

"He'd think it's psycho."

"He'd be flattered."

"He'd be frightened."

Dita strains to blink. "What do you think, Mish? Should I get waxed today or come in tomorrow morning?"

Brie lifts her waistband so she can sneak a peek at her own situation. She's making the change from Brazilian to Sicilian, but the transition's got her looking like an early stage Chia pet.

"Need a tune up?" Misha asks.

"No, I'm growing it out. I'm not planning on showing it off tonight."

"Famous last words," Misha says. "Want a merkin?"

"A merkin?"

"A hairpiece."

Brie looks down. "For my pubic region?"

Misha pulls out some options. "They're all the rage," she says, tossing Brie a pink one.

Brie examines the small tuft of hair. "Is this for the cancer women?"

"No no," Dita says. "It's a whole new thang. Sort of like a grand reveal."

Brie turns off her Kindle . "Like I said, I'm shedding falsities. Did you know that pubic hair holds the pheromones that make guys all hot for you? So basically if you're bald, a man's attraction during sex won't be as strong."

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