A couple of weeks ago I was treated to a facial at a very upscale local spa, courtesy of a birthday gift certificate. Until this occasion, I had had maybe three facials in my life, only one of which had included the rather painful service that I discovered was called, ahem, “cleansing the pores.”
To my surprise, this turned out to be the same operation that I had performed religiously on myself as a teenager while I dreamed of blackhead-free, pimple-free, and in fact poreless facial skin. In my world, however, “cleansing the pores” was known as “reaming out the blackheads.”
This, of course, was in the days before we learned that reaming out blackheads was a beauty no-no and our skin would be forever damaged because of it.
Apparently, though, it’s no longer damaging. Or perhaps it’s only not damaging when you pay to have it done….
Anyway, on this fair day, I felt quite chic as I left home for my spa appointment. I had on my almost-best jacket and pants (in honour of the beauty palace I was going to, you understand; I knew it wouldn’t do at all to be schlepping over there wearing my usual uniform of baggy t-shirt, old pants, and Birkenstocks).
My hair, freshly washed and sprayed to within an inch of its life, had for once allowed itself to be guided into something resembling a style; and I felt very much the lady of the manor as I drove to the spa to be “facialized.”
Visions of nearly invisible pores dancing once more in front of my eyes, I parked my car and sashayed across the parking lot, through the heavy wooden outer door, through the inner glass door – which I nearly walked into because I didn’t have on my glasses (ahh, vanity, thy name is…) – and across a sea of slippery tiles over to a reception desk nearly the size of my dining table.
I hastened to introduce myself, remembering to keep my mouth from falling open in amazement at the expanse of rosewood and tiles and important paintings that surrounded me, as well as the utter silence that pervaded this enormous beauty emporium.
It was surreal, like being in a library or a church. In this cathedral silence, my voice etched into my ears like fingernails on a blackboard. I tittered to myself, clenching my teeth in order to keep it silent.
As I walked gingerly back across those tiles toward the upholstered chairs in the waiting area, I smiled at the woman already seated there. She didn’t actually respond, but her mouth stretched just a little. I suspected Botox.
My esthetician silently appeared at my side and escorted me up the stairs to the changing room, where I was instructed to take off my clothes, put on the various garments in my locker, and come out when I was ready. (My first thought was to remind her that I was just having a facial….only the face, but in the nick of time I remembered the Lady of the Manor.)
Accordingly, I stripped to my undies and tried to figure out what I was supposed to do with what looked like a shapeless terry-towel skirt with an elasticized waist, clearly intended to be worn under the lush robe they supplied.
After I put on the skirt and donned the robe, I kept having the sneaking feeling that something wasn’t quite right. Eventually (lightning thought processes not being my forte) awareness lit up my brain: this wasn’t actually a skirt at all! In fact, I was likely supposed to wear it up higher, covering my entire torso, and the robe was simply for effect as I moved my bulk from one room to another.
Immensely relieved to have overcome this small hurdle of ignorance, I adjusted myself, picked up everything I thought I was supposed to bring with me, locked my locker, and went looking for my private facial room.
I had picked up a small black plastic parcel which I thought might be a shower cap to keep my hair out of my face while having the facial. Apparently not. The girl allowed herself a small smile and immediately relieved me of the little package as soon as she saw it. It turned out to be disposable panties for bikini wax customers. (I did have to titter a bit to myself at this point; so much for Susannah, Lady of the Manor.)
The facial itself was soothing and relaxing, and went much as facials are wont to do, I suppose, including the aforementioned pore cleansing – except that this facial included a massage of the hands, arms, upper chest, shoulders, neck, upper neck – and even, horror of horrors, my head! She began massaging my head! With oil!
As you can imagine, my hairstyle went west very quickly, but I had no idea just how bad the damage was until I finally got up off the table and discovered, to my horror, that my 4-5 inch long hair was standing straight up and out at right angles to my head, ALL OVER MY HEAD! IN OILY SPIKES!
(Note to self: hairspray + oil = glue)
So, after a number of furtive attempts in the changing room to at least restrain it a little, the Lady of the Manor got herself dressed, took a deep breath, and headed out into the harsh public eye.
Phyllis Diller had nothing on me. Nothing. I was Phyllis Diller….in spades. With pores.
My skin might have been glowing in the sunlight, but I’m here to tell you that the effect was completely overshadowed by the glare of the hair!