Spa Bah HumbugPosted: August 18, 2011
Every six to eight weeks, I grit my teeth, put on a brave face and go to a hair salon. There, hot wax is drizzled on my eyebrows and upper lip, then roughly yanked away so that the tiny fine hair below comes out by the root. Then a stranger will hold my head underwater and come at me with sharp implements, while asking me probing questions about my personal life. For this experience, I pay about $20 bucks more than the cost of a two-year subscription to my favorite writing magazine.
Last trip out was particularly ghastly. It was close to 37 degrees Celsius with the humidity (that’s about 104 degrees Fahrenheit state-side). I was tired, I was smelling the sweet greasy goodness of food court egg rolls while missing lunch, and I needed to get back to the office as soon as possible. So when the waxed hair ripper person told me to relax and enjoy the process, I pulled the face. If you’ve ever raised a teenaged girl, you know the face. Just so happens, I’ve never lost the talent for giving that look.
“What, you don’t like to be pampered?” she said.
I believe I growled audibly.
Truth is, I do. But I have never understood why women view necessary acts of hygienic maintenance as pampering.
Perhaps it’s because I have a thing about being touched by strangers. I tremble in the doctor’s waiting room every check-up. Not because I’m afraid of her finding a deadly disease, but because of what she has to do to go looking for one. I don’t even want to discuss the trauma I endured when my long-time dental hygienist went on maternity leave—thank God this was her last child. I like my optometrist. He keeps his distance.
Inevitably when middle-aged women discuss plans for a “girl’s night out” (a term that, as a lesbian, has always had a whole different range of connotations for me, but I’ve learned to keep that out of the conversation), the talk will at some point turn to spa-going. And I will turn to leave the room. I don’t do spas. I don’t get spas. I have a perfectly good bathroom at home, two of them in fact, and enough body/face/hair goodies to explain why I’m practically on a first name basis with the staff at Sephora. Even if they do speak loudly and read the labels to me because they think I’m too old to figure out a moisturizer on my own. Or that I’ve lived so long, I’ve simply forgotten how to read
As this is, more or less, an opinion piece, I want to make something very clear. I do not like spas. Therefore, I do not go to spas. That doesn’t mean I think you shouldn’t go. I don’t think all spas should be put out of business. I don’t think they’re sexist, harmful to the environment, fattening or cruel to small animals. I just think removing my dead skin cells is a job better left, quite literally, in my own capable hands.
But it did give me cause to mull over what I consider pampering. Spending $100 guilt-free at Powells is pampering for me. Do you know how many used books you can buy for a C-note? Last time I did it, the USPS let me keep the mail bag. Playing hooky from work and seeing a weekday matinee, preferably an obscure literary bio-pic or something like The Hours (I’ve seen it seven times), the kind of movie I can’t talk anyone into seeing with me. And sometimes, it’s a Friday night bowl of the sugary, kiddie cereals I probably shouldn’t eat, consumed while getting my West Wing on DVD fix. Ahhhh. That’s the life.