Thursday, May 20, 2010
How can that be, right? Spa and relaxation go hand-in-hand.
Well, that has usually been the case for me but, of course, like many things lately, the "powers that be" have conspired to make my life more interesting and blog-worthy by providing me with an 'experience' to share. My pain is your enjoyment. You're most welcome.
It begins with some good news: I won a $50 gift certificate to my 'favorite' local spa. Yay! In going through my gift-cards I also realized I had a $100 gift certificate to the same place from Christmas. So, SCORE!, thought I, I'll book myself a mega spa evening and really go all out.
Rather than the usual European Facial and Eyebrow wax than I indulge in from time-to-time, I wanted to do something different. I looked through the menu of services and decided upon a hot stone massage (which I've never had before) and a "Fire & Ice" facial, becuase it was new and sounded interesting.
Last night was my spa evening and for some reason it started off with me having the mommy guilts. I had to stop work, grab Daisy from her nanny and then drop her right off to her Nan and Grandad's house. For some reason, the quick pass-off didn't sit right with me. Late afternoon/evening is "our time" and I found it hard to drive away just to do something so frivolous. I never would have thunk that I would have had these problems but, there you go, that's motherhood for you - full of surprises. The point is that my frame-of-mind was not "Oh goodie, mummy's going to get some 'me' time!" it was more like "Man, I'm cutting into "our" time just to spend two hours being selfish."
Things started off well. The massage was good. I wouldn't necessarily say that I would do a hot stone massage again but the novelty was good enough to appreciate it as a one-time experience. My masseuse was quite funny too; not your normal calm and soft-spoken masseuse. He was gay (which is neither here nor there but just a descriptor) but that fastidious, nervous-energy, kind of gay man - think Alan in Two and a Half Men (who is not gay in the show but should be) or Mitchell in Modern Family. So he did everything with quick and short movements, like when you bat a fly away from you. He constantly straightened out the sheets on my massage table and dropped the stones in a metal bowl as if they were hot potatoes. (Which I guess, of course, they were.) It was enjoyable but different. I will say it was nice to get a massage 'just for fun', for a change.
Then came the "Fire & Ice" facial...
I started to get an inkling that this wasn't going to be enjoyable when the esthetician began the treatment by asking whether I had anywhere I needed to be after the facial. I said no, just home to my husband and daughter. "Good," she said, with a little too much relief in her voice "because sometimes the warm Hungarian mud sometimes leaves people a bit pink. But don't worry, it goes away very quickly and leaves your skin feeling WONDERFUL!"She said the last word with extra emphasis, which is when I knew I was being set-up for a not-so-pleasant experience. It's the old, this is going to hurt but you'll be so glad you did it, warning.
And so she pasted the Hungarian Mud Mask on my face. "It's going to heat up and then back off after a minute or so. You may feel some tingling," she said. At first there was nothing and then I started to feel prickling (tingling wouldn't cover it.) Then the prickling turned to burning and the burning quickly intensified to proportions where it was no longer bearable. I felt as though I had just dipped my face into a vat of boiling water. "Warm" didn't cover it, "Hot" was an understatement. "They weren't kidding about the "fire" part!" I exclaimed after a minute or so and asked her to take it off early, which she did.
As I emerged from my "happy place" (the place I go when I'm trying to block out pain or discomfort - which, incidentally, is on a floaty, bobbing up and down on the sea in Jamaica) I realized that, even with the mask off, my skin was burning, tight, and felt puffy. "You're pink!" the esthetician said with glee. She said it like she would have if she had just pulled off the mask and seen that I transformed into Catherine Zeta Jones - like it was a really good thing. I wasn't buying it. Too much happy always raises red flags for me.
When it got to the "ice" part and she massaged my cheeks with ice cubes, I didn't feel significant relief. I didn't have a benefit of a mirror but I would have bet my last dollar that, at that moment, I looked as though I'd fallen asleep on a tanning bed. So I spent the rest of the facial, which could have been quite relaxing, stressing about what monstrosity would greet me in the mirror when I got out.
20 minutes later I found myself staring at my puffy, red skin in dismay. My face was burning and I had skunk eyes where she hadn't properly removed my make-up and had run a ring around them with the 'hot' mud. THANK GOD I didn't have dinner plans or something. I looked and felt hideous. On top of this, I was developing a headache.
"Oh, did you see yourself in the mirror?" the esthetician asked when I emerged from the room. "You're glowing!" Her forced excitement and positive spin left me with the feeling that they had had some complaints before and had instructed her to paint the pain and the redness as a good thing. Glowing was about right. Like a nuclear reactor!
After getting dressed and returning to the dressing room three times because I couldn't get my t-shirt on the right way (I was in a rush to get out of there and get some cold water on my face), it was time to pay. At the very least, I thought, I don't have to reach into my pocket for anything more than a tip. Which was when I pulled the $100 gift certificate out of my purse and noticed the little red writing on the back. "02/09/10 - $14 remaining" and some initials. Would you believe it, I had completely forgotten that I'd spent all-but $14 of the $100 gift certificate back in February! Which meant that I now had only $64 toward my $150 spa treatments. The rest, plus tip, I had to come up with myself.
I left $100 poorer, red in the face, and pissed that I had skipped a night with my daughter and husband (when family time is so precious these days as it is).
On the way home I blasted my face with cold air from the car's air conditioning and the redness did seem to improve, thankfully. But it took me using a mild cleanser of my own and my favorite moisturizer, to really feel as though I was back to normal.
The silver lining to this debacle? I woke up this morning and my back and hip feel fantastic. No idea what my fastidious, gay masseuse did but it worked!