" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

November 04, 2007

Facial Anyone?

I’ve never been big into beauty products. I find those women, you know the kind, the Heathers and the Stephanies and the Staceys who work behind cosmetic counters, positively intimidating!

If I see some woman (or a gay guy) standing in a Department store hanging on to perfume and giving out samples, I pretty much duck and cover and walk at least two aisles out of my way just to avoid them as if I’m detouring a potential landmine site.

I’m not really sure how this phobia began! I realize it sounds like it may be wrapped up in self-esteem issues but it’s not really that. Not anymore. Maybe now it’s just a deeply ingrained habit. I think what it really is, is that way down at my core, I’m actually really, really shy. It’s the same reason I don’t like to talk on my cell phone in confined public spaces. There are SOME THINGS that should just stay PRIVATE! Like flossing!

I’ve never had a manicure. Never had some tiny person of colour kneeling at my feet sloughing off the dead skin of my heels because, oh, I don’t know, to me it reeks of colonialism or something. I realize they’re being paid. Apparently, by the looks of it, I’m one of the few people on the planet, or at least on Robson Street, who feel this way. But, I just can’t do it. It’s the same reason I can’t call up a male escort and believe me it’s not because I haven’t really wanted to.

I don’t want a tattoo. I don’t want jewels or flowers painted on my nonexistent nails. Aren’t I a child of God already? Aren’t I just perfect the way I am? Give or take the extra 25 pounds. I’ve never even had anything waxed.

To think that there are women out there having what they call “Brazilians” just amazes me. What do you call those people who offer that service for a living besides suckers? I’d love to hear their title. Maybe it’s something that’s a cross between whatever they call a greeter at Wal-Mart and a dog groomer. I mean, can you imagine waxing someone’s butt hair and ripping it out. For who? For some guy? Give me a break. I don’t think so.

As my favourite comedian, Margaret Cho would say,” If someone is fucking me and they’re that uptight about what I look like they shouldn’t be fucking me in the first place.”

How do they do that anyway? Get at those hairs? Like, do you get up on a table and bend over doggy style? It’s one of those things I’ve always wondered. And the whole bikini wax thing. I’m way past wearing a bikini so there’s no need to shave the hair down there into a landing strip. I’m not exactly expecting the world. It’s not Heathrow International. It’s more like one of those landing strips in the outback, the grassy strip that you can hardly see from the sky cuz it hardly ever gets used!

But every once in a while, I do treat myself to a massage and yesterday I thought, I really want a facial too. I go to this place with the required French name. They have the requisite Enya tape playing forever. When Enya runs out, they put on the Buddhist chimes, or the rushing water or the forest sounds. I get undressed and get onto the table face down.

So I’m lying there trying to get into the zone and this woman puts her hands on my back and in my mind I let out this blood-curdling scream because her hands are so damned cold. It’s as if she’s just come in from the corner of Portage and Main in Winnipeg during a white-out. Not wanting to be difficult, instead of saying something, like a normal person would, or actually letting out the scream, I control my mind. I consider this a spiritual exercise. COLD HANDS, WARM HEART. COLD HANDS WARM HEART I repeat over and over again.

For 60 minutes she has her hands running all over my body and instead of being able to relax I can’t seem to control my monkey mind. I can’t shut off these thoughts I’m having so I’m not really relaxing because I’m feeling like I’m picking up on HER thoughts and I feel like she wants to go home. She’s tired. She has a cold. She tells me this when I arrive. Great I think. Perfect. Rub your germs all over me. I want to be sick too. Maybe you have some of that stringy snot still on your fingers to make this really special.

Next, it’s time for the facial. I was REALLY looking forward to this part the most. I meet the woman. She’s European. She doesn’t seem very warm, personality wise. But her skin is flawless.
“What’s your beauty routine?” she asks.
MMM? How do I break it to her I think. “Umm. I don’t know!”
“What do you wash your face with?” she asks.
“Soap,” I say, knowing that even THAT’S a lie. Usually I just use water, which now that I say that out loud is even a bit shocking to me. Who am I? Pig Pen? I’m definitely not the little red headed girl in Charlie Brown cartoons even though I do have red hair. Oh my. In my mind I begin to visualize the re-runs of that makeover show, Style by Jury.

“You know, I don’t mean to alarm you,” she says but your skin is prematurely aged. It’s dehydrated. It’s SO dry. It’s coarse. It doesn’t have the FLEXIBILTY of the skin someone your age. How old does she think I am? I wonder. Maybe she thinks I’m 30 I think, in a classic moment of denial. I thought I was doing okay because most people don’t think I’m as old as I am. But apparently my friends aren’t REALLY my friends after all. Apparently they haven’t even been LOOKING at me. If they had, they would have recommended plastic surgery a long time ago if I’m to believe this chic.

Anyway, I’m wrapped up like a newborn. I can barely move my friggin arms. It’s as if she was trained as an embalmer or something. Or, I’m being prepared for a traditional Hindu burial. Light the pyres!!

She covers my eyes and begins to rub this wonderfully aromatic lotion all over my face, my neck and my shoulders and at that point I actually begin to have sexual fantasies. If only she wasn’t there. She’s rubbing my face in a way that seems like it’s probably some ancient Indian ayervaetic, yogic, tantric procedure that she learned from her guru. I know for sure I’m probably not doing a very good job of concealing the smirk on my face.

Her magic fingers are slathering this stuff all over my face and neck and shoulders and then without saying a word she puts on some steamer, as if I’m a child who has a severe bout of pneumonia and she’s my granny and then I hear the door close. She doesn’t even say goodbye. I have abandonment issues lady! Where the hell are you going? How long am I going to be left here?

I can’t see because my eyes are covered. And then I notice the music. I calm down. I’m trying to get in sync with my breathing because to be honest I’m feeling a little claustrophobic. Five minutes pass. 10 minutes. I start to move my legs around. It feels like an entire afternoon has passed. Did she forget me? I lift up my back. I have to get my arms out of this straight jacket. I begin to sort of thrash around a bit. My blankets surely must look like I’ve been having a bad dream. I’m actually feeling like I might just have to get up and run screaming from the room. What are these blankets made of? Why is it so HOT in here? Am I having a hot flash? I wish they’d turn that damned music off. What the hell are those monks chanting anyway? Please just SHUT UP, I think. How does she stand listening to THAT all day?

I start to actually let out some audible sighs, groans, like maybe uttering sound of my own will help me. I can’t stand it any longer and just as I sit up, my eyes still covered, I hear the door open and I scare the hell out of her because I’m sure I look like a dead person in which rigamortis has just set in which is why I’m now stiffly upright!

“You scared me,” she says a little out of breath from the fright. “I`ve never had anyone sit up like that,” she says. I start laughing, a bit on the hysterical side.

“How much longer do you think this is going to take?” I ask. Who knew that my face was a full day’s work; a massive renovation project? Something that some realtor might consider selling for a profit afterwards! "We’re almost done," she says, and I really begin to hope beyond hope that when she takes off the mask I’ll look like Jane Seymour.

But, before I am excused, there’s more. “I don’t want to come across as pushy,” she says “but are you considering buying any product?” I realize at this point that I’d have to have the lack of conscience of a Sociopath to say No. Instead, much to my disbelief I hear myself saying, “Umm. Well, maybe some exfoliant.” I say this as if I’m trying to guess the right answer on a surprise math test in high school. Maybe some day cream?

“Well, that’s a good start,” she says. “But, if I were you, I’d really recommend that you also get the eye cream. I think to myself, Look lady, if you were me, you’d realize how ridiculous it is to be talking to me about my face as if you’re a scientist who just discovered the human genome.

“I’ll just put it all out for you when you come downstairs,” she says. I get downstairs. At this point, I’m feeling resigned to buying whatever it takes to be presentable in public even though I am over 40 and I’m female so nobody’s looking at me anyway.

I’ll take a truckload of whatever shit you want to sell me if it means I can just finally get out of here RIGHT NOW I think.

I finally escape, but not before I have spent more money than it would have cost me to fly to LA and back. Who am I? Lady Di? I’m NOT EVEN WORKING! I just did a freelance job and apparently they should have just done a direct deposit into the bank account of this salon. Now that’s a RELAXING thought.

“Touch your face,” she says. “Your skin looks amazing!” And, well, I have to admit, it is a lot softer!

Beauty never comes cheaply now does it?