No one in my family needed one single thing for Christmas this past holiday. We are lucky and blessed and wanted for nothing. In the spirit of downsizing our “stuff” and constantly attempting to simplify, my husband (who is a most excellent gift-giver) gave me the perfect Christmas present – a gift card for a facial at my favorite spa. Totally consumable!
I like to get facials about twice a year. No matter how much home cleansing, steaming or exfoliating, the results are no where near the same as having a professional properly pamper your pores. I decided to go in for my facial the morning of my anniversary. This would be the ideal time to de-clog, deep-clean and walk away with squeaky younger skin – just like the day I got married. Ok well maybe just like the first time I got married… when I was much, much younger.
I scheduled my appointment online and selected the Brightening Facial. It was described as a fine line-erasing, dark spot-removing, brightening skin booster to “get my gorgeous glow going”. I could certainly use this miracle treatment for my bone dry skin which had spent way too much time baking in the sun in the 1970s. This was pre-sunscreen.
As I relaxed in the dimly lit waiting room in my comfy robe, I sipped green tea and allowed my mind to clear. After only a few minutes, my aesthetician with absolutely perfect peaches-and-cream skin and natural Angelina lips floated into the room. She had long, straight, shiny blonde hair. I gave a passing thought to my dirty hair in desperate need of a wash,cut,style,color,etc…. She seemed very sweet. As we walked to the treatment room, (I walked/she glided) she commented that my hairstyle was cute. Ok, so she was stunning but obviously the elevator didn’t go all the way up. Not only was my hair dirty – I was sporting my yoga hairdo which consisted of 2 dog-ear ponytails (not attractive or appropriate on a 49-and-a-half-year-old but convenient for yoga). This veritable veela had no pores which was an excellent advertisement for her skill. I too would leave with no pores. (The last facial I had was administered by a girl with an unfortunate case of either rosacea or acne. NotAVeryGoodSign… Although I did not leave with rosacea, I left with the same enlarged pores I arrived with – clean but enlarged.)
I love these treatment rooms. They are so tranquil. I think they must diffuse a calming agent throughout the air vents to make it so peaceful. I wonder if I could book space for a 30 minute nap sometime? Just a nap. I hopped up on the table and buried myself under piles of thick heated blankets. I practiced my deep breathing exercises from yoga class while she stirred up magic potions behind me. There was a relaxing new age type music playing softly in the background. The lights were low. I could smell lavender. Heaven.
With a gentle hand, my aesthetician began cleansing my face and praised my selection of the brightening facial, adding it would be fabulous for me – “but it might tingle a bit”. No worries. I’ve given birth. Twice. To big babies. I have a high tolerance for pain. It’s all good.
The brightening miracle cream smelled like roses. It was cold and felt nice on my skin. She spread it evenly on my face and down my neck. It did have a slight tingle which meant it was working its magic, right?
Within three minutes time, the slight tingle had turned into a full scale burn on my skin. I was quite certain the poison she was applying to my face would soon ignite. “Ummmm this is really starting to sting,” I told her with a sense of urgency as I squirmed on the bed which suddenly seemed hard. She disregarded my obvious pain, patting my shoulder condescendingly, “Only 2 minutes to go sweetie”. Two minutes and I’ll have 3rd degree burns! She fanned my face which helped a tiny bit and removed the hot steam machine that had continued to blow across my body, fueling the flames. FINALLY, as I began to practice patterned breathing exercises not used since hard labor 18 years ago, she started to remove this vile venom. “Can I have some ice chips or dunk my head in a toilet?” I gasped between breaths. “Hahahaha you are sooooo cute,” she purred. I wanted to slap her but my hands were constrained in warm massage mitts. Were my feet in stirrups?
After lying on this wooden rack with cold towels on my face for several minutes, I felt I might survive, with the exception of my nose which most certainly was bleeding. Did I do something terrible to this woman in another life? “Bless your heart your face is really red. I hope you don’t have anywhere to go.” She actually sounded concerned. OH HELL NO it’s just my anniversary, I think to myself, unable to form actual words as I am totally concentrating on calming my heartbeat. “You are going to LOVE the results!” She was just so giddy. “Is my face going to peel? I didn’t want a peel! I have a party on Friday!” I panic. “Oh no honey, you may just have a few flakes…” Ok that really did not compute in my melted brain. Fry = Peel. It just did.
Surprisingly, after coming down from stroke mode, the remainder of the facial was quite normal. I even fell asleep near the end of the session and awoke myself with one of those startled jerks. Or maybe I had passed out from physical and psychological trauma. As I readied to leave the torture chamber, she reminded me over and over again not to be shocked at how pink my face was, but added “it has calmed down a lot already.” As I walked toward the dressing room I moved slowly as if I had in fact given birth. My head was swimming – probably from the heat radiating from my body. I was pretty sure I was suffering from hyperthermia. Shouldn’t I be in the recovery room? She asked me if I wanted hot tea. Hot tea! Really? She was an idiot.
In the dressing room I assessed my face. It was swollen and red. Big time. Every single woman who walked into the changing room did a double-take. One thing was certain – this facial was aptly named. I could guide Santa’s sleigh with this bright face. And just as I had hoped, I had no pores as they were all completely swollen shut. Even the lady at the front desk who had the nerve to collect my gift card payment felt sympathy – it was obvious by her gasp which she tried to stifle but couldn’t. I drove home still feeling uneasy from the heat and certain that I would have a wreck, leaving me standing on the side of Central Expressway explaining my dirty ponytails and cherry kool-aide face to a skeptical police officer. Thankfully I didn’t have far to drive.
I walked in the kitchen door, fighting off my very strong urge to jump in the pool on the way inside. John asked, “Wanna go to lunch for our anniversary?” “John, I can’t leave the house! My face is as red as a baboon’s ass.” He tried not to laugh, but he did. “We’ll pretend you just returned from a ski trip in Aspen,” he suggested. I was very reluctant, but we did have to eat, right? And it was our anniversary. So after an icy shower to restore my body temperature and a dusting of pale mineral powder to dull the reflection from my swollen nose, we were off to lunch. I’m sure everyone in that restaurant was jealous of my healthy glow from the slopes.
Saving Jane, “Girl Next Door”
Saving Jane, “Girl Next Door”