Saturday, January 16, 2010

Seeing the World Through Cuke-Colored Glasses: A Facial Story in Two Acts

Act One:

This word conjures for me only the most delightful memories of dusting my son's itty-bitty balls with powder and wrapping them in smothering plastic materials that will never, ever, biodegrade.  To others it means having different, more northerly parts, wrapped and massaged (although, thinking of it now,  I've heard some wonderful things about Asian ladies with special skills in Los Angeles).  I like a hand job as much as the next guy, but I'm skeptical about pampering.

I was once given, as a gift, a "day of beauty", which strikes me as not nearly enough time. A single day of beauty? Downer.  Conversely, a whole day of being touched by a stranger, far too much.  After my manicure and pedicure I was ready to slough right out of there and be neglected for a few hours, never mind the facial and massage yet to be administered. There is something about mandatory enjoyment that I find daunting and vaguely sinister.  You will delight in this, on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

But life can be tiring, and ever since I turned forty, its like the gong of my youth was hit with the big puffy mallet of destiny. Suddenly I'm going blind and my skin is turning to parchment. On the ashen scroll of my face are written the words, so long sucker, in crepey strokes.

When my mother-in-law offered me her winnings from a raffle, in the form of a facial from a local skin care consultant, it was with greedy pores that I accepted.  What has my face to lose? Other than its last molecules of moisture which are wrung from its cells daily by the cruel hands of time and singeing winter winds.  Also, though I may be a doubter about pampering, one thing I unabashedly adore is freebies.  She didn't want the coupon, declaring, "I've given up on my skin." This, from a woman dewy as a summer peach, youthful as a doe.  She drew the good genes, and thus can fold on her facial.

For those of you (men) out there who have never experienced a facial, it goes a little something like this: Dim lights, white room, fluffy robe. Dentist-style recline. Fragrant candles, good-smelling woman in lab coat. Steam steam steam. Giant eyeball in illuminated swing arm magnifier. Squeeze, poke, squeeze. Strokes ever upwards from neck to brow with firm, greasy fingers. Cold mask of cucumber-y goo. Rinse, repeat. More stroking and massaging of face with unguents, emollients and salves. Plinky music recordings, played on instruments with only two strings, plucked by the purest souls.  More tonics, more steam, more goo, some applied with Popsicle sticks, others left to cook under hot towels. Its basically a rolfing of your pores to music in a reassuringly sterile environment. It ain't half bad.

Because I am disorganized as well as papery, I nearly let the skin voucher expire, and then, in a panic, scheduled my rejuvenation.  The consultant has a good address, sandwiched between the fine grocery and the chic boutique in the nice bedroom community.  I was deeply optimistic.

I took the stairs two at a time, then slowed to read the shingles on the closed office doors.  Weigand Distributors. Slanzic Tax Prep.  Phone Systems, Inc.  Dimitreus Export --weird company for a salon.  I find the right number on an oval placard, but am instantly confused by mixed messages.  Sara Skin Care, Sara Basha attorney at law.

Would you eat salami yogurt? Nuts and gum?

My enthusiasm wavered as the complexities of para-legal skin care loomed.

I walked into a grim outer office, with stacking chairs in a tight horseshoe arrangement puntuated by an open door. Nobody home.   

   "Hellooo?" I implore.
   "You're early." A disembodied voice from the inner office, followed by a head, then shoulders, then body.
     "Well, three minutes early."
     "I thought you were coming at 2:30.  I'll get your started, Sara will be here asap."
     "How do you know I'm here for skin care and not legal advice?"
     "You look really dry."


Stay tuned for Act 2, coming in next post.


  1. I DID enjoy this at 8pm. Especially the "puffy mallet of destiny" line. But it ended too much soon. Did you get your happy ending?

  2. Er... that'd be MUCH TOO soon.

  3. Love, as always. But I, too, want to know the ending.
    I miss you.

  4. Its a two-act post. Stay tuned for the gripping conclusion. Sorry I didn't make that more clear.

  5. Love your writing!! Can't wait for part two...type faster please!

  6. I once went for a "day of beauty" at a fashionable spa.

    Hour one: It began with a masseur who, I learned, kneaded the New York Jets for a living. Alarmed, I braced myself for compound fractures but in fact he was superb. I'm liking this...

    Hour two: yum-yum, the facial, all hushed and pink and petal-y, just as you describe. But it was starting to take too long, especially the half-hour repose swathed in blankets ad unguents and drowning in steam. By the end, I would have told them anything, anything...

    Hour three: someone sweetly asked, "are we ready for our
    makeover now?" I answered, "if one more person touches me I'm going to scream," and ran for the street.

    Can hardly wait for the rest of your story. Could you stretch that to three parts, please?

  7. still waiting!!!!!