For my birthday, I was given a gift voucher for a spa experience.
Specifically, it was for a Full Body De-Stress Massage and Facial Treatment.
Did you hear that? A FULL BODY MASSAGE!
I was so excited! I’ve never had a professional FULL BODY massage before!
SOMEBODY is going to rub warm oil all over my body and do away with all the stress and tension in my muscles. And maybe if I’m lucky, this person will be a tall, black guy, rippling with muscles and with big strong hands… haha ok, I’m just kidding (I’m sure I’d have to pay a LOT more for that kind of massage).
My experience promised 2 WHOLE hours of full body pampering, a delicious lunch, dessert and tea, so I should have been looking forward to it all week!
I know I am not that great when it comes to “having time out during the day”.
I guess you could say, I don’t have a very sympathetic attitude towards rewarding myself, when I have a zillion things to do. My 2 big children are at school for 6 hours, so I have to cram in as many tasks as possible into that time!
So with driving time, baby sitting drop-off and pick-up, the spa experience itself, the whole event will take about 4 HOURS. Not to mention the other 1 HOUR needed to make lunch for my toddler, pack a day pack, get him ready, get myself ready… so REALLY this spa thing will take up the entire day – which irritates the hell out of me, because I’ll get NOTHING ELSE DONE WHILE THE KIDS ARE AT SCHOOL.
So much for trying to “DE-STRESS”. Way to go Karen.
I tried very hard – all week – to psyche myself up for a lovely break.
I’M HAVING A MASSAGE! A $200 MASSAGE! IT WILL BE BLISS! I’M GOING TO FEEL GREAT!
On the morning of the spa experience, of course, my kids were ratty at me, and my toddler was a bit sick – and even though I know how to handle grumpy and sick children, it still threw me off a bit.
I AM GOING TO HAVE A LOVELY STRESS-FREE DAY TODAY DO YOU HEAR?!?
And of course, my period arrived that morning.
I rushed around all morning – dropping the kids off at school, making my toddler have a nap, making lunch for him, driving to my Mum’s house, settling Liam in. And as I ran out Mum’s door, I was already 15 minutes late.
OH WELL. IT’S NOT LIKE I’M LATE FOR ANYTHING IMPORTANT. YOU KNOW, IT’S NOT LIKE I’M LATE FOR LUNCH WITH THE QUEEN. OR HAVING A MULTIMILLION DOLLAR CLIENT MEETING.
I’M HAVING A DE-STRESSING MASSAGE FOR GOD’S SAKE, JUST CHILL OUT KAREN.
I finally arrived at the day spa. And it was gorgeous! It was an old federation hotel with tall ceilings and wooden floors, converted into a lush, sophisticated modern lounge thing.
The atmosphere was perfect – catering just for women – warm and inviting, lovely leather lounge chairs, flowers, magazines, fresh lighting, gorgeous wall papers… it was really nice and it appealed to all my female “princess” receptors.
I sat on a large, warm lounge chair. I filled out a form and chose from the menu.
But I was still a bit frazzled from the lateness of my arrival. So I zoomed through the list of questionnaire questions.
JUST HURRY UP KAREN! I WANT TO DE-STRESS NOW! (Ironic isn’t it?)
I was led upstairs – more lovely wallpaper, carpets, paintings and tall ceilings – and I met my therapist, who was a SHE. She was not tall and dark. Nor did she have big hands. So, a small handed, short woman who was kind of pinky-white.
I suspect my disappointment showed, and I was quick to remind myself that she was probably a very nice person.
WHAT WAS I REALLY EXPECTING!?
She led me into a treatment room, which was surprisingly bare.
There was a bed, sink, cupboard, a table full of bottles and bowls and a lamp. That was it! The walls and ceiling were completely white, and the floor was covered with a grey stone-look laminate.
WTF? It was weird. It suddenly felt like a jail cell! Or some kind of surgery room. In fact, I have given birth in rooms more comfortably furnished than this.
I was totally freaking out, because everything in the room said “Surgical Procedures Happen Here”!
Did I get the right day spa? Is this EVEN A DAY SPA?
ARE THEY GOING TO KNOCK ME OUT AND STEAL MY ORGANS???
She told me that she was going to wait outside, while I was to strip down and put my clothes in the cupboard.
Then she pointed to something folded up on the bed – a disposable paper g-string. She said I could wear it if I liked, and left me alone.
And suddenly all my fears were gone. Ah, this MUST be a day spa. They don’t make people wear semi-transparent paper g-strings for surgery.
Behold the eew-ness.
No. It is not pretty. It looks like a surgical mask. Or a broken tea bag.
Phew. Drama over. The sight of it made me chuckle, and I finally calmed down.
How many of you can say that TODAY A PAIR OF PINK PAPER PANTIES GAVE ME THE CONFIDENCE TO TAKE OFF ALL MY CLOTHES FOR A COMPLETE STRANGER.
I opted to stay in my own undies. And instead, I popped the paper ones into my handbag, to take home and surprise my husband later on – “Hey honey, does my bum look big in THIS?”
So I took my clothes off.
I lay down and put my face through the special hole in the bed.
I started to think….I feel like I’m a teenager again, throwing up after a party, with my head permanently stuck to the side of a toilet bowl.
The short, small handed, pinky-white woman came back in, and the massage began.
During the massage, I really couldn’t stop my brain talking to me.
It was chatting away to me, about the colour of the floor, the shoes the therapist was wearing, the kind of castor wheels on the bed, the new camera lens I bought, what I was going to eat for lunch.
I could not CHILL OUT AND DE-STRESS!
Overall, the massage was OK. Just ok. She massaged my whole body – my legs, back, arms, abs, head, neck, shoulders – and I have no doubt that she was technically excellent. But when it ended… I was like, was that it?
Gosh, that was really over-rated.
You know, I believe my husband seriously gives better massages than this.
I didn’t feel electrified or energized. I didn’t feel alive and buzzing. I wanted to be zippy and fresh and ecstatic. But I wasn’t!
I was thinking – gee, I would have much rather gone for a cycle. Or had a workout at the gym. Or an aerobics class. Or a run. I feel REALLY good after those things! In fact, I feel AMAZING after doing those things.
I just felt oily, bloated, sloppy and lazy. Oh dear.
Next was the facial, and halfway through it… I realised I made a terrible mistake.
In my stressed haste, I had circled the “I HAVE OILY SKIN” box in the questionnaire. When in fact, this past year, I have had unusually dry skin.
And I realised this, just as the therapist scrubbed my face back and stripped every complex molecule of oil off my face.
The facial ended and my face felt so DRRRYYYYY. And it was my fault, of course.
As I put my clothes back on, I felt like I had been given a face lift. My skin was soooo dry and soooo tight, that if I were to smile, my face would crackle and fall off like one big, dry corn flake.
Down stairs, in the lounge, I tried to enjoy my lunch, but I was so distracted by the dryness of my face.
And then I looked at my watch, and realised that because I arrived late, the massage had gone over time, and it was 30 minutes AFTER the time I said I would pick up my toddler. Which means I might be late to pick up my kids from school.
So I wolfed down my lunch, cake and ice cream, I slammed down my tea – and literally ran out the door, shouting THANKS FOR THE GREAT TIME to the receptionist. It was very abrupt and very unclassy, but hey, I was REALLY late.
What was even funnier, was that, as I was sitting at a red light, in the car, my face was SO FREAKING DRY, that I reached into my glove box, pulled out some very old hand cream, and rubbed a huge dollop on my face. I may as well have used chicken fat, because that’s how thick and greasy the stuff was.
So I turned up at the school yard late, wearing no make-up, with my face shining with chicken fat, and all my friends were like – HEY HOW WAS THE MASSAGE AND FACIAL??
Over all, the day spa was just fine, it wasn’t their fault. It just wasn’t a magic solution to stress, and I was stressed before I arrived.
My advice: day spas are a nice escape from real life, if you have the money, and you have the time to actually relaaaaaax!
But if you actually want to relax by having a good time, buy yourself a bottle of $15 massage oil and find someone you like to rub it all over you.
Preferably somebody tall, dark and handsome.