First Spa Visit by Sharon O’Donnell

The gift card for a spa visit sat on top of the bookshelf in our study for almost two years. My husband had given it to me as a birthday present, and I really appreciated it but had no idea which of the spa’s services to choose to spend it on. A facial? a hot stone massage? a Swedish massage? a pedicure? microdermabrasion? a manicure? All of them sounded great, and I couldn’t make up my mind which one I needed the most. So, I remained indecisive for a year and a half, keeping so busy with the schedules and appointments of my three sons that I didn’t have time to make appointments for myself. Finally, when there was a bit of a lull in schedules and when more new wrinkles made me start thinking more seriously about microdermabrasion, I set up an appointment to have it done.

I had heard of spas and how the whole experience was so wonderful and relaxing — the very definition of the word ‘pampering’. Naturally, I was looking forward to it. The night before my visit, I got the envelope down from the bookshelf just to make sure the gift card was still there. And it was. It was actually in a brochure that had little slits for the card to slide into, and then the brochure was inside the envelope, which was torn at the top. I put the whole thing in my purse for safekeeping.

The next morning I arrived at the spa where soft music, low lights, and stone walls awaited me, creating an atmosphere I’d never had the luxury of being in before. I first went into the dressing area, where I slipped into a comfy robe – though I wasn’t sure why I needed to be in a robe when she was just going to be working on my face. However, whenever you get an opportunity to wear a robe, I feel you should take it. I put all of my belongings into a locker and walked out to another room where the lighting was even more dim. I lay down on the — the — I don’t know what you call it — I guess it was sort of like a single bed, and the service tech talked to me in a soothing voice and began the microdermabrasion procedure. There were all kinds of creams, gels, and foams that went on my face, making it feel great. Then she began the machine process where little beads are pelted at my face to remove dead skin cells and replenish the skin. It felt good during it all, but afterwards, my face started burning a bit. She put another thick cream on my face, explaining in a soothing voice while she did so that the skin would be red for a few days and that I’d want to stay out of the sun. I started to get a little uptight, wondering how red my skin was. Then she put another gel on my face that felt great and alleviated the burning sensation. As this was going on, I realized suddenly that I had to pee. Badly. I don’t know why this feeling came over me so quickly, but there was no denying it. I thought about telling my service tech, but the thought of running back to the dressing area with gels all over my red face was not something I wanted to do, especially since I didn’t want to screw up anything in the process. I wanted everything to stay on my face just as long as it was supposed to how it was supposed to.

Before I knew what was happening, the service tech said, “Now let this skin conditioner stay on your face while you relax.” She put a warm cloth over my face, which felt fantastic. “I’ll be back in 10 minutes,” she added, as she went out the door, quietly closing it behind her.

Damn. I’d have to hold it for 10 more minutes. I felt I could do it for 5 more but wasn’t sure about the 10. And I wanted to leave the cloth on my face just as she said or I was afraid I’d mess the whole thing up. I tried to relax and concentrate on the soft, new age music. It worked for a minute to focus on that, but then the nature sounds of a babbling brook came through the sound system. I had to go more than ever! It was pure torture to wait out the remaining minutes, and I wished I could see a clock. Beneath the sheets, I crossed my legs — tightly. Finally the babbling brook noises stopped, which helped somewhat.

Then I heard the door open, and the service tech was back in the room. She took off the cloth from my face and immediately began to massage some other stuff onto my face and neck. Surely, she was almost done, wasn’t she??? I hated to interrupt her when she was almost done. I crossed my legs tighter, tried doing Kegel exercises without the release part.
A few minutes later, she told me she was ready to turn the lights back on, which she did. She patted my face dry one more time and then said the procedure was complete but that I could take my time getting up since I’d been so relaxed. Of course, I popped right up off of there, raring and ready to go — probably surprising the hell out of her. “Oh that’s okay, I’ve got to errands to run,” I told her, trying to smile. She handed me some instructions for caring for my face and then asked if I had any questions. “Nope, I’m fine,” I blurted out, “That was wonderful, thanks.” I dashed out of the room and down the hallway into the dressing room and right into a bathroom stall. Ahhh. Nothing ever felt so good.

When I went to the desk to pay, I got the envelope from my purse, only to discover — the gift card was not there! I explained to the lady behind the desk that I’d kept up the card for over a year and a half and had just seen it last night before I put it in my purse. I searched through my purse some more, while she checked for the purchase in her computer system. She saw my husband’s purchase, but she couldn’t make the computer accept the code. Just as I was thinking I’d have to pay outright for the whole thing — a woman standing beside me who had been going into the dressing room when I was coming out, said that she’d found a card on the floor of the dressing room and had put it on the vanity area. How that thing had gotten out of my purse and out of the envelope was beyond me — But I had been so focused on peeing that I guess almost anything could have happened without my noticing it. Sure enough, they found my gift card and everything turned out fine.

But I kind of think this is God’s way of telling me that I’m not a spa kind of person. I guess I’ll stick to the bathtub at home and my occasional soak in Mr. Bubble bubble bath.