For my sixth anniversary with the boy, I was surprised with a little getaway to Whistler. Whistler, for those of you not in the loop, is a Canadian town/resort of sorts. It would be fun! And romantic! And, oh, by the way, we were going up with the BBFF (the boy’s best friend forever) and his wife, and the boys would be golfing one day! Or, you know, maybe two! And I would be going to the spa with the BBFF’s wife (heretofore referred to as BBFFW)! Hahahahaha! Me! At the spa! That’s hilarious!
Oh, no, wait, he wasn’t kidding. Well, hell. To state the obvious, I’m not really one for being “pampered,” especially by strangers. I’ve been on the receiving end of a manicure and pedicure once or twice, and felt fairly dipstickish as it was. So you could imagine how excited I was by the prospect of having to appear calm, cool and collected as a stranger gave me a complete rub down. But you have to try something at least once before you’re allowed to say it sucks ass, so I sucked it up and agreed to be a girl for a day. I was sent to the spa’s website and instructed to read through their selections and plan my day, which I dutifully did. < sarcasm >Oh, what fun! < / sarcasm >
I didn’t exactly understand everything I read, but I got the general idea. I could handle it. Perhaps this spa thing wouldn’t be as bad as I feared. I might just enjoy myself! Ah, so young, so naïve…this dream was pretty much smashed when I called the actual spa to schedule and it all went to hell. I can’t explain it, I have no idea why, but scheduling my trip to the spa felt like the equivalent of buying porn with my mother present. I got nervous. I stuttered. I fucked it up. It wasn’t pretty. To illustrate, the phone call went a little something like this:
Spa Employee: Whistler Spa. How can I help you?
Me: (whispered) Uh. Um. Hi. My name is, uh, eiddy and, um, I need to schedule some…things.
SE: Okay. And what things would you like to schedule?
Me: Um. I need to schedule a massage.
SE: And what time would you like this scheduled for?
Me: Oh. Uh. Oh, no, it’s not for today. I won’t be there today. I’m not in Whistler yet.
SE: All right. And when would you like to schedule this for?
Me: Um. Wednesday. I think. Hang on…Yeah. Wednesday. I think it might be the eighth?
SE: Yes, that would be the eighth. And you would like…?
Me: Oh. Um, the aromatherapy massage please. Around 2 o’clock…if that’s, y’know, possible.
SE: All right, Miss eiddy. I have you scheduled for a 2 o’clock—
Me: Oh. Um. That’s not all I need. I also need to schedule (slight pause as I frantically rifle through my notes) uh, a facial. Yes. The facial.
SE: And which facial would you like?
Me: The…regular one?
SE: The Avello facial?
Me: Suuuuuuure. That sounds about right.
SE: Certainly. We can go ahead and—
Me: And the spa manicure. I’m supposed to do that too.
(a moment of silence)
SE: And will that be all Miss eiddy?
Me: Sorry. I’ve never done this before.
SE: Of course. And was that all?
Me: Um. I. Um. Yes. Thank you.
SE: Why don’t I go ahead and see about scheduling and give you a call back? Can I get your number please?
Me: My number?
SE: So I can call you back with your schedule.
Me: Oh, yeah. Okay. It’s 425—Oh, wait, no, that’s my work number. Hang on…(another tense moment as I blank and forget my home number.) Oh, it’s 555-555-55 (another moment as I mentally dial a pretend phone)…55. Uh…yeah. That’s it.
SE: Thank you. I’ll call shortly.
After dazzling this poor man with my wit and obvious intelligence, I sat by the phone and anxiously awaited the return call, pouncing on the phone before it finished the first ring. After getting my confirmation and hanging up the phone, I rejoiced! I had done it! And no one had been harmed in the process! Well, except for my dignity, and really, there wasn’t much of that left anyway! And I quickly found some of my erstwhile dignity by lying on my back, chanting, “You’re a dork. You’re a dork. You’re a dork.” over and over. (Very relaxing, that. You should try it. I highly recommend it.)
BBFFW is a completely different creature than I. All she could talk about was how fun this was going to be! Before we went up! When we got there! While we were under the influence of alcohol on the dance floor! She couldn’t wait! Dude, I was too busy trying to figure out if I was really just supposed to wear my underwear under my robe, to even contemplate the “fun” aspect of it all. (And, for the record, underwear is optional.) Ever tried sitting around a lobby while wearing nothing but a borrowed robe and your underwear, while trying desperately to look relaxed and casual? Not as easy as it sounds. So I sat and sipped water and spit out green tea candy and made polite conversation and lounged about in a spectacularly convincing manner. And, finally, just as I was beginning to relax, out walked Jimmy. Ah, yes, give the spa virgin a man. Thanks. That’s fine. I’m an adult. No problem here.
I do believe, even though I am probably fooling myself, that I managed to look completely at ease as he led me down the hall to a small room. (Note: BBFFW laughed as I took that long walk. Five minutes later her masseuse Brian came out to fetch her. Ahahahahaha! I would’ve paid good money to see the expression on her face. She had gone for the underwear-free approach. Payback’s a bitch, eh?) And then the very nice (and probably highly amused) Jimmy began asking me questions: was this my first time? What kind of a massage was I looking for? Was I allergic to anything? Would I like to be de-stressed or invigorated? Bewildered by this unexpected barrage of questions and confused by the mood lighting, I barely managed to blurt out “de-stressed!” Oh dear lord, de-stressed. Points to Jimmy for trying to contain his smirk until he made it out to the hall. Nice try there, Jimbo.
So I disrobed and got cozy under the sheets and attempted to enjoy myself. Throughout the massage there were all these awkward moments, at least on my part. I’m sure Jimmy was fine. But they really should hand out a little etiquette booklet for first timers. I mean, was I supposed to make small talk? Could I ask him to turn off the annoyingly “serene” music? Could I tell him mid-massage that I really wasn’t feeling the peppermint oil, and ask him to try something else? Was I supposed to help him move my limbs, or did he prefer lifting that dead weight? And to add to the pain of all those unanswered questions, there was the battle to keep my thoughts on good behavior. My mind? It wanders. And that’s never good.
I have this quirk that is more like a fear, actually, that kicks in whenever my mind wanders. I have been, at times, shaken out of a reverie now and again by the intense fear that the person next to me can read my mind. Not that I really believe in mind reading, mind you, I think it’s more of a “what if” fear. What if this masseuse knew that I was trying not to laugh because I kept flashing back to a story I’d read in Playgirl eons ago about this woman and her lusty masseuse? *ahem* What if he knew that I was plotting out an elaborate bar fight in my mind to try to divert myself from the Playgirl story? What if he thought that the tackle/right hook/toss over the bar combo was ridiculous? Could he tell what I was thinking by the movement of my eyes under the lids? (I know, I know. I’m a freak. I can’t help it. This is why my mind is not left alone for extended periods of time.) As a last resort, I began composing this article in my head, but then that went weird places, and then I tried to concentrate on the music, but that was boring, so I went back to the bar fight and, well, let’s just say that I probably left that massage more stressed than when I arrived.
And that wasn’t all. There was this really horrible moment in the massage when I realized that I was going to have to turn over soon. It was awful, it built up inside me and there it was – completely unavoidable. I prefer laying on my stomach, thanks. There’s too much pressure when you’re on your back. You have to concentrate on looking serene so as not to insult him. You can’t start laughing when he grabs your toes and starts wiggling them, or grimace in pain when he does something fucked up to the base of your head. And there’s the question of “Can I open my eyes? Do I even want to open my eyes? What if I open my eyes and he’s looking at me? Is it rude to open my eyes?” I did, for the record, open my eyes once, but he was working on my neck and bent over and just way too close and I promptly closed them. Personal space! Personal space! It just felt…wrong. Like I had violated a major masseuse/victim code. And I’m probably going to hell for it.
After what seemed like an interminably long time (though BBFFW swears I was shorted by ten minutes, and was upset that they took advantage of the spa virgin, I really didn’t care. 50 minutes was plenty), he was kind enough to press down on my full bladder without warning and let me know that he would now give me a few minutes to wake up, and he’d just be right outside waiting for me. Uh, okay. I was already awake, but perhaps I was supposed to be so relaxed that I couldn’t move right away? Not wanting to insult the nice man, I lay on my back and stared at the ceiling for a minute. I tried for longer, but I just couldn’t stay there any more, I felt ridiculous. Not as ridiculous as when I couldn’t get the door open a minute later, but still, pretty silly. After helping me open the door, and only laughing a little, Jimmy led me to the waiting room, where I sat and stewed (Was I supposed to tip him? I thought the tip was included, but I wasn’t positive. Was he supposed to stand here and make polite conversation, or was I supposed to tip him? Shit! I didn’t bring any money, since I was wearing nothing but a robe! And underwear, people, I had my underwear! Dammit, I needed help! Where was BBFFW? Fuck) until I was handed over to Mary.
Mary, bless her crotchety, middle-aged soul, was to give me my facial. Once again, I was led to a tiny, darkened room with that damn relaxation music playing in the background. I really, really hate that shit. I just do. It sets my teeth on edge. So do questions people are supposed to know the answers to—like Mary asking me what kind of facial I wanted. I’m sorry, but do you people read the reservation? How the hell am I supposed to know? Do I look like I’m paying attention? Shit.
Mary, obviously an expert at translating blank stares, decided on a deep-cleaning facial. She also decided that I had dry, sensitive skin, which I thought was interesting because I could swear I have fairly oily skin. Eh, potato, potahto. She was the expert, right? Right then. She also warned me that she could see blackheads, so she would be taking care of those later on, and I would most assuredly not enjoy it. Honest to god, I will never understand anyone that says a trip to the spa is relaxing. I will just shake my head and assume they are on crack. Mary then made polite conversation as she rubbed some kind of cleanser over my face. She asked me, only semi-snarkily, after looking through a rather alarming magnifying glass, what I used on my skin at home, and had no response when my answer was “Whatever soap we have handy.” Was that the wrong answer? From her silence, methinks yes. But she didn’t try to sell me anything, probably assuming that I’m pretty much the epitome of a lost cause, and I appreciate that. Live and let live, right Mary?
She continued to slather things on my face, randomly filling me in on the details when she felt like it and working in silence when she didn’t. (Another injustice against me, it seems. Apparently they’re supposed to tell you everything they use and what it does. Once again: eh.) It was kind of odd, lying there with my eyes forcibly closed (some gel-ly thing was resting on them) while the strange woman broke long silences with “We get lots of snow where I come from,” (I remain completely unsure of how she got on the topic of snow) and “Thank god the sun came out. If it was gray one day longer I would’ve committed suicide.” Ah, yes, well, then I’m glad the sun came out! Of course, I preferred the somewhat frightening ramblings to her sitting in stone silence behind me for 15 minutes while the mask set. I have no idea what she was doing back there, it didn’t even sound like she moved an inch, and I didn’t like it. Leave the room. Sing. Tap dance. Do something. Just stop freaking me out.
I did like the hot towel, though, and that came next. I’m going to have to try that at home. Finally, something relaxing! And just when she had me on the brink of enjoying myself, she reeled me back in. Apparently it’s bad for business if your customer is comfortable for long periods of time. It’s best to shake them up, keep ’em on their toes. And, for Mary, that involved taking out her lancelot, or whatever the hell she called that tool of terror, and attacking my face. Let me just say, having your blackheads removed by a sadistic woman wielding a needle is one motherfucking painful experience. I would avoid it, if you can at all do so. Really.
I don’t really recall what happened next. There was something that stung, her cheerful warning that the facial might make my face break out (thanks for the warning halfway through the facial, yo) and an extreme moment of unpleasantness when the lights were turned back on. Bidding Mary adieu, I stumbled down the hall, wondering how long I had been in this strange land of terry cloth robes and women that complained about the mud being cold. Strangely enough, it seems timepieces do not exist inside the hallowed walls of the spa, so I sat down and awaited one perky young lady named Lindsey.
I had actually met Lindsey earlier in the day, and let me tell you, she is one cheery mofo. She even seemed to enjoy my confused mental state, cheerfully finding out what I was scheduled for next. I thought I had booked a spa manicure/pedicure, but it seems in my porn-buying-like state of confusion, I had only booked a manicure. At that point, I really didn’t mind, I’ve never really enjoyed a pedicure before, so why put myself through that again? BBFFW was disappointed, she had envisioned us sitting side by side in the large pedicure lounge overlooking the mountains, but it was not to be. The little trooper seemed to recover from her disappointment pretty quickly when her nail artist brought out the foot soak. It did my heart good to see her carry on so bravely.
We left BBFFW in her extreme state of relaxation and went to what appeared to be the broom closet. Well, it was slightly nicer than a broom closet, and there was light and a lack of relaxation music, so it was fine by me. The manicure was a fairly straightforward affair—a little lotion, some rubbing, some painful plucking and pushing of cuticles, etc. I spent most of my time studying Lindsey’s nails. I was fascinated by the fact that they were in worse condition than mine. Chipped, uneven, not manicured, clearly gnawed on and thin. For some reason I just sort of imagined someone who takes care of people’s hands for a living would want to put her best hand forward. But she forgave me for chewing on my nails, and I’ll extend her the same courtesy. She was supernice and if she can carry on a conversation with me, she can carry one with anyone. Recommended!
So, to sum up: Spa=bad. If you’re me. If you’re not me, and many of you aren’t, and you don’t mind being tortured and pawed and oiled up by complete strangers, then I highly recommend it! BBFFW loved it! And I would trust her a whole lot more than me. I tend to look at these things as a huge waste of money. I’m quirky that way. You might not be. And if you’re not, or are told that you have to go and happen to be in Whistler, B.C., the Whistler Spa is a great place to unwind (or wind, if you’re me). It’s a nice facility, has patient staff, seems to be reasonably priced (or so I was told) and, well, all the bottled water and Tazo tea you can drink! Plus, you get to keep your nail polish! It just doesn’t get better than that, eh.