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A spa day from hell: Going for pampering and leaving with second degree burns

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Considering one previous spa experience, it’s a wonder I dared to dream of another. Photo by Amanda
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After a challenging 2011, punctuated by a challenging holiday season, visions of taking a spa trip danced in my head. Considering my previous spa experience, it’s a wonder I dared to dream.

You would have thought I was a kid in route to Disneyland then. In reality, I was 45 and taking my first trip to a spa.

If I was excited when boarding the plane, I was giddy getting off. At the airport, I ran into an acquaintance who quickly noted, “You’re all aglow!” Days later, I would look on fire!

 A few hours later, the spa’s driver, also a retired high school football coach, was driving me to the dentist office as though I was about to give birth.   

Looking back, the first night was a big clue. A gully-washer had commenced. I climbed into bed thinking that a storm was a great sound to go to sleep with. But around 1a.m., I awoke to a different sound entirely.

Imagine pea gravel pouring down an aluminum pipe that runs the length of an abandoned water well. In fact, it was pea gravel, running off of the roof into an ancient downspout. I wasn’t able to sleep the remainder of the night but thankfully, by morning, I was moving to another room. 

At lunch on Spa Trip Day Two, I sat next to a sweetheart of a woman who, sadly, had just lost her husband of 40 years. As she was telling me her story, suddenly, I bit down on something hard. Still trying to be attentive to the poor widow, my tongue began to explore.

Damned if it didn’t feel like one of those pea gravels, I thought. When I realized what it really was, I had another dilemma.

How was I going to remove the tooth filling from my mouth without looking like I was removing a tooth filling from my mouth? The widow, seemingly on the verge of tears, was now re-living her husband’s funeral. 

Somehow, I managed to extract the filling without notice, but what the widow interpreted as empathy, wasn’t entirely so. In truth, it was empathy, controlled panic, and concentrated tongue coordination combined. 

A few hours later, the spa’s driver, also a retired high school football coach, was driving me to the dentist office as though I was about to give birth. He didn’t slow down on the turns either. I slid from one side of the back seat to the other, while coach offered running commentary on everything from “kids these days” to drivers driving too slow.

At this point, I was howling, realizing just how comical my spa experience was becoming.  We reached the dentist office in record time. The dentist fixed my filling, and then prescribed “liquid foods only” for the next two days.

 She grabbed something and started swabbing my face like Martha Stewart on steroids icing a cake. 

On Spa Trip Day Three, I had a facial. The cosmetician, who’s name was pronounced like Veeshloss, spoke with a heavy Russian accent. After the facial, she lightly ran her fingers across my facial hairs with some fascination.

“You need a vaxing!” she declared. I told her that it was no use. That God gave me hair growth that wouldn’t go away. She proceeded to persuade with her experience and  “vonderful” products. 

Unfortunately, I went for the waxing. Twenty minutes later, when she removed, or rather, ripped off the wax, my face felt like it was on fire. Veeshloss, gasping, immediately went into damage control mode. She grabbed something and started swabbing my face like Martha Stewart on steroids icing a cake.

By sensation alone, I knew that I was in trouble.  I just didn’t know how deep. Turns out, borderline second degree burns deep! Of course, none of this deterred my hair growth in the least but this was no surprise to me. Fried or un-fried, I was just grateful to have a face! 

There was one thing pleasurable about my spa experience. Meeting Oatsie. Oatsie, from Rhode Island, was a lifelong, yellow-dog Democrat and full of spunk. I liked her from the get go. 

The morning after receiving the waxing, Oatsie immediately came over and looked directly into my face, which had been freshly smeared with a goo-like substance that smelled like two-day-old fish. As I explained what had happened, Oatsie took a small step back.

I figured it was the odor, but Oatsie, being Oatsie, was intrigued not repulsed. Fascinated. With a twinkle in her eye, she summed things up pretty well.

“Shit just happens to you,” she declared. We cracked up. Oatsie was OK.

The other gals were coolly polite. By this time, Spa Trip Day Four, I was clearly the clown jester in this court, certainly, a curiosity. But given this bunch, minus the sweet widow and Oatsie, I considered both a compliment.

It would be weeks before my face cleared up, but on Day 5, when my husband picked me up at Hobby Airport, the burn was peaking into some new concoction of small pox and poison ivy. My husband did a nice job of disguising his alarm.

I was just thankful to be home.

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