Once again I allowed my unrealistic expectations to get the best of me. On a cruise with three other women, I thought going to the on-ship spa and salon would be like a scene from a 1940s movie. You know, the one where the rich socialite is being pampered in a spa while talking with her girlfriends on the nearby tables. They say dahling a lot. This was going to be great.
“Let’s get manicures!” someone said.
“Can I get a massage? I want a massage. And a margarita,” someone else said. “A massage at the same time as a margarita.”
“I always thought that if I could get a facial from a woman in a white lab coat with sitar music playing in the background, I would gladly die happy shortly afterward,” someone else said.
“We’re getting it all,” I said. “We’re getting facials, we’re getting manicures, we’re getting pedicures, we’re getting hot stones on our backs and cucumbers on our eyelids,” I said. I was picturing every black-and-white film I saw on the Nine O’Clock Movie when I was a kid.
And then I went to the appointment desk to arrange that little slice of nirvana. That’s where I learned the first rule of going to a spa when you’re on vacation.
Rule #1: Don’t Go to a Spa on Vacation Because They Can’t Handle You and Your Girlfriends and Apparently Did Not See the Same Movies as You Did Growing Up
“You can’t all have manicures, pedicures, facials and massages, because we don’t have the staff for that,” said the man sitting behind the appointment desk. That’s what his mouth said. His eyes? They said, “What do we have here?”
Peering over his glasses, he sighed and said “But let me see what I can do.” I swear none of us were flashing bills. It had to be our blotchy, sallow skin, chipped nails, raw cuticles, at least one of us had a limp and two of us had moles we should have had looked at. We ended up nixing his idea, that we come in at different times from 7:30 a.m. to 9:45 p.m. in a relay of sorts, feathering in and out and swapping white robes. That wasn’t quite the girls’ bonding experience we were looking for. We grabbed whatever appointments were left in mid-day and hoped for the best.
Rule #2: Don’t Go to a Spa on Vacation Because They Will Topple the Teetering Tower of Self-Esteem You’ve Carefully Built Up in Fifty Years
Ochgh, my daughter’s esthetician said. Then she recited a laundry list of what was wrong with her face, which consisted of different ways of saying that her pores were filled with pore material. They needed to be cleaned out but good, before she became another hour older. She had already lost so much time, it was questionable whether her nonexistent Cover Girl modeling career could be saved. She used a paper hole puncher on my daughter’s face and then slathered it with a gray paste.You couldn’t smell a cucumber anywhere in range.
Meanwhile in the next room, I was being lectured about the unsightly ridges on my nails and the gnarliness of my hands, which I happen to know for a fact is hereditary. My sister-in-law’s manicurist feigned a heart attack from the shock of seeing how dry her hand-skin was.
“My God, we’re a mess,” I said. But there was hope. Hope with a price tag.
Rule #3: Don’t Go to a Spa on Vacation Because They Just Want to Sell You Product and Said Product Will Have a Price Tag With Too Many Zeroes in It
Knowing they can’t get your return business, the spa staff more than makes up for it by selling you things you don’t want but somehow feel obligated to buy because you’ve been convinced that you are just plain butt ugly.
Among the four of us, we ended up with pink mini-shopping bags filled with, among other things, the following products:
- A cuticle cream that came in a black and gold cube container designed by an Italian artist. Inside was a half-teaspoon of Crisco. It cost as much as a Fabergé egg.
- Face cream that put us just over the top of our on-board credit account. The ship staff was alerted and we got another bottle of champagne.
- Spray Moroccan oil that will surely save my dry arm-skin from bursting into flames. I think they use it to keep the camels’ elbows from getting irritated. I don’t mind. It makes me smell sultry.
- An appointment for a pedicure the next morning at 8:10 that no one wanted.
I ended up taking the pedicure appointment, because they wouldn’t let me cancel it without a full charge (and possibly revocation of the champagne), but I went with a bad attitude and a chip on my shoulder.
“Ochgh,” the pedicurist said. “I’ve got something for your shoulder. And it comes in a lovely container and will only cost as much as the Hope Diamond.”