The chair clutched my derriere firmly and then let go as a hammer worked its way up and down my spine.
“Mmmmmmm. ...” I moaned.
Soft music wafted around the room and I sipped my little plastic glass of white wine contentedly as a tiny, beautiful woman scrubbed brown sugar into my calves.
All around me other women were being similarly scrubbed and hammered and clutched. The air was fragrant with the smell of nail polisher remover and the hum of gossip almost overpowered the notes of classical music.
We were all of a certain age.
You know the age I’m talking about. The age when a woman starts to look in her mirror with horror. She is, oh no, starting to show her years.
Dowagers formerly addressed this issue by dying their hair blue and getting on with their Bingo games.
Now, not so. We must appear young from our artfully sun-streaked hair down to our glossy toes. And today, after the ever-fashionable sheriff’s spokesman Tom Reedy commented on my raggedy nail polish, I figured I’d start at the bottom and work up. And that’s what I was doing after work at the nail spa.
These elegant facilities with their exotic employees have evolved from the long-ago beauty shop your mother got her hair “done” in years ago.
Once a week, Helen or Betty or Bobbie would wind your mom’s hair around curlers so tight the “do” would last a week if your mother slept in a turban consisting of Kleenex and a rag. And she did.
When the cut ’n’ curl was over, the beautician would paint your mother’s nails “Poodle Pink,” the only shade apparently available in those days.
It’s so different now. “Nail techs” do much more than file your nails. They offer a manicure for your real fingernails or the application of fake talons so long and red they make you look like a vampire after a meal who needs to lick her fingers.
They offer pedicures in chairs that electronically pound your backbone and in the case of the spa I was visiting, clutch your butt. They scrub your feet and legs to a high sheen with sea salt or brown sugar and they drop rose petals in the water. The rose petals cost extra but they make you feel so pampered.
They offer hair removal from eyebrows, lips, chins and some places that I won’t mention and would certainly never let anyone near with a bowl of hot wax.
They are on every street corner, inside every mall, and they all are staffed by the same few tiny, beautiful women who have been in this country an average of six days and have not totally mastered our language. This can cause communications problems.
So that, after the leg massage and before the toenail polish, mine thought I was saying, “I’m really into experiencing pain, and I’d like you to take those little cuticle nippers and shred the skin around my toenails, drawing maximum blood and inflicting as much agony as possible while murmuring “So sorry,” when what I actually said was, “Let’s use the Poodle Pink polish.”
When she dunked my hands in a bowl of warm soapy water, I tried “No color on my fingernails; let’s just do French,” which apparently translated to “More blood!”
After nails comes the waxing room. The tiny, beautiful woman leads you to a small private area and tells you to make yourself comfortable while she dons high-heeled boots, a leather bustier and a riding crop.
Waxing is a process that involves covering a selected area with molten paraffin, covering it with a cloth, allowing it to cool to firmness, then ripping it off your skin, taking along any hapless hair and several layers of epidermis.
Some women do this to their legs. Others to their underarms.
There are the truly insane who opt for the “bikini wax,” or the even more terrifying “Brazilian wax.” The bikini wax is a form of torture first used to extract confessions in facilities like Gitmo, but all the prisoners begged for the water board instead.
I just wanted some basic facial dehairing. Unhairing? Uh … after the swelling went down I noticed that my eyebrows didn’t match. One is fairly normal but the other swoops up, thins out and vanishes into a laugh line. I can’t decide which version makes me look younger, but I don’t have time to worry about it.
I’m too busy trying to convince some tightlipped men in dark suits that I lied when I confessed to making the explosives just to get that hot wax off me.
DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .