I’m not sure what it is about me, but I have this uncanny power to have complete strangers tell me the weirdest, most personal details of their lives within minutes of meeting them. I know this sounds like an exaggeration, but I promise you it’s true. There’s the time I was getting a pedicure and the woman pretty much told me that she was human trafficked here from Vietnam. Or the time that I was in TJ Maxx with a friend and a woman blocked our path and demanded our opinion on some crappy things she was buying. This small traffic stop resulted in a 15 minute conversation about how she is living with her ex husband, whom she hates, but loves his money. I don’t know what it is about me, but I just bring it out in people. It’s actually not a bad thing; it’s great for me because it gives me awesome stories. However, there is a time and place for a story, and when I’m laying on a table getting a facial, it’s not the time to talk about your bowel habits.
About seven years ago, I was talking to a friend about pampering myself for my birthday. I had never done it before, and I was thinking it would be really fun to do something I normally wouldn’t do. My friend recommended this woman who she went to frequently for facials. She raved about her, told me how relaxing the whole experience was. There would be candles, aromatherapy, soft music, and someone picking all the blackheads out of my face. This sounded divine; I was in. I called and she did, in fact, have my birthday open for an appointment. I couldn’t wait!
My birthday is in January, and in New England, it’s one of the worst months of the year. The temperature is frigid, days are long, gray and covered in dirty snow. Everyone is pissed off at how much money they spent over the holidays. I am no exception to this, which is why I try to make my birthday a little special. I was super excited the day of my appointment. I walked in and felt the serenity wash over me. I’m not a hippie by any stretch of the imagination, but I could understand why people spend money on this stuff.
My winter jacket was removed, a cup of herbal tea placed into my hand, and I was whisked off to my own private room. Or, I should say, private cave. I was instructed to put on a terry cloth wrap and lay down on the heated (!!) table. Let’s just say I maaaaay have disrobed before the door even closed. All nestled in, listening to the weirdly hypnotic sounds of New Age music, the esthetician came back into the room and got to work. First came the inspection of the skin, which was included picking and squeezing of various areas. I’m not going to lie, that’s not too pleasant. Then came the humidifier, making it kind of difficult to breathe. Ok, this was not going as swimmingly as I was expecting, but I carried on. After several minutes of sitting in a mix of humid air and sweat, she began applying the most glorious mud mask in the world. I could feel the rejuvenation beginning! While this was happening, we had some small chit-chat. She told me where she’s from, how she got started in this business, talked about her kids. Then, abruptly, she stopped. It was kind of weird, but then again, I was half-naked with mud on my face listening to Anya, so who am I to judge? I heard the door open and close, then nothing. I guess she left the room.
Now, I’m relaxing. This was what I had envisioned! In fact, in my heightened state of relaxation, I started to snooze. It wasn’t until I had been laying there for about twenty minutes with no interaction that I started to wonder if something might be wrong. The mud on my face had transformed from a silky, creamy moisturizer to a dry, cement-like mask. I lifted the cover off my eye and took a peek around; the room was empty. Hmmm. I couldn’t hear anyone outside of the room either. At this point, I’m getting a little worried. Where the fuck did this lady go? How long do I lay like this? Am I supposed to wash this off?? WHAT ARE THE RULES?!?!!
Thankfully, my panicky internal screams must have been heard because the esthetician came back into the room. She rushed over to me, apologizing profusely for taking so long. Obviously, I wasn’t going to let her know how freaked out I was, so I simply replied, “Oh! I didn’t even notice you were gone!”
“Oh, I’m so glad you’re ok with that. I’m really embarrassed I left so suddenly, but it was an emergency.”
Ok. Now I’m intrigued.
“Everything ok?” I asked.
“Well, not really. I have really bad IBS and it just hit me really hard” she calmly stated as she proceeded to TOUCH MY FACE WITH HER BARE HANDS.
“IBS?” I asked.
“Oh, yeah, Irritable Bowl Syndrome. I get really, really bad diarrhea.”
Any sense of relaxation was now gone. I reverted back to my stiff, knotty state of hyper-awareness. Not only did she NOT stop talking about it, but she proceeded to tell me about how bad it is and what her triggers are. Apparently, she ate something she shouldn’t have the night before and, “Boy! Was she paying for it!” I think what really put me over the edge was her stating, “I had to flush three times. I was so afraid you would hear it!”
I did not say another word for the rest of the session. I was afraid if I opened my mouth I would barf. Every time I felt the mud mask applied to my face post-revelation, I wanted to dry heave. I endured another forty-five minutes of torture before it finally stopped. I felt dirty. I wanted to go home, take a shower to forget what had just happened. I hurriedly put my clothes back on and practically threw my money at the woman as I headed for the door.
“Would you like to schedule another appointment?” she asked.
“Oh, sure, yeah, umm, let me just get my book……”
I just walked out the door, never looking back.