My birthday was months ago, yet I held out one of my gifts until after the big move. The "afternoon of beauty" my boyfriend had gotten me would have to wait, as I knew moving would be rough.
My roommate of three years and I were breaking up camp. It was time. Our house was up for sale, so it seemed like the landmark occasion we'd been watching for. Plus, we'd seen the best and worst of each other. We'd been though post-college boyfriends and break-ups, witnessed jobs come and go, put up with series of pets and survived fights where we nearly killed each other. And we're still friends.
One week after the big move, I'd successfully dumped a lot of baggage and removed some blemishes -- an orange corduroy couch, bad wicker furniture and enough paper material to be considered a fire hazard. Now it was time to have the other blemishes removed.
I walked into Phyllis at the Madison, where apparently Saturday is the day to address beauty issues. The place was swarming with high-maintenance ladies, and most of them were employees. I was whisked away by Rachel, who was to do my facial. I was pretty nervous, as I've never devoted an entire afternoon to beauty. It's mainly consisted of the time it takes nails and a goopy mask to dry.
Soon I was in a room big enough for a bed and sink, having my face massaged. I was masked and soothed to the tune of calming New Age-y music. After the soothing facial, my overgrown eyebrows were unmercifully ripped from my face.
Rachel and I chatted as much as possible with hot towels periodically placed on your face. She told me that a girl I'd gone to high school with was working there. I dizzily emerged from the small room and chose from the unnatural colors my toenails were to become. I scanned the room for a familiar face.
After picking out baby blue polish, I heard a voice greeting me and turned to find Angel. Even though we'd never been friends, it was nice to see her. It made the idea of a high school reunion less scary a prospect.
Next on the agenda was a pedicure with Michelle. After placing my feet in hot soapy water, she said, "Soak in this and I'll be back in 10 minutes."
I've never had a pedicure, but I was pretty sure it was an unusually long time to be soaking. When she returned, I discovered she'd grabbed a bite to eat in the back. The place was so busy, she'd been forced to skip her lunch break. Although I was rather happy to quietly pore over a fashion magazine, it was useless. Michelle filled me in on all kinds of info, like how she wanted to throw out her boyfriend who didn't love her. I gave the best advice possible, thinking how it's typically the client who divulges personal information.
Michelle rescued my kickers from hibernation, separated my toes in wads of cotton and put disposable flip-flops on my feet. I said goodbye and ambled over my next station.
My last stop was with a pregnant manicurist who didn't force a Sally Jesse conversation from me. When giving a hand and arm massage, she said, "Your arms are so small, I can get my entire hand around them."
To which I happily replied, "I'd rather my butt were so small."
Superficial conversation is OK at a salon. In fact, it's encouraged. That's the whole point in being there -- to take care of the surface. This, in turn, takes care of the inside a little.
My fellow alumnus was working beside us, so we chatted a little. I had to admit to myself it was strange irony.
I emerged from the salon a new girl. On the drive home, I gingerly held the steering wheel, trying not to mess up my manicure. Wouldn't it be nice to be pampered on a regular basis? I could change my last name to Soprano.
I knew, like in certain fairy tales, the carriage eventually becomes a pumpkin again. True to form, I put a dent in my nail polish while retrieving keys from my purse. Still, I realized what a sweetheart my boyfriend was for this present.
Within a couple of days, nature and genetics regained hold of my skin. The truest truth ever told is that beauty is fleeting. Luckily, love lasts longer than a facial.
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