Saturday, February 17, 2007

Dispatches from Planet Femina

So the thing about working at Swanky 4-Star Spa and Hotel, it's the most high-class job I've ever had. I've had to morph into Corporate Drone. Well, Hippy Corporate Drone; in this town, you can get away with flowing skirts and peasant blouses, as long as they conform to the black-and-white theme of work attire. But I've had to undye my pink hair, and remove my eyebrow ring (for which I still mourn). It's mostly days of black slacks and white oxford shirts for me now; I'll wear a tie to work, occaisonally, and I'll have my Big Gay Socks (thigh-high rainbow stripes given to me by a girl I briefly dated) beneath my slacks. But it's a good thing I have a great boss and coworkers, because I totally feel like an interstellar explorer trying to fit in with the local life forms. Boldly going where no crunchy hippie dyke has ever gone before.

It's a boutique spa offering massage, body treatments (like herbal wraps), some Aryuvedic-lite services, and facials. So most of our clientele are upper-middle class ladies of a certain age who drop 400 bucks on eye cream and moisturizer without blinking. And then there's their entrepreneur/real-estate developer/investment bigwig husbands, who all anxiously request female therapists only please. I had one guy on the phone, when I asked him if he'd prefer male or female therapists, laugh nervously, "No way I want some dude massaging me! Heh heh!" At which point I mentally cursed him so he'd pull his ACL the next time he's playing raquetball at the club.

But part of the training is to actually recieve the treatments provided so we can sell them better. 9 bucks an hour and free Thai massage? Heck yeah. I'll put up with bland bourgeouisie for that. So one Tuesday the assistant director looked at me and said, "It's a slow day, why don't you take an hour and get a facial?"

My reaction to that was twofold: first, I thought, "Holy moses. Best Day at Work Ever!" And then I thought, "Uh...what's a facial?" And then I actually got nervous. It's not that I don't have my femme side, I dig nail polish and skirts and such; but it's more of an indie thrift-store retro girliness. Low maintenance. Facials and manicures and makeup are my sister's area of expertise. She's the pretty one, I'm the smart one. She's the blond one, the popular one, the straight as an arrow, church-going, wholesome one. I'm the bookish, hairly legged bra-less wonder. Even when I'm decked out in skirts and mary janes I look queer, cause that's the point.

So I felt more than a little awkward in my fuzzy bathrobe as I followed the Marie the aesthetician (Quebecoise, doesn't speak any French but still has a funny accent) into the facial room, a modern day alchemist's labratory, with strange bottles containing mysterious liquids and elaborate, slightly ominous machinery, all in the pursuit of a face fit for Vogue magazine.

The facial itself was very relaxing (well, except for the bit where she's squeezing all my pores. I can't believe people get paid to do something like that), and not quite as intimidating as I thought. I think my awkwardness stemmed mostly from the knowledge that I was totally out of my element; this is an aspect of normative feminity that I've never experienced, and never cared to. I felt fourteen again, honestly, because I've never been comfortable in that kind of gender expression, that high-maintenance bourgeoise feminity. I humored everyone, and it was nice to just lay there for an hour and get paid for it. But it was still wierd. It made me think of junior high, when all my friends started to wear lipstick and I would daydream about cutting all my hair off into a crewcut.

It did make my skin look great, but it's too much effort for me. I think I'll stick to my homemade yogurt concotions and green tea leaves.


At 5:03 PM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said...

I will definitely have to send my Girl to this post. She would identify so completely with it!

I, on the other hand, love facials (primarily because "It [does] make my skin look great"). My Girl, having never had one (and having no desire to have one) gets that I like them and she even went to a spa with me the other day to buy me a facial for Valentine's Day. Isn't that just the sweetest thing? Especially considering how out of place she feels in such places. I'm so lucky. :)

At 6:10 PM, Blogger Andygrrl said...

Aw. See, now that's love. Winter does the same, putting up with my blathering on about natal charts and chi meridians and wood elements!

But I can totally see how you can get hooked on those facial things. I was zoned out the rest of the day!

At 4:16 AM, Blogger Winter said...

Lol! Well "putting up with" is a little strong. I'm not disinterested, just slightly bemused at the complexity of it all sometimes!

I probably would have a facial if it was free, but I'd draw the line at some things -- run for hills if anyone came towards me with hot wax or lots of makeup for example.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger reasonably prudent poet said...

ok, i feel a little weird writing this, but, i had a... back facial(??) one time...? yeah. i still don't know for sure if there's really any such thing as a "back facial" but the idea was that they do the same stuff to your back as they would to your face...? i think...? so, what happened was, i worked with this woman at whole foods several years ago who was going to some shady beauty/cosmotology program and she needed to practice certain things on people, so she talked me into volunteering for a back facial. i don't know what the fuck was wrong with me that i agreed b/c i didn't even like her that much, but for whatever reason, i *did* agree. i drove out to the address she gave me at this decrepit strip-mall to this grody old shop that looked as shady as it possibly could be and there was my coworker, waiting for me. it was so weird. i felt like a space alien, with my close-cropped hair, tattoos, and the giant, neon DYKE sign that was obviously flashing over my head. meanwhile, the actual treatment was pretty cool. it was basically a back-rub with different oils and, at one point, a coating of hot wax. however, a little too intimate coming from a coworker i hardly liked. i left feeling awkward, to say the least. it still sort of makes me shivver to think about it. a back facial?? what the fuck?

At 2:53 AM, Blogger DeniseUMLaw said...

RPP -- ROFL!!! I had a back facial once also. But, it was in a modern day spa with my long-time esthetician whom I trusted completely.

Andygrrl, I get the natal charts and chi meridians -- but I don't know about wood elements. ??

Winter, I also don't do makeup (anymore; in all fairness, I used to). But, I *refuse* to shave my legs and waxing is the only way to go! ;)


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