At Christmas, I was given a gift voucher for a swanky day spa from a very generous friend. All women deserve a little break from reality at times to enter such a tranquil place and I was super excited recently to redeem it. I assumed there would be cucumber water in the lobby, fresh flowers, flickering candles and irritating rainforest music. You know the type of place I’m talking about. The ladies who work there are serene and perfectly made up. They definitely do not look like they have recently dealt with a code brown in a child’s undies… which incidentally I was forced to do 10 minutes before I left home.
Before I went I had a look on their website to see what I was in for with the specific package I had been gifted. I couldn’t help but notice that it had cost $300 for 2 hours. I thought “My gosh – what are they doing for me for that amount money in 2 hours?! Botox? A brow lift? Collagen implants? I’m ready baby! Ready for a new and improved me with fuller, poutier lips and eyes that reach the skies!”
As soon as I got there I could see that my predictions had been correct. It was set in a fancy-pants hotel and had all the bells and whistles I had expected. Instead of cucumber water, I was offered a totally natural and organic herbal tea, which no doubt also had colon cleansing qualities. My beauty therapist introduced herself as ‘Sharon’ (I have changed her name, albeit slightly, to protect her privacy. You are now trying to work out which name is closest to Sharon aren’t you? Good luck).
Sharon led me into a small, dimmed room complete with a massage bed and its own shower. It was full of potions and lotions and had large feathers laid randomly about for no apparent reason. The rainforest music was sounding melodically in the background. It was a serene little oasis, just for me. She instructed me to strip off and put on the disposable undies that were laid out for me.
I obediently stripped and lay down, covering myself with the towel, face down in the hole. Sharon returned and began rubbing and caressing my entire body, almost lovingly, using a range of scrubs, lotions and muds. She painstakingly applied each separate layer to each limb/body part with a full massage every time. It was amazing and I began to mentally float away, completely relaxed.
But after about 10 minutes, I began to stress. My first dilemma: Whilst receiving any type of massage I am always at odds with the age old question of “do I make small-talk with the masseur?” If I was giving the massage, I would be bored stiff without some conversation. This woman was getting to know my body intimately so I figured the least I could do was to throw her a bone, conversationally. But sometimes when you’re lying there, so relaxed, you just can’t be bothered. Which is when the guilt starts. To talk or not to talk?? I decided today to hedge my bets and asked a few light questions and then left the ball in her court. It was not returned. Fine. If she had hoped for a D & M today and felt let down, then she only had herself to blame. I could now allow myself to enjoy a guilt free rub down. Crisis averted.
Dilemma number 2: I had purposely shaved my legs before coming today. The thought of some poor woman rubbing down my spiky legs was too shameful to consider. Whatever her wages, they weren’t enough to cover a task that would be equivalent to embracing a pair of cacti. So I’d given them a quick once over in the shower that morning. This turned out to be a big mistake. Do you know what happens to freshly shaved legs when they are rubbed down with a myriad of lotions? They burn like a British backpacker on Bondi Beach. But I kept my mouth shut. I could handle this.
My third problem was becoming more serious than any other. Now it is common knowledge that any woman who is getting a massage, facial or any other pampering treatment that involves being naked on a table, will at some point or other be betrayed by her bladder. Combine this fact with a cup full of herbal tea and melodic rainforest music with trickling water sounds and you’re really fighting a losing battle. “I can hold it. I can hold it. I can hold it…OK – I can’t hold it.” But I was on a table, mid body-polish, covered in mud. I was supposed to see this out, have a shower and then have a facial. But I couldn’t wait any longer, the enjoyment had ended and I was almost in pain. “It’s OK” I told myself. “I’ll just ask to have a quick potty break, wrap myself in a towel and dash down the hall and be back in 2 minutes, no harm no foul.” I tried to ask casually about using the facilities but the pressure on my bladder had somehow travelled to my larynx and I heard myself speaking in a kind of high, strangled voice. Shazza informed me that their facility was not, in fact, equipped with a toilet and that I’d have to have a shower, get dressed and head out to the hotel lobby toilets. No toilet?!?! Are you freaking kidding me?! I was lying there getting a $300 treatment in a room with its own shower and feathers that look like they’ve been harvested illegally from a real ostrich, after being plied with hot tea and they didn’t think to put in a toilet!? They should really think about offering clients a catheter with their herbal tea upon arrival!!
But I had no alternative. Shaz finished up prematurely and sent me to the shower. Now at this point I was on the verge of bursting. I looked into the shower and saw the drain. For a split second I considered…well, you know. But no! I couldn’t possibly do that in a public shower. Of course we all do it at home from time to time when nature calls… but a stranger’s shower is a different story. I am no George Costanza…I do have some dignity! And more importantly, how would I explain to Sharon, who was waiting at reception ready to give me directions to the lobby loos, that after the shower my pee pee had magically disappeared? No, the gain was not worth the shame. I showered, scrubbing off 5 layers of body paste as hurriedly as I could and rushed out to the toilets. You remember that scene in Austin Powers where he takes a wizz after being unfrozen? That…and then some. I then hurried back to my little room, stripped off, all ready for the application of my body ‘custard’ and facial.
But the spell had been broken. On re-entering the room, now with the knowledge of the lack of toilet, my initial impressions of opulence had somewhat dimmed. I was suspicious, doubting and disillusioned. Then I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye, an Aldi tissue box was poking out from under a cupboard…being very naughty. It had almost certainly been told not to make a public appearance. It was their dirty little secret. In all this grandeur, that humble little tissue box brought me back to reality. I had to wonder whether the fancy bottles of lotions had been decanted with good old Aldi beauty products. But I’m not too proud. I enjoy a bit of Aldi. Where else can you buy fresh poultry, a $4 bottle of wine and hedge-trimmer all in the same place?
I had been punted back to reality, which was really a good thing as I was about to re-enter the regular world, much like an astronaut returning to earth after a space mission. By now, after a 2 hour rub down that was generally greatly enjoyed, I was ready to come home. Shazza finished up my facial and told me to take my time getting up, presumably in case she had lulled me into a psychosis.
It’s usually hard to come back to the harsh reality of motherhood and to a home without fresh flowers and oversized feathers. But I’ll be eternally grateful to the Aldi tissue box for making that transition a little easier this time.