The Good Life

Beautiful young woman applying organic cosmetics to her skin

I recently went to a fancy spa. The kind where all the ladies checking you in have Botox- tight lips and foreheads. The kind that gives you a bathrobe, slippers and water injected with cucumbers. I hate the taste of cucumber water. But I sip it to feel fancy.

In the midst of trying to feel fancy and at-ease in the posh spa, I tried to do everything right, but failed miserably.

The dressing room got me off to a bad start. It’s always an awkward situation in there anyways. Some women are private. Others are not. This particular day the women appeared to be very private. So I tried to honor the unspoken get-undressed-without- anyone-seeing-any-of-your-body-parts code. But this is nearly impossible to do when you are trying to take your clothes off, while covered by an enormously bulky bathrobe, in the tiny confines of a little bench. And if you are spastic like me... forget about it.

Somehow as all the demure Botox ladies were stealthily undressing, I got tangled up in the belt of my bathrobe and falling was imminent. I decided that falling forward and smashing into a locker was better than falling backwards and traumatizing the Botox ladies with the sight of my well-protected lady parts. So, half way hunched over, with pants around my ankles and a robe belt somehow wrapped between my legs, I fell forward. And put my hands up to catch myself on the lockers. Which meant I dropped the belt that I was tangled in. Which meant the belt fell to the ground and the robe was now wide open and I bent over to get the belt and untangle it from my pant legs... know, disaster.

And the room was silent.

These are the moments when the nudist in me just wishes I lived in Santa Fe. Everybody is naked up there. You’re like the weird one if you're at a spa and you aren’t naked. Why can’t I just live there? Where lots of women don’t shave and most don’t have Botox done. And if they do, it’s Botox they have grown, cultured and fermented in their own horticulture house of healthy hippie happiness.

I digress.

After all my hard work at being completely private I ended up showing these ladies more than they bargained on. And I gave up. I just took the robe off all together and got properly undressed. You can’t be modest and get a massage- or birth a freaking baby for that matter- so just deal with it.

I remember the first time I saw a room full of undressed people. It was in a bathhouse in Budapest, Hungary.

Look: If you are a demure, Southern, Botox-loving, private, modesty advocate... don’t go to a bathhouse in Budapest, Hungary. Or in Santa Fe, New Mexico. That’s all I got to say about that.

Except- I will also say- that in Hungary, if a giant woman with ghoulish strength begins to wildly beat on your back- you should know- she is not trying to kill you. In the midst of you being buck naked with the oldest men and women you have ever seen in your life and dying inside from anxiety and privacy issues while wondering why no one shaves- sweet Ghoulog is actually just trying to relax you, not kill you.

This is relaxation! Don’t you know it? Don’t you recognize its hallmarks?

This my friends is the good life: Ghoulog slapping your back while buck-naked old people surround you in a hot, steamy, ancient bath house.

I digress.

I move to the relaxation room of the spa. Everyone is very quiet and not looking at me so I feel as though this is my opportunity to redeem my spa-reputation. I sit down next to a cup of hot tea and a first-timer-massage questionnaire. The lady said she would leave it for me, along with a hot cup of tea. So I sat down and filled it out. I sipped my cinnamon tea. I hate the taste of cinnamon tea. But I sip it to be fancy. I set the dainty teacup back down. Halfway on the coaster. Half-way on the table. It spills all over my robe and paperwork and I say _ _ _ _ !!!! Followed be a squeals of pain.

And it is only then that I look down to realize that the paperwork I am filling out is for another lady. Who has apparently already left the room to tattle-tell on me. She comes back in with a spa lady. Who quietly picks up the name plate?!? next to the spilled cup of tea that says "Susan" and erases it.  Then quietly asks me what my name is.


There are cutesy name plates.

Seriously? How did I miss that? The cute little black thingy’s with my name scribbled on it in white chalk? Do I have no eye for Pinteresty-adorable things? Have I no class? No Spa-dom in my blood???

Oh yeah. I missed the little black name thingy’s because I saw the free snack bar with almonds and berries- the kind that I always want to get at Whole Foods but never do because they are too expensive- so I made a B-line to them. I decided I better eat as many as possible while I’m in the demure-Botox-lady-place and they are free. While I loaded up a little plate- and an extra napkin-full for later, I dropped the almond tongs and again gained the attention of those enjoying the relaxation room.

But really. Whose idea was it to use tongs for almonds? This is so not practical. I can't operate tongs when using them on big leafy pieces of lettuce much less slippery little nuts. I think after I dropped the tongs, which then reverberated on the silver platter like a never-ending gong-and disturbed the peace of Spa-dom- well, that’s when I got nervous and self-conscious and sat down to sip Susan’s tea and fill out her paperwork for her.

Sorry Susan. Or- you're welcome.

I  have way less ailments than you and you know it.

When the little person finally came in to bring me back to my massage room- it was a welcome relief. A reprieve from feeling like a 7th grade girl who has no idea what to do with her body and clumsily sputters through her days in an awkward, self-conscience haze of small disasters.

I learned something really important the other day at the spa: Don’t go unless you plan on going naked- otherwise your whole experience will just be ruined. Just get naked from the get-go.

Just kidding. Sort of. Not really. #benaked

What I really learned was quite simple: Don’t be so hard on yourself. Because when you are, the pressure is crippling. Anxiety will almost always have the wrong effect on you. And you are bound to get tangled up in your bathrobe with that kind of pressure. It’s too much to bare (get it? hee-hee).

This my friends is the good life.

Take a deep breath. Relax. And only apply pressure when absolutely necessary.