On days when you feel exhausted and think you deserve to be pampered, you head to the spa. I would prefer to say ‘spa’ or ‘salon’ to sound sophisticated. But the unfortunate truth is that small towns like mine have no spacious spas, only cramped beauty parlours. Which are often simply an extra room in someone’s house, which the lady uses to earn a living. But then we are grateful for what we get, especially if we discover someone who keeps a neat and clean place, and suits our tight budgets.
But if you believe you are going to feel relaxed in a parlour (and I suspect this is true for spas as well), think again. For these are dens where gossip is bandied to and fro like a shuttlecock in a badminton game. Just when you are trying to shut your eyelids and grab a snooze, the assistants in the parlour will begin their chatter. And they will often gossip about one of the girls who is on leave. And once they chatter, you cease to exist. As the gossip turns more intense, their attention to how they are tearing the fuzz off your epidermis is completely distracted. So you may ouch and aah, and curse the hot wax or scalding spatula, but hair will be plucked off your thin skin until you feel like feathers are being ripped off a live chicken.
A good owner of the beauty parlour is one who casually asks you everything that you wouldn’t want to reveal. And be assured, this information will certainly be passed on to the next customer. After all she told you everything about the person who came before you, irrespective of whether you wanted to hear or not. Eventually you are hooked. And one by one, such gems of information will tumble out that you are wide awake from your reverie. No massage can now make you doze off!
One trait that all the ladies in the beauty business have is the ability to make you feel terrible about yourself. Dally that mandatory visit to the parlour for a month, and she will chastize you about your bushy eyebrows. Worse, if they look groomed, you will get a scornful comment about the other parlour lady who gave you ‘crooked’ eyebrows.
It helps if you are a responsive listener. Hearing stories about other ladies’ hairy arms or thinning hair is a better alternative than having the microscope focussed on you. If you don’t care about others’ stories, then be prepared suffer rebukes about your dry skin, split ends, chapped lips and cracked soles. And recommendations to try some new expensive quickfix remedy. You either succumb to their temptation or if you are wise, you will squirm through the suggestion, and change the topic to something more interesting. Like more neighbourhood gossip.
I forgot to mention this earlier. But beauty is always a painful business!
(Featured painting is “A day at the spa” by Cheryl Peddie)