Sunday, December 16, 2007

Robe and slippers

I had been looking forward to Saturday for months -- it was BFF Hanukkah/Christmas spa extravaganza! M and I had been trying to plan a day at the spa for a year (not even kidding) but both of us kept procrastinating. Finally, around Thanksgiving she asked me if I wanted to do a day at the Spa for the holidays this year. It was the perfect solution.

We chose the Elizabeth Arden Red Door Spa because I'd been to the one in Darien (Conn.) and enjoyed it. The spa's flagship is on 5th Ave. and it seemed like the perfect day -- spa, then shopping. I called and made the reservations for both of us. The best part was at the end of the call when the attendant confirmed our reservations. "Make sure you show up at least 15 minutes early," she said, "for robe and slippers." Ah, robe and slippers. It sounded so nice! Also loaded in there -- not having to worry about anything because we were about to get pampered.

The weather had other ideas however. Saturday was cold, windy and generally nasty. The kind of day when you don't want to leave home. I was awoken unceremoniously at 7:30 AM by my upstairs neighbor. Someone set their vibrating cellphone on the floor as an alarm, and it went off three different times in the span of 15 minutes. There was no getting back to sleep after that. It dumped me straight into a grumpy mood. That didn't mean I wanted to get out of bed though. I think I stayed there until noon.

Finally I got up and readied myself. At 1:30, I left so I could make it to the spa by 2. I took the 6 to 51st St and transferred to the E. That dropped me off at 53rd at 5th, less than a block away. I knew to look for a big red door (the spa's entrance) but unfortunately for me I came out on the same corner as the spa door and could not see it behind me. In a comedy of errors, I walked a block in either direction on 5th Ave, then hit three of the corners at 54th. I finally called the spa (their advice? Look for the big red door -- thanks.) and was able to figure out where to go by naming the stores on each corner. For the record, it's on the northeast corner of the block.

I also called M and told her my dilemma. From across the street, I saw her waving frantically at me. I waved back and crossed. I got to the big red door and pushed. It didn't open. What the hell? I pushed again...then I realized it was a pull. Ah. Did I mention I really needed a spa day?

Inside, M and I hugged and squealed, and then made our way to the 9th floor. We checked in -- she was getting a massage and a pedicure while I signed up for a massage and a facial. After checking in we were told to change into robe and slippers.

M and I had been debating how many layers we needed to take off -- down to skivvies? Bra yes or no? Nothing at all? I sheepishly asked an attendant. The verdict was skivvies only, but I kept my bra on for comfort. The attendant took our clothes and gave us a coat check-style medallion.

Since we were a bit early, they told us to go into the relaxation room to wait for our masseuses. The room was quite nice but there were two teenage Chatty Cathys in there that made my eyes roll into the back of my head. Blah de blah blah blah aaaahhhhh! Shut up shut up shut up, my look said to M, who laughed. Robe and slippers, I kept telling myself, robe and slippers. There was also some woman who was wound up more tightly than I was. I guess her appointment was running very late and she did not look happy. So much for relaxation.

A couple of minutes later M and I were whisked away separately to our massage rooms. I don't know why but I was kind of nervous. I shouldn't have been though because it was wonderful. The room smelled like eucalyptus and the lights were very low. New agey music was playing. My masseuse told me to disrobe and get in between several layers of sheets and towels on the table. He stepped outside while I did. I guess I wasn't listening very well because when he came back in I was in the wrong layer. He stepped out again and I righted myself -- above the blue towel, below the sheet. OK.

During my massage, I never feel asleep but I felt very relaxed for most of it. I was a bit self conscious about a stranger seeing nearly everything, but I got over it. I tried hard to suppress it, but I giggled when he was massaging my feet. By the end, I couldn't believe it had been 55 minutes.

Next I went down to the 8th floor for my facial. The masseuse guided me to the waiting room and told me to drink some water, which I did. Then my facial consultant came out to get me. She was awesome! She had developed some of the products in the Elizabeth Arden facial line, including this awesome mask she used on me that smelled like papaya. I told her it reminded me of my trip to Hawaii earlier this year. Before the mask was my glycolic peel. First she asked me why I wanted one. I wanted one because my chin has been breaking out something awful since I moved into the city. And I do not usually break out.

She told me that breakouts on my chin are caused by hormones. Forehead breakouts are caused by digestion she said, and middle of the face by stress. Interesting. In any event, since it was my first time she used a low concentration of the peel. Glycolic peels are one of the gentle peels anyway -- they shouldn't really burn. Since they are not licensed dermatologists, the spa has to use a less potent solution. She cleansed my face, and then put the peel on.

"Tell me when the burning feels like a 3 out of 5," she said. "And I will fan you." Except I never got to a 3. The peel didn't hurt at all. It just kind of tingled. She had a timer going and when it was done, she took the peel off and then put a cool towel on my face. Then came the mask -- oh my lord it was heaven. It smelled good and felt good. She left the mask on for 20 minutes and I nearly fell asleep again.

When time was up, she washed the mask off (aww) and then moisturized. She recommended some products for me but I didn't buy any. Maybe I'll go back for the mask sometime. After the facial was done I thought M and I would meet up but I was running a bit ahead of schedule and she was a bit behind. Every facial comes with a complimentary makeup touch-up. It was hysterical -- I looked like a space alien when they first put on my foundation. Then the artist tried lining my lower lid, but my eyes kept tearing. She wasn't exactly gentle, either. My top eyelid ended up heavily lined and when I was done I looked...odd. Sort of like when I was on the campus TV station in college, except with lighter eyeshadow. The liner was really thick. I couldn't stop looking at myself and laughing.

Still no sign on M, so I went back up to the 9th floor and grudgingly changed out of robe and slippers. I paid, and then went back down to the 8th floor to wait. She came out of the second elevator right as I excited the first. I waited while she got her makeup done (she came out looking similarly silly, we laughed at each other). Then I waited while she changed and paid.

Neither of us felt much like shopping and her boyfriend was meeting her not too much later anyway. So we said our goodbyes. I went home, incredibly overdressed to play videogames and chat on the phone.

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