My favorite healthclub closed after twenty-five years. I was there almost every day. I'm not adjusting very well.
What I miss more than the pool, the tennis and racketball courts, the
track, the basketball court, the weight room, the sauna, the
whirlpool, the restaurant, the volleyball court, the industrial
strength showers, the Pilates room, the obscene amount of equipment,
the excessive number of those huge plastic balls with the nipples on
them, the large TV in the lounge, my friends, and the spinning classes, was the spa.
Despite a pink neon sign which announced its presence in the main area
of the club, THE SPA was actually tucked away in a secret place down a
hallway, up a private stairway, at the end of a long corridor. I usually
just took the shortcut through the women's lockeroom out the back
entrance so I could get my hair done, my body massaged, my feet
pedicured, my hands manicured, and have unwanted hair removed from my
body with hot wax.
The Spa was like a separate community with its own distinctive, perfumy
smells, longtime staff and club regulars, including myself.
Over the years, I noticed as I aged and my body broke down again and
again that I began to spend less and less time working up a sweat and
more and more time working up a big bill for pampering. So sue me.
When the announcement of the club's demise was sent to all the members
and staff, my main concern was where all the people who kept up my
superficial appearance would be going. Unfortunately they scattered.
My favorite massage therapist went to work with her chiropractor
brother in some distant suburb. Luckily my Russian manicure pedicure
and unwanted hair removal lady landed at a new salon not far from me.
It just opened so everything is freshly painted and the equipment still
has that new car smell. I've already been there a couple of times and
I'm making a happy transition to the chatter of women from the former
Soviet Republic who all drive big black Mercedes sedans. And those are just the ladies who work there.
Unfortunately, the annoyingly chatty Armenian woman who has been
cutting my hair for the past couple of years chose a different place. I
used to put up with her incessant talking because it was so convenient
to get my hair done after the rest of my body had been re-tooled, since
all I had to do was get up and walk across the salon.
Now that I've been to her new place a couple of times I decided today that I am not going back. In fact, I refuse.
The problem is that I like to call for an appointment, talk to someone
who schedules it, show up, have the shampoo person wash my hair, have
the stylist blow it dry and be on my way.
Now I have to call my stylist directly and make the appointment with
her. Instead of just taking one call to accomplish this task, it takes
three. Aside from her accent which makes it hard to understand her, she
wants me to schedule time when it's convenient for HER not ME.
The other day I called her to schedule a haircut. After a long
discussion we came up with a time that was good for both of us. She
immediately called back to say that I could also have a manicure and
pedicure too. "You vill luff her, she is fabulous." What's with the
hard sell? I reminded her that I still go to my old manicure pedicure
person at her new place. Five minutes later she called back again to
say I could come in earlier or later if I wanted. I didn't want to.
STOP CALLING ME!!!!
In most salons, the other stylists don't talk to you. People speak in
hushed tones, your coat is taken and hung up, a gown appears to cover
your clothes, refreshments are offered, magazines are provided. You
feel tended to, cared for.
Now, when I show up at my hair stylist's new place of business, I feel
like I'm walking into an Armenian cafe. The two men who own the salon
both jump up to greet me with a lot of noise and fanfare. I keep
waiting for one of them to ask how many are in my party today, hand me
a menu and tell me what the specials are.
My talkative stylist begins chattering like Ivana Trump on speed. In
fact, today I noticed that she looks and sounds a lot like a shorter
version of The Donald's former wife.
All the patrons, men and women, look up to see what all the commotion
is about. I do not like to be the center of attention BEFORE hair and
makeup, thank you.
Today I realized I also don't like going to a salon that caters to men
and women together. I really don't like having my hair washed next to a
guy who's having his hair washed at the same time. I also don't like
looking in the mirror while my hair is being styled and watching some
guy with his sweat pants rolled up to his knees get a pedicure behind
Things at Chatty Cathy's Armenian salon are just a little too casual
for my taste. She must have sensed something was wrong because she
offered me a free mini dermabrasian with her new machine. I've
never had one so I said, FREE? Sure.
But I should have changed my mind when she took me to a cramped back room
behind some old curtains. There was a table to lie on that was too
short for me. I decided to sit instead of lie down, but first she had
to move the paper plates, pistachio nuts and remains from an earlier
meal off the chair. She left the room and came back with a plastic bag
full of creams and lotions which she spilled out on the table. She
switched on the machine and began to work on my face, sandblasting it
with crystals that had to be removed with a teeny tiny vacuum when she
After wiping my face with a damp handtowel that looked and, even
worse, smelled like it had been used to clean the floor at one time,
she gave me a perfunctory facial massage, using some of the creams from
the bag. But she cut it short when her next client arrived and my hair
wasn't styled yet.
For some reason she had the salon's new manicure and pedicure lady sit
next to me while my hair was being styled. The owner came over and
mentioned that I could have a pedicure and a manicure today and
pointedly nodded to the woman sitting next to me. She just sat there
like a vulture, doing nothing, looking at me with an obsequious
smile. I smiled back politely and said nothing.
COULD YOU PEOPLE GIVE IT A REST?
Then came the straw that broke the camel's back. As I sat with my eyes
closed in an attempt to keep her nonstop conversation to a minimum, I
realized she wasn't just on autopilot, she had asked me a question. My
crazy stylist wondered if I liked sushi. I opened my eyes and said yes,
thinking that somebody was ordering out. But she said, "Let's haf
lunch -- ve go and have sushi." She wanted to make a lunch DATE?
Spend time with her outside the salon? Like we're friends? That
tears it. I'm done. Do my hair and get me outa here. A line has been
crossed. I thought my substantial tips entitled me to special
treatment, not unwanted familiarity.
I left after I insisted on paying for that dreadful mini dermabrasian
that left my face feeling like sandpaper until I slathered it with two
coats of Nivea. I think I'll be doing my own hair for awhile.
I could use the peace and quiet.