When I turned 50 in January, I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want a big fuss. I’d thrown myself a birthday party two years earlier, when I turned 48, and I figured that was probably enough. I wasn’t thrilled about turning 50, although now that I’m here, I should mention that I’m getting used to the idea. 50 is fine, I guess, and as a friend of mine suggested, “50 is the new fuck you.” I can kind of get behind that as well, so thanks, Claudia!
So, as I warmed up to the idea of entering my 50s, I decided maybe I do want to do something fun, maybe I want to make a fuss after all. But what? I consulted my usual partner in crime for fun ideas, my friend Vivian, and we came up with a plan to spend a few nights in Prince Edward County, touring wineries, eating well, and perhaps even visiting a spa. This seemed like a very solid and exciting plan. Especially the spa portion of the weekend.
I am a regular visitor to a spa, for services I like to call “maintenance.” Waxing, eyebrow tinting (now you all know!) etc. The occasional pedicure or manicure, for special occasions. I have had two facials in my life, which I always feel are extremely decadent, but for this weekend, I wanted something even MORE, something extra, something that screams “Extreme Ladies Who Lunch and Country Club, Bitches.” So I decided on a body wrap. Vivian booked us at the spa about 20 minutes from where we were staying, and off we went.
Have you had a body wrap? I had no actual idea what to expect, but I was ushered in to a dark room with a large rimmed table in the centre. The walls and floor were tile, and a 6-head shower arm was suspended from the ceiling. It honestly was a bit ominous looking, but since I was already there, I got undressed and climbed on the table.
The first step in body wrapping is dry brushing, which feels like someone taking a layer of skin off your body, which I guess they kind of are? This was followed by a salt scrub, which was pretty great. And then, they rinse you off.
The shower, as I mentioned, is on a big arm, and the aesthetician pulls it along to rinse the salt off you. You don’t have to even move, which is pretty amazing. After the salt came the actual body wrap. We chose chocolate because why not? Apparently chocolate has a lot of ingredients that are good for your skin, so take that, MOM.
So you get wrapped in chocolate, and then you get to lie there for awhile, and then the big shower thing comes at you again to rinse you off, and I was marveling at the fact that I was having a shower, without even moving, and thinking “wow, it’s so cool, the table itself drains right on to the floor, and…” and this is when my brain started making comparisons to being in the morgue.
My brain is the reason I can never have nice things. Maybe I’ve watched too much CSI or Law & Order over the years, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this Vichy Shower thing was basically a fancy schmancy version of the apparatus used to wash corpses prior to autopsy, or to prepare the body for embalming and other funereal preparations. I mean, just type vichy shower table into any search engine and you’ll see what I mean. Or, maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll see potential for a lovely, relaxing, spa treatment. Because you’re normal.
To be quite honest, these thoughts didn’t tarnish my experience at all. Which…says a lot about me, perhaps. And when we were safely upright again, and driving back to our hotel, I told Vivian my musings about the body wrap, and the body’s final journey, and to her credit – and the fact that she knows me better than anybody else – she was not overly shocked that I had made that connection. She did laugh at me and say “OF COURSE YOU WOULD THINK THAT YOU WEIRDO” like the excellent friend she is, but surprised? Not really. I am, after all, the same person who considered – while having a massage – how easy it would be for my massage therapist to kill me if she wanted to. Think about it. You’re pretty vulnerable lying naked there on that skinny massage table. Just a good neck snap is all it would take, really.
I think the morals of this story are 1. No one can (or should) take me anywhere ever again, probably. And 2. I am getting darker with age.
“Functionally morbid” is how Caitlin Doughty describes herself in her excellent book Smoke Gets in Your Eyes and Other Lessons from the Crematory, and I like that a lot. I think I will contact her to ask if I can use it.