Sunday, July 31, 2011

For Whom the Spa Tolls

"All that really belongs to us is time; even he who has nothing else has that."—Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658)

Last December, my daughter, Jessica, found a solution to the age-old question of what to get me for the holidays. She knows I have little interest in "things." The greatest gift my loved ones can give me is their time. Whenever I say this, it is usually met with groans and rolling eyes. But this year, Jessica rose to the challenge and bought a Spa Day for me, her sister and herself so we could enjoy a mother/daughter day together. Brilliant!

Due to a bit of procrastination, no one called to make an appointment until March and the earliest time the Jeunesse Spa had open was in early May. So we bided our time and eventually the weekend of our appointment arrived. Unfortunately, the spa called us the day before our family event to tell us that they had plumbing issues so would have to reschedule. Our new appointment would not be until the end of July.

They have trademarked the phrase:

“Spa Moments...Cherish Them.”
The week leading up to our appointment, a spa staff member left a message on my answering machine every day, asking for a confirmation. Every day, I called back to confirm. This, however, had no effect and the spa staff continued to call me every day to request the already supplied confirmation once more. This led me to seriously question my credibility.

Finally, I left them a message informing them that having confirmed three times I was not prepared to confirm anymore, so please stop calling me. That seemed to work. My daughter also confirmed for good measure.

"This time, like all times, is a very good one, if we but know what to do with it."—Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Our big day finally arrived and my younger daughter, Chelsea, and I caught a bus in New Jersey. Jessica lives in Queens, so we planned to meet at the Port Authority in New York City.

The relaxation room. Ah...
Unfortunately, I had forgotten to take the gift certificates for our spa day, so we all had to go back to Queens so Jessica could print out new copies. This meant that we had to skip our leisurely lunch and rush directly to the Jeunesse Spa.

Apparently, Jeunesse is French for "the time of one's youth," which certainly applies to my two daughters, but not to me. I suppose it would not do to call the place "the time of one's youth and/or advancing age." Not quite as trendy.

When we arrived, they offered us free wine, a great tactic for putting clients in a good mood. Then we were escorted to a locker room where we were invited to exchange our street clothes for bathrobes and plastic sandals.

Jessica was taken away by a staff member while Chelsea and I were led to a waiting room with a large television screen. The screen had a scene of a red flowing river. It moved slowly and looked somewhat stagnant. I remarked to Chelsea that the river looked polluted. She replied that it was lava and meant to be relaxing. Really? Oh. To me, it looked like a vision of Hell. But okay. The picture shifted to a bubbling mud caldera, then steaming geysers. These scenes of oppressive heat, rather than offering serenity, left me feeling uncomfortable in a way that only another menopausal woman could understand.

Finally Rosa came to lead me to the massage room. The room was warm—almost as warm as I was. She told me to get comfortable and she would be back in a few minutes. I disrobed and lay down on the massage table. Soon Rosa returned and a truly relaxing massage ensued. The background music was New Age with some screaming gulls, the latter of which took some getting used to. An hour later, I was back in the locker room getting dressed for my manicure and pedicure.

Chelsea chose avant garde green; I went with traditional pink.
Chelsea and I were led to some chairs with foot pools, where we were offered more wine and encouraged to choose which color we wanted for our nails. Chelsea choose a provocative shade of green and I selected a more conventional hot pink.

The woman who painted my nails was from Nepal. Her family had won a lottery there and they used the money to move to the United States seven years ago. She and her family now live in Queens. Half of her family is Hindu and the other half is Buddhist. Of course, most everyone in New York City is from somewhere else, so her exotic background did not make her stand out. I guess you could say she is a typical New Yorker.

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so."—Douglas Adams (1952 - 2001)

Our nails were soon done, and Jessica emerged from her massage, so we went to the front desk to pay our tips and head off for a very late, 4 p.m. lunch. We sat outside at a local cafe, caught up on what was going on in our lives and enjoyed our time together. As holiday presents go, it was one of the best I had ever received.

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