I’m not sure what this says about my character, but I love spas. And I mean love that borders on an obsessive intense passion the likes of which is rarely encountered outside of a Mills and Boon novel set in the 18th century about the forbidden passion between a poor working class seamstress and her square jawed, devastatingly good looking, brooding landlord. If that description strikes you as being a little bit excessive, it doesn’t even begin to convey the depth of my emotions for a spa.
Whoever invented the spa should be canonized and a little altar put up in every household. I love the very idea of it, a hallowed cocoon whose sole purpose of existence is to pamper, sooth and comfort with emollients, scented steam and essential oils. Just the word makes me happy.
And when it comes to spas, I’m famously non-discriminatory. Any place that requires me to do nothing but be still while other people do all the work qualifies as a spa to me.
“So, by that definition, I guess a bus is a spa?” Amanda said to me the other day.
“You’re just being obtuse now,” I replied primly as I sent a text message to my therapist at Chien Chi Tow to confirm my appointment that afternoon. “I don’t know why you won’t come with me for the herbal steam. It’s just amazing!”
“It’s not even a spa!” Amanda said firmly with the kind of authority that you find only in Harvard graduates. “What kind of a self respecting spa is located in Bendemeer Road?”
“Well, it’s not the Ritz-Carlton,” I admitted, “but really, it’s just the most amazing thing ever. Look, just try it once. I’ll even pay for it!”
But it was no good. Saffy, of course, who has no qualms about going anywhere outside of Districts 9 and 10, was up for a new experience.
“Amanda really needs to lighten up,” she said in the cab. “But listen, there’s no hanky-panky in this place right? Because, I’m really not in the mood for it today. I really do just need a nice pampering session because…”
I frowned as I mentally rewound the last few seconds. “Wait a minute,” I held up my hand, stopping Saffy in mid-sentence. “What do you mean you’re not in the mood for it today? You mean there’s hanky panky in your spa sessions on other days?”
The sudden colouring on Saffy’s cheeks was instructive. She turned her attention on the taxi driver. “Uncle, if you turn off here, we can get to Bendemeer Road faster!”
Later that evening, Saffy was careful to avoid her little misstep as she recounted her Chien Chi Tow experience in graphic, blow-by-blow detail to Amanda.
“Oh my God, it was so amazing!” she said.
“I don’t see how it could be…” Amanda began, but Saffy was on a roll.
“It really is nothing to look at from the street and if I hadn’t know better, I would probably have walked right past it, and the interiors have that gawdawful fluourescent lighting and the change room is this dinky little cubicle and to get to the toilet you have to wear communal slippers but the staff are so sweet and because they weren’t too busy the auntie basically stood next to my steam box and chatted with me the entire time but really I haven’t sweated so much in such a long time and you would think that I’d get claustrophobic because you remember how I get when I get into the toilet on a plane but I didn’t at all and I think it’s because of all those wonderful herbs they put in so I just felt like I was being gently poached but in a good way because every so often the auntie would dab my brow and when it was all over twenty minutes later and she lifted the lid I swear I felt so amazing and oddly so clean…”
Amanda spotted a gap and dived in. “I don’t see how sweating profusely in a confined space is…”
“But you don’t understand because the sweating opens up all your pores to release all the crappy toxins and then the good stuff from the herbs go in and cleanse your blood and your system and when you come out and dry down your skin feels so smooth and clean and…”
“…And you smell like double boiled chicken soup!” I said, anxious that I not be left out of the conversation.
“Oh my God, that’s exactly it!” sighed Saffy whose favourite dish in the world is doubled boiled chicken soup.
Amanda says right there is another reason why people go the Ritz-Carlton spa.