Spa Day: A Fancy Cruise Story

I’m not really a fancy lady. I’d never gone to a proper spa nor had I ever had a professional massage until this cruise.  You see, spas and professional massages seemed like things fancy ladies did with their fancy disposable income. Whereas my disposable income tends to go towards things that appeal to say goofy men with Peter Pan syndrome. You know, the absolute antithesis (or arch nemesis, perhaps) of a proper “fancy lady,” but definitely someone Mary Martin could sing about.  And here I was on this fancy cruise, with my fancy friends and my fancy family, thinking maybe my fancy little back might deserve a fancy little rub on one of these “fun days at sea”. It turns out that for me, my fancy little traps, thanks to fancy leisurely rowing, are a little (lot) tight. In fact, they sense I’m typing about them now, and they’re tensing up just to get some attention (or it could be that I’m sitting at a desk and have been all day – or it could be that I threw a lot of axes last night (I’m not kidding, I totally did that) Anyway, I can anthropomorphize my trapezius muscle if I want to – you worry about yourself).

(For Heather :))

So, on Day 2 of the cruise I made my way to the ship’s spa and signed up. Now the original idea was to get a deep tissue massage, but that turned into The Manager’s Special with its promises of bamboo, hot oil, a facial, something with my feet, and the clear promise I’d emerge relaxed and fancy. Dream massage was sooo… dreamy.

My friend Heather prepped me on what to expect. See, one reason I dislike a lot of fancy things is that sometimes I fear there are certain unspoken rules, or rituals one must follow that everyone else is in the know about except for me. I mean, what if I did something wrong? I could be spa-shamed! Then that information would likely travel through the back channels of the masseuse/masseur world, and the next thing you know I’d be eyed warily every time I passed a spa, massage parlor, or sidewalk carnivorous foot nibbling fish bucket purveyor. I wouldn’t live it down! EVER!!! Breathe Beth, BREATHE! I can do this.

When I enter the room it’s pleasantly dim, smells delightful, the music is peaceful if a bit new age-y, and the masseuse speaks in a soothing calm voice. Whew. I can do this! She begins my brushing my arms and legs with a cactus bristle brush. She explains it’s used on autistic children to calm them down. I ummm… wait. What? What are you saying? Am I being odd? I don’t know. Quick check. Ok, well other than the talking in your head thing. People do that, you know. Don’t be a freak. Breathe. Make polite conversation. “Interesting.” Good one. Nice save. I can do this?

I’ll fast forward a bit, because pretty much it could be boiled down to: hot things on my body feel great, and all of my muscles being rubbed also feel great (save maybe some knots that couldn’t be worked out in my shoulders).  And being called “dahhh’ling” excessively is vaguely annoying, but tolerable because of the aforementioned hot things and massage. Then we hit part of the appointment that was the hard sell, and the hard sell went a bit like this:

Dahhhling, your back muscles are a complete MESS (in the most disappointed/horrified/silky voice ever). There are crystals forming in your back, and the muscles are LEECHING calcium from your bones, Dahhhling.  For $170 you can buy this amino acid that you just apply a few drops to your shoulders, and that will break up the crystals.

What? I’m not sure that’s even real science. (Inner voice)

Dahhhling, you may need a back massage once or twice a week, and it will never be right. It’s just a temporary fix, Dahhhling. Are you sure you don’t want the drops? No? Let me put those away then.

Dahhhling, your skin is so dry. You look old! You must moisturize. Here are (insert a host of products being lined up one by one starting as low as $45 and scaling up to about $80) that will make you look much younger. Even I use them, and I am 27, can you believe it?

No. I would have gone younger. (Inner voice)

Dahhhling, now here’s the final bill. You’ll see the 18% tip has been applied; however, you may tip more if you wish.

Bless your sweet little heart, darlin’, I do not wish, but thanks for the opportunity. (Inner voice)

By the time Heather got to me in the spa lobby, having had a wonderful massage, I was in a fetal position (on the inside) and feeling vaguely sticky, withered, like an un-moisturized husk who clearly looks every bit of 80. We won’t even talk about these parasitic muscles.

And that’s how I spent a part of the second day while trying to be fancy on the cruise, and six days later, when people asked for my opinion about the cruise, it added to what annoyed me. And yes, this always had to be the second story. It continues to set-up my initial knee-jerk reaction, but as I mentioned before, there’s always more to a story, and there’s still more to this one.

Welcome to installment part deux!

My Name is Beth

Every now and again a blogger will get the idea that it’s time to tell the world a little bit about themselves.  Sometimes they’re prompted by an award that demands they answer a specific number or set of personal questions.  Other times it’s a meme that’s inspired their latest outpouring.  For me, today, it’s a combination of things: my sketch class and a few recent encounters, which is why I’ve decided to post two facts about myself.

My name is Beth

I know it’s a difficult and overly complicated name, but there you have it.  It’s Beth.  Well, it’s Elizabeth if you really must know.  Blame my parents who got it in their heads to name me after an elderly relative.   They didn’t realize at the time that it was one of those names that should have been retired at the turn of the century (the last century, well, the one before that) like its outdated counterparts: Harriet, Matilda, Almira and Dorcas.

You really don’t meet many Beth’s these days and in all honestly you’d probably be hard-pressed to name a single famous person who carries that name or it’s more proper form, Elizabeth.  No monarchs, no actresses, no politician’s wives.  I know, I’m typing that sentence and can’t think of a single one.

Lately, it’s gotten to the point where I’ve found myself repeating this phrase: “No, I’m Beth”.  This usually comes after the person has run through all the names of the people in the room and they’re still drawing a blank. “No, still not David.  Nope, not Angie either.  Yep, it’s Beth.  No, I’m pretty sure.”

This happened at the recent family reunion where I had 5-6 people shouting my step-mother’s name at me.  Their repeated chant of her name grew progressively louder as it occurred to them that I clearly didn’t know my own name.  I finally looked up, with some heavy prompting from a friend, and said “I’m Beth”.  They all looked a bit flustered trying to decide if I’d sassed the lot of them in some way and then seemed to forget why hollering at me had become so important. “Did that girl just say “Beth”? No manners, that one to say ‘Beth’ in public like that.  Gets that from her mother’s side.  Mmm hmm. Her daddy should have raised her better.  ‘Beth’ indeed. I have the mind to ‘Beth’ her in a minute.” Finally, and a little more timidly, someone asked, “Beth, would you like some ice cream?” as they tried that “Beth” out on their tongues for the first time.

This also happens in my sketch class, but it’s a little more understandable.  I’ve only taken classes from this instructor for a short period of time, something like 34 weeks (8 months and some change, if you’re counting) – hardly time to really get to know someone.  Plus, the class is packed.  I think we’re up to 5 people.  Honestly, I can’t keep up with their names either.

Now, I do accept that it may not only be the odd name; it could actually be my plain face.  I mean I kind of blend with the purple running through my hair and the heavy framed glasses, but what’s a girl to do to stand out?

So, I decided to make things easier on folks and went to CaféPress and made the following shirt that I’ve now worn to class:

The actual shirt I had made.

I find its really helped.  Although, truth be told, my classmates and friends still stumble over all of the syllables.  Sadly, there’s not much I can do to make my name any less complicated.

I am under 50

Not that there’s anything wrong with being over 50.  Some of my favorite people are over 50.  I just don’t happen to be there quite yet.  Here’s an example of some of the questions/comments I’ve been asked as recently as last week:

“Is this gift for your 50th anniversary?” (Not only am I not 50, I’m actually not old enough to be of an age where I could celebrate my 50th anniversary.  Sure, I come from hillbilly stock, but even my family was only willing to go so far.  They couldn’t afford the dowry.)

“Wow, I wasn’t even born then.” (Neither was I. This was after I told the clerk the anniversary gift was for my in-laws.)

“Is this your daughter?” (Asked of me when a friend of mine, who happens to be 4 years younger, and I went out to eat.  No, she’s not my daughter.  While I think I was an amazing 4 year old, I wasn’t quite up to birthin’ babies; the physiology was all wrong and we weren’t “that” family.)

“Aren’t you a member of AARP?” (Actually asked about 10 years ago when I could say I wasn’t 40.)

Now, there was this brief period when I loved being thought of as older.  That was 8th grade when a staff member at my Jr. High mistook me for a student teacher, but that thrill ended on that day. Over the next 4 years of school I had to explain on more than one occasion that no, I did not pay the teacher rates for school lunches.  This is probably why I eventually stopped eating school cafeteria food (or maybe it was the quality of the food).  Sure, there were benefits to looking older.  I was never carded.  I could slip into the occasional R rated movie and there may have been a time that a certain restaurant did serve me margaritas when I was 16, that was cool.

I came to the conclusion long ago (after about 16). Looking older: mostly great when you are 16 and want a margarita before you slip in to see “Porky’s Revenge” (and not paying teacher’s rates for food or arguing at the pool that you pay the teen rate), not so great when you’re trying to explain to a store clerk that you’re not actually in your 70’s.

Me at 70! (Well, me at 67 – what a difference a few years can make.)

There you have it – two unsolicited facts about me.  Now it’s your turn. Tell me something about you!