I get winded opening my Jane Fonda workout DVD, step barefoot on one of Julia's plastic ninja legos when I go for the remote, and take it as a sign to skip the cardio and go straight to my new book, Self-Healing with Reiki, by Penelope Quest. Do parents name a baby Penelope Quest so she can grow up to write something with the subtitle How to Create Wholeness, Harmony & Balance for Body, Mind & Spirit? And what kind of sentence has two ampersands in it? This is the sort of thing my mind & spirit think about while I'm supposed to be visualizing the Reiki light expanding so that it "flows through your skin, spreading out to fill your aura." I also think about lunch.
In an actual spa, a highly trained chef would steam something fabulous that would leave me feeling satiated yet virtuous. I consider letting Julia take a whack at this. But she is a big fan of mixing savory and sweet, and as such, tends to garnish with Gummi Bears, so I will be my own highly trained chef. I have the tofu and green juice, which is a little like drinking a really delicious lawn. Jules sucks contentedly on her Hot Pocket (which in retrospect could have done with another 30 seconds in the microwave), and stares at my tofu. "You know, Mommy, that would be a whole lot better if we'd covered it in rainbow sprinkles."
The time has come for some post-tofu hair removal. I read through the directions included with the self-threader and set it up. On a scale of complexity, this falls somewhere between disarming a midlevel nuclear device and building an Ikea bookcase. I decide to start with little Audrey (that's right, I've named my lone black chin hair Audrey), but she refuses to budge and I am acutely aware that one wrong move could cost me my eyelashes. I resolve to leave Audrey alone and simply spend the rest of my life in dimly lit rooms. Then Julia points out two key things: (1) O's beauty department has sent along a jar of sugar wax, and (2) I've got a mustache. You think you have a kid so you can pre-board planes, but they're also excellent for pointing out your every flaw.
I apply the wax to my upper lip, rub my hand across the strip of cloth I've placed over the wax, and attempt to pull in the opposite direction of the hair growth. I get through a quarter inch and decide it hurts in the way that giving birth during a kidney stone attack while being pepper sprayed by a pit bull as an Enya song plays might hurt. I beg Julia to give it a fast yank. She refuses on the grounds that she doesn't want to be the one to inflict pain...here's hoping she remembers that when she hits her teen years. I cover the lower third of my face with a scarf and we run to the nail salon across the street, where a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Muammar Qaddafi is all too delighted to pull the wax off for 12 bucks—a small price to pay, if it keeps me from being mistaken for Gene Shalit.
At home again, I decide to wash my face with the Clarisonic. Thanks to a sonic frequency of more than 300 movements per second, the Clarisonic brush is said to remove six times the makeup and twice the dirt and oil of manual cleansing, so let's add sanding off my nose in a freak face-washing accident to my ever-growing list of phobias.
Clean, and with my nose still intact, I ask my assistant to glop on the Borghese Fango Active Mud for Face and Body mask. The Internet tells me that this mineral-rich product is sourced from "Tuscany's volcanic hills." It's supposed to "detoxify impurities" and provide my skin with "youthful radiance." We give it ten minutes before sponging off. Julia inspects her work. "Do you feel youthful and radiant, Mommy?"
I feel the way I felt when I spent an entire day just hanging out with my mother at our home spa, which consisted of an emery board and a jar of Noxzema. I feel the way I felt when we ran errands and listened to Buffy Sainte-Marie, and she sipped her Tab because the FDA hadn't yet banned cyclamates, and I sipped my milk shake because I had trouble keeping weight on...a problem that has since been resolved.
My mother probably wanted a little time off for good behavior and I probably wanted permission to babysit William, the class guinea pig. For the record, my mother said yes to William, but you have to understand that she is a much nicer person than I am, and William ate only lettuce. Julia spots a splotch of mud behind my ear and dabs it away. Tomorrow I've got work and she's got school and God only knows what the world's got planned, but today has been lovely. I take a deep breath and feel my shoulders unknot. "Yep," I say to the young lady holding the pinkest polish I've ever laid eyes on, "I feel totally youthful and completely radiant."
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