I’m so fancy! You already know …
–Charli XCX on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy”
I’m no fancy. I don’t play things cool.
Conventional wisdom says that spas and salons provide relaxation and beauty. But on my latest trip there I realized they only give me anxiety and a makeup aesthetic that “It” the horror clown would deem garish.
Let us go then, you and I, / When the evening is spread out against the sky / Like a patient etherized upon a table.
–T.S. Eliot, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
Let’s break the experience down. We all know the oneiric trope of showing up in a public place naked. Important presentation today, but oops! You’ve forgotten your clothes. This turn of events rightfully prompts anxiety.
And yet when you visit a spa, the first thing the attendant does is direct you to cast your perfectly good clothes off, don a blindfold and lie nude under a strange towel. Now, this sequence of events — strip down, surrender control, don blinders — could create a fun 9 1/2 Weeks vibe if played under different circumstances.
But in this supposed house of relaxation, you’re to calmly wait for the privilege of having a fully clothed person burst in on you, Kool-Aid man style. There are so many opportunities for this Kool-Aid man moment to take a turn for the Eli Roth filmography. Does nobody else think of poor defenseless Janet Leigh in her Psycho shower? Best case scenario, you’re greeted not by Norma(n) Bates, but by a khaki-clad frau with questionable unguents and a dismaying enthusiasm for pummeling your nude flesh while forcing chat about the latest weather patterns.
“Did you ever know that you’re my hero? / You’re everything I wish I could be. / I could fly higher than an eagle, ’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”
-Bette Midler, “Wind Beneath My Wings”
“Did you ever put back my towel? I wish I were anywhere but here. I’m not sure why I’m now spread eagle. But I can feel the wind beneath my bingo wings.”
-Violet on Orange spa original