Gertrude’s Diary #19 – The Beautician

Gertrude's Diary

Greetings from Gertrude-land, where everything is shiny. Most noticeably, my face. You see, this morning I redeemed a gift-voucher by paying a visit to a nearby beautician. The shop was closed and so I waited on the brick wall outside, pondering old Sister Mary-Barbara”s advice about the pile-inducing qualities of cold stone. My beauty-therapist was not very late, and before long I was relaxing in the small converted storeroom next door to my local take-away. Ah, the opulence.

I must confess that I don”t really trouble too much with a beauty regime. The sun and substance damage has already been done, and at this stage only surgery is really going to make a difference. But this was a treat, and a generous and thoughtful one at that.

I”ve had a few facials before, but I still can”t quite shake the feeling that removing one”s clothes, donning a gown, and lying on a strange padded table is more like a visit to a doctor than something one does for fun.

Therein lay the misconception, because what followed wasn”t really fun at all. The beautician began the treatment by enumerating the many skin flaws from which I suffer, and admonished me to drink more water and apply more sunscreen. Thankfully she didn”t say anything about late nights and cigarette smoke, so that”s a comfort. Then she applied the first gooey substance. The skin around my chin and neck began to burn and crawl in a way I associate with descriptions of shingles.

“That stings a little,” I remarked, as pleasantly as I could.

“You have very reactive skin,” the beautician replied, somewhat superfluously I thought. A warm cloth was produced after what seemed an endless period of running water, during which time I fought the urge to wipe my face on the curtain and run away.

Some soothing goo was then applied, followed a little later with a spray of something bracing which put me in mind of methylated spirits mixed with orange essence, and which reinvigorated the maddening itch on my neck.

“You have a very thin epidermis.”, I was told.

I attempted to amuse myself with the music coming from the stereo, where sickly sweet pop duets where making way for a muscular American vocalist. I knew I”d heard that voice before, but it was from an era I know little and care less about. Perry Como? Dean Martin? The nagging question proved a useful distraction for what was to come; the eyelash tint, and eyebrow wax.

“Is that uncomfortable”, asked the beautician as she poked around the edge of my eye-lashes with bits of slimy paper.

“Uhhh,” I replied noncommittally.

“The vegetable dye feels very wet and gooey. We usually leave it on for 15 minutes, but let me know if you can”t handle it.” Good grief.

It was time for the eyebrow wax.

“Is that temperature ok”, she enquired sadistically.

“It”s fine.”, I squeaked. “I”m just startled by sensation of very warm wax so near my eye.”, I muttered to myself. (She was actually quite professional. I”m sure I was never really in any danger of being blinded.)

The wax removal was no more painful than you would expect it to be. That is, very painful indeed. Perhaps to try and soften the blow, the beautician then asked me if I would like a hand massage, which turned out to be quite relaxing and enjoyable. It was during the brisk finger shaking that a rousing version of “When a Child Is Born” began playing and I finally realised that I was listening to Johnny Mathis.

“Feelings, whoa whoa whoa, feelings,” he sang. “Peelings””?? I thought light-heartedly, as the mask was removed and the end of the ordeal drew nearer. Only a little more tear-inducing plucking and I was out of there, ready to face the world with slightly surprised-looking eyebrows and heavily coloured lashes. And a shiny face.

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