Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shells and Peas

On Saturday I had the ultimate pleasure of spending the day at the Nob Hill Spa. After the debacle of Friday night with the lost child, the timing couldn't have been better. Plus it was pouring down rain and leaving George the Elder in the house without a car with the two boys was, in a word, satisfying.

George the elder mentioned that he was getting some flack about the whole "date night" thing. The Spa Day thing should make it worse. Yes, George regularly gets me the gift of a spa day. Typically, this Spa Day has a price. That price is moving. I plan, execute, pack and unpack. He calls a really nice spa and orders me a day o' relaxation. Since we move a lot, I get to go a lot. And yes, sometimes he just gets me one for the heck of it. He's just a nice guy.

This was my first time in a US spa in a while. I learned quickly that the whole "naked" thing that is standard and acceptable (and frankly required) in all European and Asian spas is not the deal here in the States. Everyone had their bathing suits on. Color me embarrassed. Not that I strutted around in my birthday suit - - in fact, I doubt anyone noticed my unintended nudist colony gear - - still there's something about being appropriately dressed or undressed that is meaningful to most women. I felt - - well, naked.

The only really funny thing that day was that the facialist - with the utmost sincerity - described to me the "sea shell" age-defying massage that was to be a part of my 90 minute facial. Did she honestly believe that those very sea shells, the ones that she was pointing at like Carol Merrill in Let's Make A Deal, possessed awesome magical powers? She discussed this treatment with such veracity and earnestness that I could sense no tiny morsel of guile whatsoever. She believed with every fiber of her facialist soul that what she was saying was true. I was, without a doubt, going to look younger thanks to something that washed up on a beach somewhere. Crack me up. I thought about egging her on -- such as asking her exactly how much younger I was going to look when she was finished. Would I need to be carded again? But she was so refreshingly sweet and I had just had a 2 hour massage. I couldn't get up the energy to incite her. I let her rub my face with sea shells. I look exactly the same. Rats.

So that was Saturday. Today, I had another respite of a sort. I spent the better part of 2 hours in a super-fantastic-better-than-average MRI machine. I'm not kidding about the better than normal part. I was asked to take part in a new MS study that is trying to connect genetics with the incidence of MS. Apparently, being a WASP comes with a higher incidence of MS. What's up with those darn pilgrims? But, since I don't have to do anything but provide them with 16 vials of blood once a year - - and I get to have a free annual MRI in one of the coolest most powerful MRI machines - - what the heck, why not?

This bad johnny took up the better part of a very large room. It was the biggest thing I have ever been inserted in to. Every time I get rolled in to one of those machines I keep imagining myself as a bar of clinique soap. Only this time, because the machine is so powerful and exact, I had to have my head strapped down for the test and then jammed in to a pretty nifty, and snug fitting, little plastic helmet. I think that look, combined with the hospital pants, top and robe in three different muted hospital patterns, was clearly one of my better ones. Too bad I didn't have a mirror or a camera. It was a frame it and put it on the mantle moment.

I did have two realizations during the test. First, I confirmed that I can sleep through just about anything. Even though I was strapped down with my head in a vice; even though I was being assaulted with the deafening sound of rotating magnets; even though in this Mack-Daddy of MRI machines, the deafening sound of rotating magnets is also accompanied by a high pitch continuous squeal that would make dogs howl and cower - - - - I slept like a rock for the first hour and a half.

Second, I found out that I have a highly sensitive head. When I woke up from my nap, I realized that I had a GIANT pain in the back of my head. I was absolutely certain that there was a very sharp thing - -a pebble, a rock, a thumb tack or a witch's severed claw - digging in to my head. I couldn't move, and being removed from the machine at that point means you get to start all over again, so I tried to relax and wait it out. I made it for the next 20 minutes or so, but was certain that there would be blood or a lump or something from what ever it was that was burrowing in to my skull. When I was able to stand up to examine the foreign object, I was expecting to see something huge and pointy. Interestingly, the GIANT foreign thing was - - a tiny itsy-bitsy crease in the sheet. I am a living example of the Princess and the Pea. Not only do people of my genetic background have a higher incidence of MS, it appears that we also have some royal blood in the fairytale sense. Obviously, had the sheets been more than 1000 count my last 20 minutes would have been more pleasant. I'll bring my own pillow case next year.

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