Friday, January 27, 2006

matthew in the man robe...

Zoe, being a flawless friend, celebrated my birthday early yesterday by taking me for an afternoon of spa treatments and then to a spectacular dinner. She’d kept this a fabulous secret for ages, giving me subtle hints and finally, yesterday, revealing it’s glory. I was to leave work early and meet her at ReFresh Day Spa at 3:15, for a massage, a facial and a manicure. I was also to bring all kinds of fancy clothes, all my toiletries I could possibly need for a night out and fabulous, ethnic jewels.
I love Zoe.
Of course, as I raced home from work and gathered my clothes, I couldn’t decide what to wear. I glanced at the clock. It was 3:15. Fuck. I threw off my cute and flattering work clothes, threw on an unflattering huge sweater and gigantic baggy sweatpants, grabbed my outfits, toiletries and jewels and raced over to ReFresh. Late, I walked in the front door and was greeted by an oddly unattractive woman.
“You must be Beth.”
“I can tell. You look stressed out. Zoe’s waiting in the Women’s Dressing Room for you. You’ve got locker Number 12. I’ll bring you back.”
She led me and my belongs back behind the front desk, into a huge, Asian themed spa. “Over here is the relaxation cocoon. This is where you’ll meet your therapist after you change.”
We then walked in the locker room, passing a robed Zoe along the way.
“Oh my god, hi!”
“Hi! I’m going to get my massage. I’ll see you in the cocoon.”
Unattractive front desk lady that called me stressed then brought me to locker 12.
“This is your locker. Here are slippers and a robe, as well as hangers to hang up your fancy clothes. I know you and Zoe are getting dressed up after your treatments. What shoe size are you?”
“Ugh, I have monstrous feet.”
“Well, you’re so tall! In fact, is that robe too short for you? It’ll only hit your knees. I can get you a much longer robe.”
“Um, whatever you think.”
She slipped away and returned with enormous slippers and a gigantic terrycloth sheet, sewn into a robe. Oh my god. This is the fat people robe.
I undressed from my admittedly frumpy and unflattering sweats and put on the robe, so huge that it practically dragged behind me on the ground. Huge sleeves covered my hands and the belt was about 10 feet long. I looked like Yoda. Oh my god. This is totally the fat people robe.
I went to meet Zoe in the relaxation cocoon.
“Zoe. They made me wear the fat people robe.”
“Oh my god. Shut up. I bet she gave it to you because it’s so much longer. I am your best friend. I would tell you. That is not the fat people robe.”
“Seriously. I’m pretty sure it’s the fat people robe.”
“I’m pretty sure it’s the tall people robe.”
“I bet it’s both, actually.”
“Well, you’re getting it because you’re tall.”
I tried to relax, as Zoe was led away to her massage. Soon, I was met by Louise, a rather alternative but very cool looking masseuse. She guided me into a candle lit massage room, and left me to disrobe and get on the table. Louise is spectacular, and is so gifted at the art of massage, I was almost able to forget about me and my fat people robe. After she was done, she led me back to the relaxation cocoon to wait for my facial.
I sat and sipped my tea, while reading an article about Jake Gyllenhaal in Details Magazine. Soon, a robe-clad man walked in and picked up a magazine as well, sitting across from me waiting for his treatment. I looked at his robe and looked at my robe.
I wasn’t in the fat people robe. I wasn’t in the tall people robe. I was in the man robe.
Oh my god.
He was soon ushered off to a massage and I sat alone once again, now feeling huge, tall and butch. I then noticed a small and gorgeous therapist who kept walking past, looking into the cocoon. She finally popped her head in.
“This is going to sound bizarre, but you’re not Matthew, are you?”
“Do I look like Matthew?”
“Well, no. Of course not. But you’d be surprised. We have clients who use last names, have weird first names…”
“Oh my god. Is it because I’m in the man robe?”
She laughed. “No, no. I’m so sorry. Ugh, I’m so sorry. I’m Monica.”
“I’m BETH.”
“Ugh, I’m so sorry. You totally don’t look like a man.”
“Okay. Great. Thanks.”
Louise came by again. “You know, Beth, you’ve got about 20 minutes until your next treatment. You can go relax in the sauna and steam room if you want. I’ll get you some cucumber water and bring you back.”
“Oh, thank you Louise. That’s perfect.”
Me and my man robe walked back to the dressing room and found the sauna. As I took off my robe and grabbed a towel, unattractive front desk lady brought a newly arrived woman back, a woman who was incredibly, incredibly fat. Unattractive woman immediately ran off to the robe closet and gave incredibly fat woman the Fat/Tall/Masculine people robe.
At this point, I was ready to kill myself. I was seriously ready to commit suicide, I was so convinced that I was a huge, obese man. In my emotional state, my eyes darted about the dressing room in a frantic search for a means of death. While I didn’t see a noose, a gun or some razor blades, I did see a huge basket full of discarded robes.
I think we all know what happened next.
I slipped off my man robe and grabbed a used “One Size Fits Most” woman robe.
I no longer cared what naked body had been inside that unwashed robe before mine. I HAD to know.
Guess what? I’m MOST. Thank fucking god, that robe fit just fine.
I slipped back into my man robe and finally relaxed. After a steam and a sauna, I enjoyed a spectacular facial and met Zoe in the manicure cocoon. We sipped cucumber water and I regaled her and the Korean manicure lady with my man robe story. Both of them were dying of laughter.
“Oh, I so sorry.” My manicurist giggled. “You no fat. You no look like man. You so funny.”
Zoe rolled here eyes. “I told you so. Jesus Christ, Beth.”
“Well, that Matthew shit really put me over the edge.”
“I bet. I can’t believe that. What timing.”
We relaxed in our manicure thrones, which were about 10 feet off the ground, and finally retreated back to the ladies room to steam, sauna, shower and get ready.
Hell bent on looking like the thinnest, womanliest woman to ever exit the ReFresh Day Spa, I slipped into the gold stilettos and skinny jeans, with make-up and flouncy hair and a beaded, gold kimono.
I stood in the full length mirror and examined myself for any trace of obesity or manliness. “I will never be thin, Zoe. It’s that 25% Italian-ness.”
Zoe watched me in the mirror. “You look beautiful, Beth. You look beautiful and healthy and fit. And while you are mildly psychotic and incredibly neurotic and not waif-like, you are not fat.”
Zoe is my best friend not because she takes me to an afternoon of spa treatments for my birthday, spending on fortune on extravagant pampering, following that by stuffing me with booze and foreign food. Zoe is my best friend because when I find myself in a fat person man robe being asked if my name is “Matthew,” she not only knows exactly how I feel, she knows exactly what to say…


Anonymous said...

I was laughing so hard, people in my office came by to see what was so funny. God, that's a great story. Beth, you are fabulous.

amy said...

I have never identified with you more than with this blog. You have perfectly captured the internal body image struggle of the American woman. Hilarious, brutally honest and well written.
Nice work and happy birthday.

Spots said...

Golly, thanks kids!

sfmike said...

That spa website is quite terrifying, and pricey, plus I noticed that you got the all-important lowercase, weird punctuation spelling wrong. It's not the "ReFresh Day Spa" but:

a day spa

Very, very funny entry and I'll never think of the phrase "man robe" in quite the same way.

Anonymous said...

You are a very beautiful and very funny woman. And I would guess that it's the fact that you've spent your life feeling a little on the outside that makes you so funny. We're with you. Finally, a voice!
The fact that you're so beautiful...just blame that on the 25% Italian-ness.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday Dear Bethina,
Happy Birthday to youuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu !!!!!!!

Happy Birthday, Bethina. You don't look a day over however old you are.
Love, Bosco

theo said...

Oh, 'Most' Beautiful Beth. Laughter is the only gut exercise I get. That was a deep tissue massage. Happy Birthday!

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