The Awkward Guide

In every situation in life, there's always a way to make a tit of yourself

The Awkward Guide To The Spa

First of all I should point out that I’ve never actually been to a spa. For some reason the thought of lying naked in an aromatic room while a stranger rubs oil into me or slathers some sort of burny acid-based material onto my face has always just seemed too awkward for anyone of my disposition to attempt.

So in the interests of full disclosure this one is mainly based on ill-advised jaunts into the sauna at the gym and making fun of a spa brochure. But here we go, some of the most ridiculous and awkward things that (I imagine) people experience at spas.

1. Massages – because, although they are super for knotty muscles, lying naked on a platform with your face pushed through a hole while someone you don’t know touches you quite a lot and you mainly concentrate on trying not to sweat too much, fart or make any embarrassing involuntary noises is somewhat less than restful.

2. Any treatment which claims to leave your skin feeling “cashmere soft”. Because I don’t know about you, but I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever looked at a goat and thought “you know what? I really wish my face felt just like that goat”. Maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m just a real kooky oddball (arguable) but ‘goatiness’ is not really an aspiration that I’ve ever had for my visage.

3. A “relaxing acid peel facial to resurface your skin”. Two things – call me strange but to my mind the words “relaxing”, “acid” and “peel” do not belong in the same sentence. Unless of course that sentence happens to be “an acid peel is surely the least relaxing experience you could possibly ever have”.

And also “resurface”? We’re talking about my face, not the A34 between Walsall and Cheswick Green, thank you very much. What exactly is this “resurfacing” going to involve? Will some chaps in high-vis jackets cordon off a section between lower jawbone and mid-cheek, leave it for a few days with apparently nothing happening, and then turn up next week with a vat full of tar and a steam roller? I think I’ll keep the potholes if it’s all the same, even though cyclists keep crashing into them and getting punctures.

4. A “welcoming foot ritual” – I assume this is some sort of massage but for all I know it could equally be a satanic foot-worshipping rite that at some point involves sacrificing a virgin and/or large mammal. While that does, frankly, sound like a bargain at fifty quid, it would probably cast a bit of a dampener on the wholesome glow you had just acquired from your nice relaxing having-your-skin-peeled-off-with-acid session.

Also I’d like to think that my feet are happy to pretty much follow me anywhere without having to be ceremonially welcomed – they’re good like that (well, some of the time anyway).

5. All manner of mud treatments – while covering yourself from head to toe in mud does undoubtedly sound like quite a lot of fun, you can’t help thinking that you could achieve much the same effect by simply slipping over in a puddle every once in a while. That, I have to say, is something that I do treat myself to on a fairly regular basis.

6. Hopi ear candles, which are usually described as soothing, even though there are surely few things less soothing than knowing that a column of fire and hot wax is steadily making its way towards your ear canal and hair line.

7. Last but by no stretch of the imagination least, unpleasantly hot rooms. I’m looking at you, saunas and steam rooms, you unnecessarily warm wooden boxes of social awkwardness. Whether it’s the one person who is flagrantly ignoring the “please wear your swim suit or at the very least a towel” rule, the pervasive smell of damp, or simply the knowledge that you have just decided to sit very close to some sweaty, almost naked people in what is essentially an airing cupboard – these rooms are bad news.

So although I may be passing up the chance to get cocooned in giant leaves, rubbed with plant extract or suspended in a sensory deprivation tank (i.e. a bath that they’ve added some salt and a lid to), I can’t see myself ever thinking that popping off for a day at the spa seems like a cracking thing to do.


The Awkward Guide accepts no responsibility for adverse reactions to the implementation of advice supplied herein. Side-effects can include: smug laughter, mild disdain, and temporary irritation.


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