Once a year I make my annual pilgrimage to the salon.
It’s not that I don’t like the salon – I just don’t see the point. I work from home. No one sees me. It’s a funny thing working from home. You know how when you work in an office you have to get up every morning, put on a pretty face, fix your hair and wear matching clothes? You go to work and then spend the rest of the day looking in the mirror in the bathroom like I went to work looking like this? You may frequently evaluate and worry about how you look, how the weather will affect your hair and what you will wear tomorrow.
When you work from home you really take the mirror completely out of the equation. Or if you look you think to yourself – I look like crap but who cares. It’s actually quite freeing. Don’t walk by the mirror for the rest of the day – problem solved. Your wardrobe becomes pajama bottoms and a cami with a built in bra. A choice you made carefully because putting on a bra requires an extra step in the morning and more laundry. You think to yourself – I need to go shopping for work clothes which is really code for going to Old Navy to pick up more pajama bottoms because the elastic wore out.
All of this sounds casual and dreamcometrue until you realize that you work from home, you talk to your dog and you haven’t left the house for days. Not only that but you get really comfortable looking really sloppy. In fact, you get so comfortable looking that way that you find yourself in the grocery store in pajamas (how many times has Chris asked you are going to the store dressed like that?). You get really comfortable with walking around with wet hair or how about bed head. You get really comfortable with the idea of not showering at all.
Once a year, then, I get the itch to clean myself up. I started this ritual in 2006 after my first Ironman. You spend an entire summer training for Ironman, then do the race and you look wrecked. I went for a complete overhaul, consider it like a 50,000 mile check up – we’re talking hair cut, manicure, pedicure and make up application. I did another overhaul in 2007. And then again in 2008. Here we are in 2009. It is time. Time to get pretty. I’ve been Ragbraied and otherwise violated by too much training for triathlon. So I made an appointment with Val.
Val did my make up for my wedding and every year since then. She always remembers me, always tells me I look great (lie) and always knows that I do athletics. I give her credit for that. Last year Val had this thing where she touched me every time she made a point and this year I noticed that her eyes widened when she wanted to get her point across.
At least she wasn’t touching me.
I bring along what I still have in make up. I pull out a few things of eye shadow, blush and then Val scolds me. You have not been using your sunscreen. No, Val, really I do every day. The thing is that this sunscreen is for wearing under make up. And in the last year I have worn make up so few times that I have barely made a dent in this tube here. Val tells me to get busy with making myself up. That SPF only lasts 2 years.
I like Val, she’s pretty, she has good make up and she works with me. I don’t want to look like a clown and she respects that. Val always starts with some fancy skin care that costs way too much and takes too much time. But I play along. After all, it’s all free today. She can peel me, mask me and moisturize me for the next hour.
Today Val tells me she will be using a product made by a woman who works directly with stars such as Will Ferrell and…I can’t remember the other names. I was so taken aback by the idea of someone giving Will Ferrell a facial (sorry, but he will always be the guy in Old School to me) that I completely blanked out. So this woman came to the salon and gave Val a facial. Best facial she’s ever had. But you know what I’m thinking? If Val touches me and that woman who touched Will Ferrell touched Val does that then mean that I have touched Will Ferrell?
It was a product line with 3 steps. The first step was a cleanser. Then a toner. Then a peel. I don’t know what a peel is but when she pulled out a beaker and a paintbrush I first got a little scared about a chemistry experiment that could go very bad here. But then again I was getting $145 worth of facial care products for free. Paint my face. Experiment.
She begins painting and tells me that it will burn. Yeah right. I love when people tell athletes things that involve pain and expect us to cry at a pinprick like a normal person would but come on I have a high pain threshold in fact I have a high lactate threshold and HOLY CRAP! What the hell are you doing to my face! That burns like a bitch! I’m burning, like really on fire tingly burning when I ask Val what on earth is the active ingredient in this stuff?
And her reply: lactic acid.
Seriously? You are painting lactic acid on my face? Really? Wait...is this legal? Say, as long as we’re doing this, how about you paint some of that on my legs because the other night I was on the group ride and up to my eyeballs in lactic acid while having a problem turning it over fast enough. You think if I paint it directly on to my legs they’ll get better at that?
Val completes her masterpiece and I look in the mirror.
Oh my god.
I look like a freakin’ clown. My entire face is covered in white pasty paint.
But it gets better. I have to sit like this for 10 minutes.
Ok, no problem. A little iPhone, a little email, a little Facebook. I go to grab my bag when Val takes a seat on the window ledge and tells me she’ll wait with me. For 10 minutes.
Do you know how long 10 minutes really is?
Awkward silence. I should probably say something. Make small talk. I hate small talk. Ok, think, quick….what do you talk about with…what is she? I see a business card on her station. It says Certified Lash Technician. All right, what do you talk about with a Certified Lash Technician…..thinking….
So, it’s pretty hot outside today.
I suck at small talk.
Ten eternal minutes pass and then she painstakingly slowly wipes the paint off my face. And…my face is still there. Along with my dry skin, my blemishes and pores. You mean for $145 it doesn’t take all that away? I don’t need it then.
Val starts putting on make up next. But first she pulled out all of the colors, shades and things she needed to make me pretty. I’m telling you there were a lot of things. And one of them involved an on/off button. I don’t know what it was but I’ m thinking anything that requires an on/off button does NOT belong on my face.
She custom blends the foundation, applies all different colors of eye shadow and then picks up the on/off thing. What is that, I ask. It’s an eye lash curler.
This is a joke.
This is not a joke.
She curls my eye lashes.
One hour later, I am done. I look in the mirror and…I look freakin’ hot! Look out bitches, I’ve got a new face. And it will last….a whopping 3 hours until I go for a swim. Val tells me you look great. Yeah right. That’s like telling people at mile 18 of the Ironman marathon that they look great. Or "you’re almost there!"
The last thing to do is to choose the products I want to buy. This is my least favorite part because it means I have to somehow convince myself that I need 500 dollars worth of make up. I don’t. And I don’t even get close to that. I usually deselect anything that costs over $100, anything that requires a special brush, anything that requires a steady hand, anything that requires more than one step, anything that must be done every morning or night and anything that has to dry before I go any further. Pretty much that cancels out everything but the lipstick. And I really don’t like to wear lipstick.
I choose a few things and will admit that I bought the lactic acid for my face. I was thinking of drinking it but the bottle was not cheap. I’m not sure why I bought it other than it seemed cool to have a bottle of it. So if all of a sudden I get really fast know that I’ve made a dangerous cocktail of inhalers and lactic acid that I hit up every day. Right before I put on my clown face.
I hate clowns. They scare me.
I will confess that this entire trip was underwritten by my mother in law. She doesn’t know that yet but she did give me a generous gift for my birthday and her timing was impeccable. I suspected that the other night they were trying to give me the hint that it was time to visit the salon because the conversation went something like this:
(for the new folks around here: Popo is Chris’ grandma and Lola V is Chris’ mom and yes that name is worth an entirely separate blog some time)
Popo: You look different.
Lola V: What is it? (stares intently in my direction)
Popo: Something is different (waves her hands in front of her face)
Me: I don’t know (finding it unusual that I might just be getting a compliment out of Popo since up until a few years ago she was still trying to set Chris up with Ingrid, the girl from the Phillipines, even though he was already married to me)
Popo: Maybe it is your eyebrows.
Lola V: No, she fixed those a few years ago (again, I can do a whole separate blog about that conversation).
Popo: Maybe it is your hair.
Lola V: No, it is not her hair.
Me: Today I did dry it.
Popo: Maybe it is….
Lola V: What she is trying to tell you is that you look pretty.
Me: (laughing but thinking: Am I also any closer to being done with this marathon…?)
The worst part about having a clown face? You have to take it off before you go swimming. Know why? Because if you don’t you get black mascara lines running down your face and then everyone knows you were wearing make up. What – you don’t think my lashes perfectly curl like this or there is a natural “Sandscape” shimmer to my eyes? Come on. Have you never seen beautiful? It is right here on top of $25084989239842 worth of lactic acid and make up applications.
I'm going back to the salon next week. Lola V's generous make-her-pretty-NOW grant has afforded me a haircut too. If there's anything leftover I'm getting another bottle of that lactic acid. To do shots of it twice a day then show up at the group ride with my Tantastic lipstick (I am not even going to TOUCH that name) to distract the boys then drop them up Town Hall so I can be queen of the hill.
Which is a joke. Considering I can never hang on past Peplow. But it's always fun to try.