I’m not a big fan of spa treatments. It’s all a bit too touchy-feely for me. A decent pedicure is pretty much my limit. Typically, I will only get a spa treatment if I am on holiday or overwhelmed by guilt. The main reason being that unnecessary expenses can always be justified with the tag ‘I’m on holiday’ and also because most touristy places have spas on every corner, advertising their life changing treatments and you get sucked in by it all after awhile. Living in a country which is effectively one big tourist resort messes with my head a bit. As for the guilt, I will get to that shortly.
I visit a spa here for one reason and one reason only: the essential bikini wax. It’s the downside of living by the sea – you need to be bikini ready everyday. Imagine being a porn star and needing to be sex ready all the time, the mind boggles. Finding someone who would wax properly over here was a struggle and a situation that I have had to compromise on. There were trial and error attempts with those who wouldn’t take enough off and those who had no sense of symmetry. Admit it – there is nothing worse or more infuriating than a wonky wax. I finally settled on a woman who, quite valiantly, simply takes the lot off. Like I said, a compromise situation.
But this is where the guilt comes in. Being a beautician is pretty low on my list of jobs I could tolerate doing, but if that is what you enjoy, I commend you. However, I always think that waxing must be the job that every beautician hates the most. I presume they enjoy the rest of it, but they must surely release a deep sigh when they look down their list of appointments and see a wax job in there. Whenever you go for a wax, beauticians always try to up-sell. They constantly tell you about all the other pointless crap they do which is going to change your life and make you feel rejuvenated and born again. So there comes a point when I feel so overwhelmed by guilt that this poor women, month in and month out, waxes my VJ, that I say ‘yes’ and agree to have one of her ‘treatments’. I’m not even Catholic. I shouldn’t give in to guilt, but damn it, every time I fall for it…….and every time I regret it, almost instantaneously.
Last week, in a moment of weakness, I agreed to a massage. It is my opinion that the only person who should massage me is a lover. I really don’t want anyone else to touch me anymore than is absolutely necessary. But, like I said, the guilt makes me commit to stupid things. On this occasion, I convinced myself that at the very least, the oil would smell nice and my back did need some moisturiser, so I really had nothing to lose.
From the first minute, I started to wonder how long it would last – when would it end? I soon realised that I was in for the long haul. She did each leg, she did each arm, she did my back, she did my feet, she did my hands. She kept making happy comments and asking me to confirm how great it was. I was counting seconds, I was counting sheep, I was making lists, anything to take my mind of this horrible experience. I hate being touched. How had I walked into this situation with open eyes? Am I really that thick? Why did I agree to this? She’s a beautician, waxing is her job, you don’t need to punish yourself, she chose her career, maybe she even likes waxing? To make matters worse, the oil did not smell good. It was a familiar smell, but one I couldn’t place. She then poured it in my hair, with the belated question, “Oil in your hair? It’s ok?”. I’m English, so out of my mouth spilled forth the words, “Sure, it’s ok, it’s great!” while inside, I was screaming for the experience to end and fighting the urge to bolt. With the oil now running down my forehead, I could finally place the smell. It smelled like barbecued beef, ergo, I now smelled like barbecued beef. Would this never end?
Finally she stopped and I was free to go. She was all smiles and totally delighted with herself. I was struggling to maintain my fake smile.
“I use special Ayurvedic Indian massage oil, you like?”
“I loved it, it was great!” I replied, while inwardly contemplating the fact that as cows are sacred in Hindu culture, whether this was the reason to have a massage oil that was eau de vache?
“Leave it on for 1 hour and then have a cool shower and you will feel great.”
I never discovered if I would feel great. Coated in beef drippings, I drove home as fast as possible and dove into a steaming hot shower and scrubbed and soaped up until the entire experience was a distant memory, to all but my bank balance.
6 months of guilt-free waxing now lie ahead before my next sensational spa treatment. Hot stones or exfoliating scrub?
You hear a lot of crazy stories living in the islands. About eight or nine years ago, while living in the Bahamas, I once heard about the local supply store being overrun by a herd of hogs. Supposedly, a local resident had let them loose. After they ran in (right through the front door, of course), customers climbed shelves and sought refuge on counters, allowing the animals to destroy every last can of creamed corn and jalapeño Spam in the place. We’re talking complete and total destruction brought to pass by an enraged herd while customers feared for their lives. I have no idea why the hogs were enraged. It’s just how the story went. When I expressed my slight disbelief in the truth of the story (because I knew of no one in the area who actually raised pigs), I was told that the former pig woman had washed her hands of pork after that unfortunate episode and was now raising pit bulls. Back then, new to island ways, I still had my doubts. But now, after living over a decade on these crazy little rocks, I would not be surprised at all by that story.
All the wild tales that float around really increase your gullibility factor. Not because you’re easy to fool, but when you find out things like your friendly neighbor who often brings over fresh-baked cookies and grouper loaf once tried to poison his entire 20+ man fishing crew with rat poison, you start to believe anything. This was the same guy that showed us the rooster he’d taught to sit on his shoulder and smoke a cigarette (and likely other substances). This story was incredible and mind-blowing. But in fact, I was told that story not because it was incredible or because I was being warned he was a psychopath, it was just a friend simply warning me to perhaps be careful about the grouper loaf offerings. He was still a generally well-accepted member of the community. Because everyone makes a mistake every now and then, right? Hence my capacity for island crazy is pretty high.
A few years back, my Facebook feed blew up one afternoon with local island friends bidding everyone to beware of a tiger, loose on the northside of St Thomas. Some friends were asking if anyone had seen it, while others were letting the general Facebook world know that we shouldn’t expect them to leave their homes until the creature was caught. And after the number that years of island-crazy has done to my head, my first thought wasn’t, “That’s ridiculous.”, it was, “How did a tiger get to St Thomas?” There are no zoos here and tigers certainly aren’t native… I’m not saying I 100% believed there was a tiger on the loose, I’m just saying I didn’t not believe it. My theory was that someone may have snuck it here as a cub and raised it in one of the more remote areas of the island. It might sound like a wild thing to do, but I know people of that level of insanity and they exist in higher concentrations in the islands (my theory is that the real world population won’t tolerate them, so they all migrate South).
In the end, all the hubbub was shown to arise from a misprinted ad in the local newspaper. Someone was looking for their lost cat. It had stripes like a tiger. Or they called it a tiger cat. I can’t remember. But something along the lines of “lost tiger” was what got printed in the paper (because when you lose your tiger, the best way to have it returned to you is to list it in the Classifieds). That was enough to cause 24 hours of Facebook panic and a follow-up article in the newspaper, all on the tiger worry. Like I said, when you’ve lived here long enough, you’re a lot more likely to believe stuff.
And now I bet you think I’m done talking about tigers, don’t you? Because how much tiger drama can one island girl have? More than that, let me assure you. Just last week, my Facebook feed was again suddenly overrun with tiger madness. Not from St Thomas friends this time, but from my Bahamian friends. Except this time, I wasn’t buying it. There was no way there was a tiger on that tiny island. I learned my tiger lesson once – I wasn’t falling for that one again. Yet this time, people were talking about multiple tiger sightings. That’s how their tiger madness began. Not with a misprinted newspaper ad, but with people actually seeing a tiger wandering around in the bush. Then friends from other Bahamian islands started posting. Then an online news publication, which even went so far as to include a generic picture of an angry tiger (for any online news readers who had no idea what a tiger looks like, I’m assuming). This time, the time I thought I had learned my lesson, there turned out to be an actual tiger on the loose. Sort of.
In the end, it was a Siberian-something or other. It had tiger-ish stripes on parts of its body and leopard-ish spots on others. And it wasn’t as big as a tiger. It seemed to have come off of one of the many yachts that pass by the island and anchor for a while. Some say it swam to shore. Some say the owners brought it to shore to give it some exercise. Either way, we’ll never know. When the owners discovered it was missing, they yachted themselves right out of the area, so as not to get caught. My guess is that they’re now sipping on Cristal and riding their illegal ostrich around the lido deck somewhere in the Turks and Caicos, talking about what a close call that was.
And so my beloved little Bahamian island now has an exotic resident. The police were out stomping around in the bush for awhile trying to locate it, but from what I hear, that didn’t turn up anything. The general public seems to assume it has no desire to rip their face off the same way a tiger might, although I doubt they’ll be running around in the bush at night after heavy rains trying to catch crab for dinner anytime soon. And I don’t feel so bad about believing that there may have actually been a tiger the first time around. Because these stories aren’t crazy. In most cases they’re actually somewhat, if not completely, true. So if you’re going to protect yourself from roaming tigers, rat-poisoned grouper loaf, and enraged hogs, you have to be ready to believe pretty much everything. Otherwise you can expect to pay the unfortunate island consequences.