Seven Dollar Facial

“I should have known better. I should have walked out. Shall I get up and leave?”

The thoughts buzzed around in my head. What was I doing here? Staring up at the ceiling, I hoped the spiders were too busy spinning their intricate nets to attack me. And were the sheets really clean? Whose bed was this anyway?

It had seemed like a good idea. In Singkawan, Kalimantan, on a day so hot the tarmac burned through my sandals, I would have done anything for some shade. Cowering in an air-conditioned ATM booth was only an option for a minute until the security guard started getting suspicious. The restaurants were either closed or outside on the street. We had three hours to kill until the shared taxi would leave back to Pontianak and nothing to do. When we passed a beauty salon, I thought that having a facial while cooling off under their fans would be a great solution.

If my brain had been less over-heated, I would have noticed that there were no other customers in the salon. I would have wondered what cosmetic training these young girls had, whose faces were powdered an unnatural white. I would have probably hesitated before climbing up the rickety stairs to what looked like a teenage girl’s bedroom with vividly patterned sheets. And definitely I should have left when I saw the dirty dishrag the beautician lifted to my face, to wipe it “clean” from sweat and grime.

I didn’t. I closed my eyes and tried to avoid thinking about the critters above me, and the possible bedbugs beneath me. The adolescent smeared my face with a exfoliating crème. Then she scrubbed in circles round and round, lightly touching my forehead, nose and chin, but mostly focusing on my cheeks until I thought the skin would come off. By then I had realized this girl did not have a clue what she was doing. Cleaning my face once again with the smelly rag, she continued distractedly massaging my temples and cheeks until they hurt. After a few minutes of a soothing gel, my face was “washed” again, and the youngster proceeded to smear on a facial mask.

Heaven. At least now she would leave me alone until the mask dried. I dozed off. The girl went downstairs. Only a few moments later she came back with a friend. Completely ignoring me, they giggled, gossiped and sang along to a Justin Bieber CD in Indonesian English. I was in a perpetual hell. The teenagers’ voices grew louder as they wailed off key to something that sounded like: Ohh wooaah Ohh wooaah Ohh wooaah, you aah you love meeee, I eeh you maaaa.”

The removal of the mask hurt as bad as if they were ripping off my skin. I winced, but said nothing. Soon it would be all over and I could walk away. I bit my lip and endured the pain. My poor skin. Would I look like I had washed my face with sandpaper? Would it break out in a thousand pimples? Could I even walk outside for the next few weeks?

“How was it?” asked Eduardo when I finally came downstairs. “Interesting,” was all I could say. It had been a fascinating experience, for sure. And well worth the seven dollars. Because the next day, my skin looked absolutely fantastic.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lynn
    Mar 29, 2013 @ 18:55:32

    I thought you were going to leave, we the readers, hanging. Glad there was a happy out come


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