Because I'm Worth It...

I listened to a woman boring the ass off a waitress yesterday with an intimate list of things she didn’t eat, which concluded (triumphantly) with the declaration that she couldn’t eat raw salad. ‘Then why are you in a café?’ the waitress diplomatically resisted asking. I know the answer. She has clearly worn down her friends and enemies and the only people prepared to listen to her gastric musings are now paid members of the public. This is why you should always tip. Somewhere a waitress is listening to your friend discuss the dilemma you know can’t be solved because you can’t bear to. It’s national service.Hairdressers are the only people who enjoy a crisis as much as whoever’s having one. They’re more expensive of course, but then your hair looks great so it’s a quid pro quo. I love the hairdressers and all the perks that come with a cut and blow-dry these days: last month’s magazines, cheap prosecco, and stale pretzels. I still remember 90s hairdressers. The head massage had just been introduced. No one told me. It was a time of mixed emotions. I panicked that the stylist was behaving inappropriately but I couldn’t instruct him to stop because I was already in a grateful stupor.I still associate any kind of beauty treatment with indulgence, no matter how torturous the process or lame the results. These days the nail bar is in its ascendancy. It’s an American idea that I enjoy with a British sense of apology. The last time I had a manicure the beautician chopped my cuticles so vigorously my fingers bled. I didn’t complain of course; I just gritted my teeth. I haven’t given up.This morning I went somewhere new. I was greeted by the only Polish girl in the salon: she looked tired and fed up. Unfortunately her Vietnamese colleague was in high spirits and wouldn’t stop chatting. There was an alarming amount of dead skin on the towel. She plopped some cream on my left hand and plonked it into a dish of warm water. I couldn’t help but notice that lumps of cream were already floating in the misty liquid. ‘It’s dirty water. It’s definitely dirty water. What are you doing?’ is something I didn’t say out loud. I tried to meditate on the dead skin and nail clippings. She moved the bowl and plopped my right hand into the grey soup.Meanwhile, her colleague started singing along to Madonna’s Express Yourself on the radio. ‘Maybe we all know the words to Express Yourself’, I thought bitterly, ‘but we’re trying not to ruin the song for everyone else.’ I cast my mind back to happier experiences but to be honest these things never work out for me. Before my wedding I was gifted a massage that required three weeks of remedial treatment at the osteopath’s. Once I had my eyebrows done at Harvey Nichs. The girl that threaded them didn’t have a left hand. It was very impressive of course, that she could thread one handed and she was awfully nice, but then she offered me a head massage I felt obliged to agree to. We all know I love a head massage. She managed to apply the same pressure with her stump and her hand, yes, indeed she did. But the stump was coated in a nauseating paraffin-based lotion that I can still taste in my mouth three years later.Meanwhile, back in the salon, I have selected the red polish. Most of the team are downstairs on their break when the screaming starts. The Polish girl scowls, the Vietnamese girl smiles apologetically. Finally someone takes control, the screeching subsides and the saviour strides up the stairs. She is balancing a large piece of kitchen towel on the flat of one hand and shielding it with the other. “What is it?” I ask her. None of us are sure she should show me; after some hesitation she peels back the paper to reveal a fat, five-inch slug stretching languorously across her palm. “They’re coming in through the pipes,” she says, “all the time.”What an awful place. I’m booked back in for next week.