The Facial

by Marinka on December 15, 2008

You know how sometimes you’ll be watching an infomercial and suddenly you’ll be really grateful that you are not a paraplegic and can reach for the remote control and change the channel because although at first it was kind of fun to watch someone trying to sell you a pan that makes heart shaped pancakes, after ten minutes of that crap the bloom is off the rose and it has turned into a type of torture that not even the Bush administration would condone?

That’s what facials are like for me, except you can’t turn off the fucking infomercial and have to instead lay there with steam beating down on your face, while the esthetician tells you that you need things like lotions with vitamin A and C, Privage cream made with something that is used in organ transplants (I KNOW!) and some other shit that fights stress and the environment. I lay totally still and make “mmhm” noises that can signify anything from “ring me up!” to “shut the fuck up, please.” Every time that I have a facial, I forget that it is basically an infomercial for all their products, with some steam thrown in.

But first, I had some stress. Russian Olga led me into the facial room and I set my bag on the floor and she said, “No, no, no!” as though I had just taken out a machete, and she grabbed my purse from the floor and put it on the chair.
“They say that you should never put your purse on the floor, because that means that you won’t have money,” she admonished me. I didn’t bother asking who “they” were, I am well schooled in Russian superstitions. For the uninitiated and the unmedicated, basically anything that you routinely do in your daily life is rooted in some superstition that you will give you bad luck, no money and have you dead by dawn. I don’t know why none of these Russian geniuses realized that they didn’t have money because they were living in a fucking Communist country and not because their purse was on the floor, but whatever.

My purse secured on a chair, thereby guaranteeing my prosperity and Olga says, “Take off your top and I will give you a relaxing shoulder massage. You can also take off your jeans, whatever relaxes you most. Just lie down on the table, under the blankets.” And she leaves the room.

I don’t know about you, but what relaxes me most is people not telling me to take off my top. But I also obey authority, so I take off my sweater, and of course I’m now freezing, so I burrow under the blankets and pull them up to my chin in case they have a special on mummification or something. So Olga comes back and I make an oath to myself–I will not spend a penny beyond the gift certificate, I will not buy anything at all, and she inspects my skin and says, “Your skin is dry.  You need super moisture facial, it’s $20 extra” and I say, “ok!”  I am hoping that the extra moisturizing facial comes with the complimentary scrubbing off of the word “sucker” from my forehead.

Olga tells me that I will soon be so comfortable that I will be asleep.

Apparently, I look like one of those people who enjoys having conversations in my sleep, because as soon as my extra twenty dollar facial begins, Olga has some diagnostic questions for me. Like what do I use on my face? I feel good about my “Oil of Olay” answer because my dermatologist and Consumer Reports are behind it, but I have a feeling that Olga would react better if I told her that I have acid thrown on my face routinely.  She tells me that it’s a terrible choice and that I need to invest more in my skin.

The facial itself is very pleasant, but the hard sell continues, “You know, you have to take care of your skin,” Olga tells me.  “Because you only have one skin.”  This is why I could never sell anything to anyone.  Because as soon as I saw something like, “tell customer that she only has one skin,” I’d be immediately signing up for welfare.
* * *
Confession:  I can’t figure out how to end this post without making it epic length,  so I will do a quick and fake Q&A:
Q:  Did Russian Olga ever ask you if you spoke Russian?
A:  No, she did not, thankfully.
Q: Did you buy any of the products that she recommended?
A:  No.  She recommended two things that I absolutely needed for my one and only skin, each one cost over $120.  I said that I couldn’t do it in this economy.
Q: Did you tip?
A: I did!
Q:  Why didn’t you just tell her that you preferred not to be sales pitched during the facial?
A:  Because I was afraid that she would kill me.
Q:  Is there anyone in the whole world who is more wonderful than you are?
A:  Of course, many people!  Although they’re probably not as modest as I am.

One year ago ...

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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Ann's Rants December 15, 2008 at 10:20 pm

Oh shit, I love you. I’m so damn tired. You’ve even managed to make an exhausted woman laugh–not out loud–but SSS (shoulders shaking silently)


Lana December 15, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Very cute. Love your "Q&A" session!


Braja December 15, 2008 at 11:31 pm


And after the humiliation of writing that I’d better be first, or I’m going to slink away for a while…

I don’t see what’s wrong with heart shaped pancake makers. Great weapons for sneaking up behind Russian beauty salon workers after hours and…well, think of the impression you’d make…

Oh…did I write that out loud?


Kate Coveny Hood December 15, 2008 at 11:54 pm

This is too funny. I don’t mind facials (although I’ve never been asked to play 20 questions about my skincare regime). But I CAN’T STAND massages. The whole naked thing throws me into a panic. At least with the facial, you get to wear a little towel thing that covers you AND you stay covered by a blanket. Plus I just don’t like being manhandled. Having things rubbed into my face is tolerable – but I don’t like being felt up by strangers. At the very least, I DON’T find it relaxing.


Kirsten / Mama Ginger Tree December 16, 2008 at 12:10 am

Did your sweater have big annoying buttons on it? I can’t stand those either.

I also am not a fan of facials. I usually leave with bright red blotches on my face. Not a great look.


Robin December 16, 2008 at 2:47 am

You’re a stronger woman than I – I spent a fortune on products when I had a facial a few weeks ago, and on just two products at that! But, they were developed “with local Israeli plants and herbs, particularly selected for this harsh climate” blah blah blah hand over your credit card please.

On the bright side, I do like them and they smell great. I’m sure I’d like something at a fraction of the cost just as much, but hey, I’m paying for the fancy packaging and that oh so luxurious scent here, right?


Wendy December 16, 2008 at 3:47 am

That seals it! I’m not scheduling that shiatsu session I’d been longing before, because this post sent me hurtling back to reality. Where the massage therapist is “partnering” with me for my health and “dialoguing” with my tissues for cleansing, etc., etc.

(This is according to the newsletter the wholistic center sent me. And I was tempted! Oh, how I was tempted!)

I think I understand the lure of good, old-fashioned whores–they don’t talk to you, right?


Renée aka Mekhismom December 16, 2008 at 4:33 am

You know I never quite looked at facials this way but you are totally right! I can say no to buying the extras but have no idea how to politely ask that the sales pitches cease and desist.


Cindy December 16, 2008 at 4:58 am

I love everything you write. I need my laugh in the am, and you sure fit the bill 🙂


musing December 16, 2008 at 5:28 am

I’ve never had a facial but I did just get my hair cut at some upscale salon and got the “no, no, no” treatment when I went to put my purse on the floor. I wonder if he was Russian?


Swistle December 16, 2008 at 5:28 am


Also: HA HA!


mo.stoneskin December 16, 2008 at 5:35 am

If you were only going to pay with the gift certificate then maybe you should have left the purse on the floor!


*Akilah Sakai* December 16, 2008 at 6:28 am

Non-Russian father-in-law says the exact same thing about my purse being on the floor.

And he says a lot of other stuff like if I eat spicy foods while preggers, it’ll sting the baby’s eyes….


OHmommy December 16, 2008 at 7:17 am

I still, to this day, can not leave shoes on top of tables.

Because I do not want an unhappy family.


Heather, Queen of Shake Shake December 16, 2008 at 7:39 am

I’m confused.

I thought we got like an entire NEW skin every 7 years?

I’m so confused by this conflicting scientific information that I now must go each other iced sugar cookie.


Heather December 16, 2008 at 8:35 am

I have only had one facial and I broke out for 3 weeks. Not sure what the massage has to do with a facial. Loved the fact that you still ended up buying the super moisture facial – don’t you hate your inner voice sometimes for not being a little louder?


Heinous December 16, 2008 at 8:49 am

So if you would have put your purse on the floor, you could have not tipped her?

Don’t go dispelling my illusions of how wonderful you are. My shrine requires a certain amount of faith. Work with me here.


JoeinVegas December 16, 2008 at 10:10 am

Did you get the ‘free’ shoulder massage? Did you take off your pants? (and what is up with that part of it, it was a facial, why do you need to take off your pants?)


Sophie, Inzaburbs December 16, 2008 at 11:04 am

My purse lives on the floor.

Now I finally understand the source of my cashflow woes.

Thank you Russian Olga, for clearing up that little mystery for me.


Sarinka December 16, 2008 at 11:39 am


I love it! I’m new to your blog, and I’m enjoying all your old posts, as well. I esp. like the tips for beautiful holiday hair’ hairlarious.
p.s. my ex is from slovakia and I spent much time there! Love eastern europe and its eccentricities 🙂


Kristine December 16, 2008 at 12:08 pm

I have only ever set foot in a spa one time. FOr a full body massage. It was weird and kind of hurt, and totally not worth the money to me. Oh and they bathed me with some kind of scrubby salt stuff, which was kind of even weirder. And what’s up with the extras – I hate that.


La Belette Rouge December 16, 2008 at 12:11 pm

Best line of the entire day:”You know how sometimes you’ll be watching an infomercial and suddenly you’ll be really grateful that you are not a paraplegic and can reach for the remote control and change the channel.” I have never had that thought before. But, from now on when ever I need to turn the channel I will think of that and be gad that I do not require a monkey to change the channels for me. Thanks for upping my things to be grateful for.


Ann's Rants December 16, 2008 at 2:05 pm

I gave you a badge, just to annoy you. Come and pick it up, or just enjoy a very transient moment of feeling adored. Sorry, its over. Awaiting your next brilliant post.


adlibby December 16, 2008 at 2:52 pm

Hey! I’m your 100th follower, and I brought you a margarita! I found you from Ann’s Rants and think you are fabu as well! Cheers!


MommyTime December 16, 2008 at 3:14 pm

I am totally convinced that Olga works at my local Upsell Facials too, except that she uses the name Megan and a midwestern accent, as the most appealing combination for the Michigan clientele. Otherwise, our conversation was exactly the same as yours, right down to the condescending snort over the Oil of Olay, as well as the comment, “well, that’s a good economical product when you’re young, but you should be using something made for grown-ups on your face now.” Oh, yes, she did.

I keep trying to sell on eBay my unopened, overpriced “started kit” of high end face products that I totally regret buying but am too mortified to return to the store, but apparently shoppers on eBay are too smart to be suckered by the employees at Upsell Facial, and they want nothing to do with my set, even at its low-low “just relieve my embarrassment” price.

Which only goes to prove that gift certificates for facials are an excellent present for enemies as well as friends. If you want your enemies broke, that is.


Charmaine December 16, 2008 at 5:08 pm

I don’t know how you do it. Every single day you do it.

Maybe I could do it to, if I left the house occassionally. groan.


Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy December 16, 2008 at 5:58 pm

now I know why I am broke, I am always leaving my purse on the floor!

Now you tell me!


derfina December 16, 2008 at 6:32 pm

Here via Braja. She sure does know how to pick additions to my blogroll!


kia (good enough mama) December 16, 2008 at 7:40 pm

I’m probably not MORE wonderful than you are, but I’m pretty sure I’m equally wonderful. This is stated from a completely modest standpoint, of course…

Another thing we have in common? I too have “sucker” on my forehead. It won’t. wash. off.


Tooj December 16, 2008 at 8:32 pm

Now THAT is some self-control. Good work.
I photo tagged you on my blog. Feel free to participate if you find time. 🙂 Between facials and running from the scary Russian facial lady, that is.


katy (aka funny girl) December 17, 2008 at 7:58 am

Seriously ‘Rinka (do you mind if I call you ‘Rinka for short?) I am effing ADDICTED to your blog.


Amy@Bitchin'WivesClub December 17, 2008 at 8:31 am

My Russian SIL, upon forgetting what she was going to say or others doing same, always says “If you forgot it, then it must’ve been a lie!” I haven’t heard the purse one yet.

Good for you for not falling for the hard sell. (Or for those obnoxious little sweaters with big buttons!)


Z December 18, 2008 at 7:00 am

Great ending to the story 🙂


andrea December 18, 2008 at 2:09 pm

All I ever got in “suspicions” was from my EX-husband: “Don’t leave new shoes on the table/counter/couch…or”, yeah I never listened to the bastard long enough to get the rest of it. Sorry, that could have been important. Maybe it was something about a long marriage;)


Pseudonymous High School Teacher December 18, 2008 at 8:39 pm

Maybe you should go for the massage next time.

I know a great facialist in Hana Maui. Just saying.


KJJ December 20, 2008 at 1:08 am

Days late, I know. But this post just makes me appreciate my facial specialist more.

The first time I got a facial, I got it in France and it was an informercial. And I did buy the Shiseido moisturizer. Was it better than my Cetaphil moisturizer? No.

But a few months ago, I was stressed and decided to do the cheapest spa thing I could find that wasn’t a manicure or pedicure. It was a facial and it was fabulous. So relaxing. She doesn’t say a word during and then after she might recommend something new for me to try but you can tell she’s uncomfortable. “I just wanted to let you know that we have a new organic facial. You could try that next time. Or not.”

I’m good at doing the “not” bit.

JoeInVegas I don’t know why you had to take off your pants but my facial ends up being more like a full body massage. Legs, Arms, hands, feet, shoulder and scalp all get a rubdown.


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