The knead to relax.

My relationship with all forms of beauty therapy is fraught at best. In the interest of background research please now refer to last years blog post, ‘The Spa Treatment’, for further insight into the vagaries of salons… and Croatians.

For those of you privy to this particular diatribe – comic and tragic in equal measure – feel free to make a cup of tea while we wait for everyone else to catch up.

Really, we’ll wait for you. Oh come on, it’s easy. Just go to the back catalogue listed to the right of this article. Got it? Now, it’s the eighth one – in between ‘Holidays’ and ‘Turning of the Stone’; both riveting and cautionary posts that in many ways should be required reading for anyone looking to travel with a new partner. Seriously.

Off you go!

Welcome back and how much of a revelation was that? You will never look at your toenails the same way again.

Last week I found myself looking for something to kill the ineffable boredom I was experiencing on the Gold Coast before my escape flight home to significantly cooler (in every sense of the word) Melbourne.

The Gold Coast, for those of you who don’t leave your own country or watch travelogues, is a coastal city in the South East of Queensland – Australia’s redneck state.  It is characterized by gorgeous swathes of beach fringed with apartment blocks and skyscrapers and drunken louts who occasionally harass street performers.

I joined other wholesalers to pander to the 100 or so members of a large jewellery buying group gathered at Palazzo Versace – that overwrought Italianate resort hotel favoured by cashed up bogans.

palazzo versace

“Look darl, you can buy the bath robes.  We can knock off one and buy the other. I reckon that’s fair.”

These buying days are unequivocal failures and I have no idea why we keep attending them. I’m bored even talking about it.

The upshot of our inability to engender the slightest bit of retail interest was that we agreed to pack up a day early and get the hell out of Dodge.

My boss was able to change his flight – I was not.

I managed an hour or so of esplanade wandering until it became congested with joggers and I was nearly collected by a careening skateboarder.

The Cavill Avenue Mall offered no vengeance seeking buskers to amuse, so I went in search of a nail bar. Generally when I decide a manicure is in order, I am in a rush to be somewhere else and invariably bolt out the door before the varnish is completely dry. My $30 manicure resembles the artwork of a four year old with advanced fine motor skills before I have even left the carpark.

Not so this day. I had hours for a French manicure to dry uninterrupted to glossy perfection.

french polish

Wandering into a dark arcade I found Karysma’s beauty salon where I had the pleasure of meeting Kirraleigh, my teen nail technician.  Kirraleigh had a flawlessly burnished tan and hair the colour and texture of bleached driftwood.

The downside of a manicure is that unlike a facial, you can’t really close your eyes and pretend to be asleep. Sitting upright with your arms extended across the table you appear more than open to communication.


I wasn’t.

Kirraleigh was oblivious to my monosyllabic responses and maintained a steady stream of questions for the entire 90 minutes of nail ministering. Eventually I just let her answer for me.

Sitting at the airport several hours later I observed that the white tips of my French polished nails had developed the crazed appearance of excavated ceramic urns while the nail on my right index finger, having been filed to translucency, sheared off completely.

A day later spouse and I hit the day spa of a Yarra Valley resort we had booked for our anniversary (First year down, so far, so good). He had been a spa virgin when first we met and like a great many ‘real men’, shied away from anything to do with detoxifying masques and essential oils.

But bless him if he doesn’t just love them now. See what can be achieved in four years?

I found him sitting sheepishly in the waiting room wearing the one-size-fits-no-one towelling robe, all bare elbows and knees. Tripping on my scuffs I joined him to wait for our therapists.

Donna and Julie, having drawn straws to see who got the 6foot 2 hairy one (that’s not me…), eventually led us to our treatment room and instructed us to disrobe and put on disposable g-strings.

Despite our close proximity both therapists spoke to us individually, echoing each other’s exact phrases with a time delay of ten seconds. I imagine this is what life in the maximum security twilight home may eventually be like.

What I would give to be able to share the sight of my husband in his teeny paper g-string.

‘This can’t be right?” he observed checking himself in the mirror. Certainly there was very little left to the imagination.

For the next 30 minutes we were oiled and scrubbed like a couple of baked potatoes. The sound of sloughing skin cells and the occasional wince filled the room.

We were to spend the next half an hour soaking in a romantic spa bath.  Donna and Julie deposited a platter of chocolate dipped strawberries and honeycomb on the steps of the spa and discretely took their leave.

spa bath

Possibly as a result of the oil and salt crust covering my body like a channel swimmer, I failed to register the water temperature until well through the floating carpet of rose petals. Had Donna and Julie lingered outside the door they may well have misunderstood the ensuing gasps, pants and squeals for some waterborne sexual congress.

Instead, I had leapt up onto the candle covered edge and crouched Golum like as spouse frantically ran the cold tap into the brimming tub. Clearly the oil needed to boil off. Some twenty minutes later we managed to lower our respective haunches all the way in and could enjoy a waterlogged strawberry.

Faint from the heat, we eventually staggered out and spent the remaining five minutes picking rose petals off our beet red skin.

Donna and Julie returned for the relaxation massage and scalp treatment. The sounds of a native Australian bush CD filled the room as both women got to work on our lightly poached bodies.


A Wurundjeri woman told a story in her native tongue, I think it might have been about a bunyip with catarrh or maybe the destruction of a forest by chainsaw wielding loggers until I realized that joining the chorus of corellas, kookaburras and magpies, was my husbands violently vibrating uvula.

For the love of god, will one of you hit him!

Afterwards, as we sipped on our restorative herbal tea, he claimed to have no recollection of the actual massage. Seriously?  Donna could have just sprayed him with some lemon myrtle oil, chucked some rocks along his spine and left him to sleep instead of busting a gut kneading his somnambulant form for an hour.

massage man

Well that’s what I would have done.

About Learning the hard way

Jane is of the belief that her life's purpose may well be to serve as a warning to others. She is unsure as to why she speaks in the third person...
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7 Responses to The knead to relax.

  1. Jane says:

    Without question, you ARE my favourite writer. I’m always so happy to see a ‘Learning The Hard Way’ link in my inbox, and I’m never disappointed. Guffaws guaranteed.


  2. Learning the hard way says:

    You should absolutely join me, my erstwhile wordsmith compadre. Thank you for the encouragement – it is always timely.


  3. Anonymous says:

    You are hilarious… and have reminded me why I rarely book any form of spa treatment. I can paint my own nails, and a bottle Pinot relaxes me far more than any massage therapist ever has.
    Perhaps I too cannot ‘relex’ – ha!


  4. Klara says:

    You are hilarious… and have reminded me why I rarely book any form of spa treatment. I can paint my own nails, and a bottle Pinot relaxes me far more than any massage therapist ever has.
    Perhaps I too cannot ‘relex’ – ha!


    • Learning the hard way says:

      I know! I clearly have short term memory syndrome. They are just never as good as I think they’re going to be. Absolutely agree that a decent bottle of just about anything is far more relaxing. Clever girl being able to do your own nails – one hand is always mangled!


  5. geeloubee says:

    Sounds like both you and hubby had a good day at the spa! My husband closes his eyes for 5 minutes and he is asleep so with a massage he would have been snoring too! Men 🙂


    • Learning the hard way says:

      I should call my blog Unable to learn the hard way, right? Seriously, I must remember to book SEPARATE rooms next time! Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment 🙂


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