06 June 2013


A little over a week ago, I had my first facial. (Behave.) It lasted about forty-five minutes. During the procedure I swore to myself to never do it again.

Why? Because it hurt horribly. Here’s what I now know about blackhead extraction: the reward is not worth the pain. There were tears in my eyes. My masseuse—is that what one calls a woman who does facials: a masseuse?—my masseuse broke out this little bugger—a sharp instrument, made of steel, that resembles something a dentist would use to probe cavities—which she used to squish and squeeze the impurities out of my face. My god, did she squish and squeeze. I must have been so impure. Afterwards she poked me to show the strip on which she proudly collected all the blackheads that had been extracted from my pores. She thought it was funny and had a rather grand time showing the rest of her colleagues. I went along with the joke and pretended not to be deeply humiliated.

In general the facial was much more clinical than I’d thought. I went in thinking that a salad platter would be made out of my face—that people would furnish it with vegetables, fruits, colorful sauces. Nothing this glamorous happened, of course. Shows you how much I know!

Good thing I went with my friend K, whose presence helped me take this traumatic experience in stride. We were walking around Jungceylon mall in Patong, on Phuket’s west coast, when we came across this Japanese beauty salon, which had a tarpaulin banner out front for a new promo: facials for 300 baht. Apparently this was a hit. People, mostly tourists, were coming in and out. “Want to go in?” K asked. I said no, but that I’d wait for him if he wanted to. “If I’m going in,” he said, “you’re coming with me.” Just then, a holidaying couple that I recognized as regulars at the beach came out and saw us. Immediately they shared their verdict: the other one was much better. What other one? They pointed to another Japanese beauty salon with facials that started at 350 baht. “We’ve tried both. This one just now wasn’t so good. Tsch├╝ss und bis bald!”

So that’s how it happened. It was not planned. It was about doing something for the first time, on impulse, without being certain of the consequences. “Spontanically,” as K would say in his German English. (He hadn’t had a facial, either.) Thus spontanically did we go inside the 350-baht salon, giggling like the first-timers that we were, making jokes about each other’s faces. “You’d have to scrape that thing with a rock,” he instructed my masseuse. “Please make him look ten years younger,” I said to his. I was shaking with laughter (the soft, delicate hands of my masseuse also happened to tickle) and had to pinch myself to hold it in—until, that is, the blackhead extraction part, in which I pinched myself simply to endure the pain. I wonder how other people do it without cracking; I wonder how they do it without crying. 

A few days later, K and I were back at Jungceylon with tickets to the new Star Trek movie. “We still have time, you know,” I half-joked. I may or may not have been talking about facials, but in any event he said no, and I was relieved to hear it. I thought he wanted to have another go but I guess I was wrong. He must have felt as I did. Next time would not be as much fun and could hurt just the same.