“C’mon Amber, I need my lotions,” urged Felicia.
“I don’t have anything,” hissed Amber, as the two young women huddled around the door. “Heather took the keys to the supply closet home with her last night and she called in sick today.”
“What are we supposed to use for the clients? They’re expecting ‘Top Quality Care’,” said Felicia, mimicking the Essence Salon’s business slogan.
“I don’t know. Heather is the manager. We’re just the grunts.”
“My nine o’clock will be in at any minute and she’s order a full treatment. What are we going to use? We have no lotions, no moisturizers, no shampoos, no conditioners… nothing!”
Amber bit her lip. “I have an idea. You start them off with hot towels to buy some time. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
“Wait… Amber, where are you going?” called Felicia, but Heather was already out the door.
Felicia forced a grin and strolled back into the lobby where she spied Mrs. Connover, a regular. The middle-aged woman was glancing around, with an expression on her face that clearly said “I have arrived. You may serve me now.”
Felicia groaned inwardly. Rich, bored housewives were so difficult to please. She dared not reveal that anything was amiss. A single complaint from clientele could mean termination.
“Mrs. Connover, it’s so good to see you. Are you ready to begin?”
“Ugh, yes indeed. You have no idea how much I need a treatment today. I ran into Millicent Van Houten yesterday at the Club and she was showing off her new face lift. Of course, she went to Dr. Diego so the work was flawless…”
Felicia was only half listening to the pampered woman rattle on about how this other woman looked 15 years younger and thus the need for a body wrap and facial. She escorted her client to a treatment room and instructed her to undress. She prepped the hot towels and left the room.
As she waited, her foot tapped unconsciously. She kept glancing at the clock. There was no sign of Amber. Realizing she could wait no longer, she rapped on the door and entered.
Mrs. Connover’s large, pasty flesh covered the treatment table like a massive blob of bread dough laid out to rise. Felicia sometimes felt more like a baker than an esthetician.
“You’ll work your magic as always, right dear?” asked Mrs. Connover as Felicia approached.
“Of course, ma’am. We’ll make Mrs. Van Houten so jealous her new face will turn three shades of red.” soothed Felicia. She’d learned the rich woman’s ego was more delicate than their skin.
“Ah, that’s why I come here,” sighed Mrs. Connover. “This place is the most expensive spa in town and I always get my money’s worth here. You know, I was telling my friend Helen the other day…”
Felicia turned down her internal volume and droned out the chitchat from the woman on the table. Her stomach began to knot. Amber had yet to appear and Felicia had no idea how she could fake a full treatment without her accoutrements. Still, she knew she could buy herself a few more minutes by applying the hot towels to Mrs. Connover’s face. She hoped it would be enough for Amber to return from… where ever. Plus it had the added benefit of silencing her chatty client.
“There now, how does that feel? Is it too warm?” she asked.
“Mmrr… no, mits fone,” came the muffled reply from the table.
Felicia quietly opened the door and peaked out. As she did, she caught the chime of the front door. She quickly stepped out of the room and rushed down the hall. Amber had one of their large carts loaded with covered plates and bowls and bottles.
“What’s all this?” she asked.
Amber grabbed the handle of one of the plate covers and whisked it up. Underneath were mounds of sliced cucumbers and orange tinted melons.
Felicia felt her face flush.
“You went to get breakfast? Are you kidding?” she hissed.
“What? No, silly. This…” she gestured with a flourish of her hand, “Is our product for today.”
“How…” began Felicia, but Amber interrupted her.
“Most of our creams and lotions contain ‘extracts’ of these food items anyway. We’ll just bypass the middleman and go straight to the source. You just have to sell the idea.”
Amber grinned, clearly pleased with her ingenuity. Felicia stared down at the large fruit and veggie cart with a dubious eye.
“Where did you get all this?” she asked.
“The buffet, three doors down.” grinned Amber.
“Ok, ok, I’ll try anything.” said Felicia, wheeling the cart down the hall.
Entering the room, she placed the cart next to the table where Mrs. Connover lay naked with her face ensconced in a damp and rapidly cooling towel.
Gently removing the cloth, Felicia forced her best “Everything is Wonderful” smile.
“Are we ready for your wrap?” she asked through her smile.
“Wrap away, dear!” chuckled the plump woman.
Felicia began searching through the assorted foodstuff Amber had confiscated from the salad bar. When she saw the pile of spinach, a breath of relief escaped her lungs. Snatching handfuls, she began to prepare the “seaweed” wrap that was the first order of business. She hoped the self-indulgent woman lying next to her wouldn’t notice that she wasn’t using their normal product.
“That looks different.” commented Mrs. Connover. “What is it? It almost looks like…”
“Spinach, yes. In fact, it’s a very rare type of seaweed from… the Mediterranean called ‘spinach seaweed’.” Felicia lied. “It’s rich in minerals and vitamins.”
“Is it new?” asked the older woman.
“It’s the hottest thing in Europe right now,” Felicia said, embellishing even more. “We just got it in today. In fact, you’ll be the very first of our clients to receive this exotic treatment.”
“Oh, marvelous!” exclaimed Mrs. Connover.
Felicia scanned the cart. She spied a bottle of viscous fluid. Opening it she turned away from Mrs. Connover and dipped her finger in, wetting the tip. Bringing her finger to her mouth, she tasted it. Caesar salad dressing. Perfect!
“We’ll also be using a special proprietary blend of herbal oils infused with egg protein. This will help tighten the skin and give it a youthful glow.”
The lies were flowing easily now.
“That’s exactly what I need,” Mrs. Connover replied. She looked up at Felicia with a warm smile.
“You do take such good care of me, my dear.”
“Nothing but the best for you, ma’am.” Felicia smiled.
After the doughy woman was securely packaged in fresh salad, Felicia proceeded with the facial. She gently placed two cucumber slices on her clients eyelids and then grabbed a handful of melon and squished it into a creamy pulp. She began massaging the melon pulp into the woman’s cheeks, all the while extolling the virtue of “melon extract” as one of natures best methods of hydrating and rejuvenating the skin.
“I love the fragrance they’ve added,” commented Mrs. Connover. “It’s got a nice fruity smell.”
When the treatment was over and her client had been cleaned of all traces of vegetation, Felicia waited patiently as Mrs. Connover inspected herself in the mirror.
“Oh my,” she exclaimed. “I look ten years younger. Millicent is going to hate me!” she giggled.
Felicia and Amber had to make four separate trips back to the buffet that day but each client left happier than the last.
When their boss Heather returned to work the next day, she asked if the girls had experienced any difficulty while she was away.
Amber glanced at Felicia coyly.
“Nope, everything was great,” she replied.
A few days later, while working on Mrs. Harrington’s nails, Felicia heard a knock on the door to the treatment room. Heather popped her head in.
“Hey, sorry to bother you, but I’ve got a Mrs. Van Houten out in the lobby and she’s insisting that we give her the… um… European spinach seaweed wrap. Do you have any idea what she’s talking about?”
Felicia grinned. She made a note to ask the buffet manager who supplied his produce. She was pretty sure they were going to need regular shipments from now on.