I arrived early for my pedicure and wax at Bliss Spa atop the W Atlanta-Downtown with the intention of sipping champagne by the pool, but it took time to change into my robe and slippers in the locker room.
Dayl, a staff member, checked on me, ready to fulfill any requests. I hadn’t quite relaxed, but once I entered the lounge area, the energy of the day changed. Champagne awaited me, in a plastic cup for the pool and a champagne flute for the lounge area. I decided to stay inside and save swim time for after my services.
I munched on cheese, crackers and olives with the champagne, read the latest issues of The Atlantan, and relaxed as I nibbled brownie bites.
I didn’t know what to expect, and then in walked Jess, a thin woman from New York. We began to talk, and I found out Jess and her friend were getting pampered for a wedding. We were all in good spirits, and before I knew it we were requesting more champagne.
About 10 minutes later a regular to Bliss Spa walked into the lounge and swiftly left after getting an earful of our conversation. Nykeva walked in to tell me it was time for my wax.
“Bye, girl,” Jess said as I walked out.
“I’ll see you later,” I replied.
I walked into the wax room and asked, “Did he tell you?” referring to Joey Detenber, the spa director, whom I spoke with over the phone.
I explained my dilemma and asked whether she usually provided the service I needed because it wasn’t on the menu.
“Sure,” she said. “I have the same problem too.”
I lay down on the table and immediately relaxed. We talked about everything under the sun. Then it hit me: “I’m so loud.”
“It’s OK,” she said. “All my clients are loud.”
I tensed as she moved on to my problem area.
“Is it going to hurt?” I asked.
“No. Not at all.”
My body tightened as I felt the warm wax spread over my skin and the strips being placed on top. She ripped them off, and it didn’t hurt. The entire time I put off a wax treatment out of fear of pain, but there was no pain. We kept talking as she polished me off, making sure she got all my fuzz and stubborn hairs, even putting a hot towel on my face.
“Thank you,” I said as I climbed off the table.
I walked into the lounge area and was greeted by Jess, her friend and two more women.
“This is Patrice,” Jess said to everyone
“Hi,” I said holding my glass of champagne.
I sat down as the women talked about how much fun they were having and the services they received. The two women were there with their sister, celebrating the birth of their niece. We were all celebrating. I was celebrating a transformation and return from Israel.
“What did you get, Patrice?”
“Oh, I just got my lips waxed and my toes waxed.”
“Toes?” everyone said with crazy looks on their faces, laughing.
“Yes, y’all. … OK, I have hair on my toes,” I said.
They began to look at their well-manicured feet, and no one had hair. I explained that I come from a family of hairy women, and hair in strange places like arms and toes isn’t abnormal or something we remove.
I wasn’t made aware of my crime against the gods of vanity until about a year ago when I was getting a pedicure and the woman looked at me in disgust and said, “You need to get that waxed.”
I was shocked and embarrassed. I looked at my toes for a year, wondering whether she was right. Finally, I decided to take the plunge. Not only did my toes look different, but I felt a little less ethnic. I had assimilated into a world of beauty standards that made my body and toes more acceptable under the status quo.
We laughed at my story, then their sister walked in like she was floating on Cloud 9.
“Look at you, walking all different,” one of her sisters said.
“What’d you get?” I asked, wondering whether I could experience whatever had her walking on air.
“A massage,” she said.
Evidently, the massages at Bliss are incredible. I heard it from three people while I was there.
Then her masseuse walked in, wearing a big smile and dreadlocks.
“She talked about me so bad, y’all,” the woman floating on Cloud 9 said. “I was tense.”
Now something magic happens when black women get together in an environment of tranquility like the kitchen during the holidays, the salon or the spa. There is an excitement when a transcendent moment occurs without men or children around. In that rare moment our voices rise in a melodic harmony of “Girl, I know,” “I need that too” and “Did you get some more champagne?”
The door opened, and it was Joey.
“Shhh,” he said, looking at us assembled in the lounge.
“Oh, Lord, now this is a mess,” he said pointing to Jess and me.
Of course, this made us laugh even more.
“We get shhed wherever we go,” Jess’ friend said.
I immediately wondered if we were going to leave with a wine train story about controversial black woman loudness, but Joey left, and we continued to laugh up a storm.
“Now this is some black girl magic,” Jess said.
“Yes, it is,” I agreed.
“You should call your piece ‘Black Girl Spa Day.’ ”
Everyone agreed that I should write about our black girl happiness at the spa, and I thought it would be a great idea. Soon I was ushered to my Heel-leluja pedicure because my feet took a beating in Israel.
“Get red polish, girl,” Jess called out. “And come to the pool after you’re done.”
“OK. Imma get jungle red,” I yelled back.
I was greeted by Corinna, another black woman with an amazing smile and spirit. She babied my feet as we talked about our goals and the journey G-d put us on. We found out our birthdays are 10 days apart. We high-fived at being the same zodiac sign and talked as she polished my toes red. The three sisters walked out as I was finishing up.
“Bye, Patrice. We’ll look for your write-up,” they said.
“Bye, it was nice meeting you,” I said.
“See, girl, you made friends,” Corinna said.
Well, I guess I did.
I left Corinna’s station and went for a swim. Jess ordered a bottle of red wine, and we chatted with two guys by the pool. I spent most of the time swimming because I wanted to take advantage of the W Atlanta-Downtown rooftop. The view is amazing, and for one of the first times in my life I was in the moment.
I left the pool after hugging everyone and made my way to the glass-tiled steam room in the shower area. I sat there with my thoughts of Israel and now this. I thought about what G-d wanted from me and what to do with all these blessings.
I washed my hair with the lemongrass and sage shampoo provided and relaxed in the locker room.
“This is just the beginning for you, Patrice,” Dayl said as she shared her seasoned wisdom. “You know, I didn’t make the connection between health and wellness and things like the spa until later. I thought it was for other people or a frill.”
We talked more, and I knew G-d sent her in there to speak to me. Her kind words touched me. When I left, she sent me home with plenty of well wishes and free samples.
45 Ivan Allen Jr. Blvd., downtown