Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Spa party (or, Martha Stewart for a week)

Most of my time and intention last week went into organizing a spa party for E-girl. Like a production assistant, I went around to various stores and web sites looking for just the right props/tools/party favors: small spray bottles, candies, tiny nail polishes, bath sponges, emery boards, a red heart tray... etc.

I am not a Martha Stewart-type—and I normally loathe shopping—so this was not done without some inner struggle on my part. But it was her fervent birthday wish and I tried to do a good job of it. (I suppose some of that intention came from guilt, to make up for any past, pitiful party favor bags I'd filled with Dollar Store items such as non-bouncy balls, flimsy hair barrettes, and soon-headless dolls.)

As I continued on with it, I became more intent on doing it as perfectly as possible, even if all that planning and acquiring and cleaning kept me from writing. Sure I could think while driving from one store to the other, but those thoughts were unrecorded, unexplored. Much of it felt like lost time, though ultimately for a good cause.

I realize that some people would have found the whole event a creative outlet—acquiring, decorating, planning, as art forms in themselves. My Aunt Sadie was one of those people. She used to throw parties for my brother and me that involved the entire neighborhood. In one, the local doctor, bandana across his face, held up the station wagon/stage coach, while kids defended it with toy guns. The sets she made for those parties lingered in my grandmother's attic after she married at middle age and left for England.

The spa party was on a much smaller scale. I hired a local teenager to give foot massages. We set up foot spas in the kitchen and a card table topped with make-your-own foot soaks, sugar scrubs and scented water. I polished toenails, sprayed faces with rosewater and put sliced cucumbers on eyelids. Four hours later, it was over, all that work transformed into happiness.

Though not my usual format, it was a successful bit of performance art.

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