Editor's Query

Sunday, July 5, 2009

When I was vacationing in the principality of Andorra a few years ago, I treated myself to an extravagant self-indulgence: five days at the fabulous world-renowned spa Caldea.

Caldea is a soaring glass palace where visitors can enjoy a range of massages, baths and beauty treatments. I had saved my money for the experience.

Every day, I had a custom massage and then was escorted by an attendant to a relaxation room, where I lay in a lounge chair facing a wall of floor-to-ceiling windows and watched the clouds over the Pyrenees cast their evening shadows on the mountains.

On my last day at Caldea, I had scheduled a facial. The specialist who examined me frowned and told me in accented English, "You are too sensible for a facial."

So, pouting, I told her in English that I had been looking forward to the treatment. She clucked, shrugged and rolled her eyes. Then she gave me my facial. Afterward, she wrapped my face in scented towels, which made my skin tingle.

That night in my hotel room, I awakened to feel my face throbbing. It was swollen and red, and my eyes were so puffy that I could barely open them. I crept down to the infirmary. The staff administered ointments and a shot of Benadryl and helped me back to bed. They said I would feel better by morning.

It turns out I was allergic to the ingredients in the facial lotions. Hadn't the clinician advised me that I had sensitive skin, the staff asked. "No," I said. "She told me that I was too sensible for a facial." They looked at one another and shook their heads. "No, madam, she meant to tell you that your skin was too sensitive for a facial."

Jeanette Anders, Silver Spring

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