Christine sucked the first few layers of skin off my face with a machine that resembled a small, limbless robot with a very long penis. She used the tip of the phallus to scrape the old skin away, leaving the new, suppler, fresher looking skin behind.

“You see? It doesn’t hurt really so much, right? I use gentle diamond head to remove skin. Very gentle.”

I don’t usually get facials. Once in a while, I go to the L’Occitane Spa on Star Street to get a refresher. My face likes L’Occitane products so I trust them there. Recently, when I was killing time one afternoon back in Texas, I allowed this very flamboyant, kind older gentleman to talk me into buying a few Keihl’s products. In the past Keihl’s hasn’t really worked for me. I break out. But I wanted to make a change from L’Occitane, wanted to mix things up a bit. He also told me about this rather expensive product called Cellman.

He said in his gay, Texas twang, “Why if you want somethin’ really good, somethin’ that’s gonna really work for ya, I highly recommend Cellman. But let me tell you now, it ain’t cheap. Guess how much it is. Go on, guess. Guess! Guess!!!”

I guessed high but in the same ballpark. I would have lost the showcase had I been on The Price is Right but he was so nice he gave me all these Cellman samplers.

When I got back to Hong Kong, I slathered the Kiehl’s Creme de Corps all over my face one day and woke up with zits the next. I faired better with the Facial Fuel Anit-Wrinkle Cream, or so I thought.

Two weeks later and you could play connect the dots on my face. Some of the pimples were dry and dead but others were popping up in odd places like my forehead. Now I don’t normally have a problem with zits so this shit was really starting to piss me off. I finally made a call to the spa after my partner made a joke about my face. I’m three years older than he is and I’ll be damned if I’m going to age gracefully. It takes work to look younger than I really am. Exercise, vodka, staying out of the sun, and the occasional facial intervention.

I picked up the phone and called the Four Seasons spa. I needed something more than just the regular L’Occitane facial. I needed the works, the whole enchilada.

“Hi, I’d like to make an appointment for the resurfacing facial for tomorrow afternoon if possible.”

“Yes, but first I’d like to know why selected the resurfacing facial.”

She went on to warn me that this facial wasn’t for everyone, that some had bad reactions, that people with sensitive skin could find the diamond crystal wand too difficult to take. She was starting to scare me. I started to imagine Patsy in that episode of Ab Fab where she gets the chemical peel. Fortunately, she suggested a consultation first, followed by the treatment. If the resurfacing facial was right for me, my consultant would give me the green light.

The day of my treatment, I used the spa facilities, put on the robe and made my way to the waiting area. I usually come here for my mani/pedis so I have my routine down. Incidentally, the facilities are nice. I love the relaxation room, but the wet and dry areas are beginning to show their age. If you want Hong Kong boom, I recommend the Bliss Spa at the W Hotel. Bliss is on the 71st floor and you have these boom views from the jacuzzi and treatment rooms. The furnishings and details aren’t as good as at the Four Seasons, but that view.

Christine was an excellent consultant. None of that whatever I say is good bullshit. If she disagreed with aspects of my “morning moisturizing routine” she told me. She gave me pointers and tips on how not to break out in the future and how to better take care of my skin.

“Your face is very supple, very good skin but your neck is not so supple. Good but not so good like your face. Do you use moisturizing lotion on your neck?”

I said yes and then she told me that using your facial moisturizer on your neck was better than a body lotion because facial moisturizers are stronger and gentler. Who knew?

I had snuck a Xanax into a pocket of my robe in case I’d be given the go ahead for the Resurfacing Facial. I get a little weird when it comes to closing my eyes for too long, being fondled by a uniformed stranger and remaining in a small, enclosed space–even those with nice views of the pool and harbor. Besides, if this procedure did hurt, I was going to endure the pain with positive thinking, meditation and medication.

By this time, I was already cocooned in my blanket wearing my black, paper throwaway cardboard panties (Don’t you hate those?) so I asked her to reach into the pocket of my robe to retrieve the little white pill. She seemed a bit confused but played along. I mean, I wasn’t asking her to pull my finger or anything else for that matter. She’s a professional, not a “professional” after all. Christine gave me my pill and a glass of water. I gulped that sucker down.

“Okay, I’m ready.”

I only wanted to jump up and scream just once but the Xanax kicked in just in time. I nearly nodded off once too. I don’t credit the Xanax for that, I credit Christine’s soothing touch, rhythmic motions and that vitamin C lotion she was using on my face. Must get some of that later this week.

While I lie there half asleep, I imagined the 22 year-old me. What a little do-gooder, hippy, drunken lesbian I was–I’ve always been a lesbian trapped in a gay man’s body. But now? Now I was a fearful, vain gay man cocooned in a blanket at the Four Seasons high on Xanax on a Wednesday afternoon. A cliche.

I’ll tell you what I fear more than being a cliche. I fear looking my age more than I do a small, limbless robot with a long penis. I fear it more than I do a chemical peel, a needle or the knife. One day, I’m going to have to look into fillers and botox, but for now I have Christine and her diamond headed phallus.

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