samedi, décembre 04, 2010

My Main Line moment

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A few days ago I had reason to go to a doctor in Bryn Mawr.

My well-known dermatologist is friendly, chatty, direct, and mostly comforting. Pictures of dogs hang all over her offices, lending them a personal air. Unless you are another doctor (or ill, of course) you don't get to see her more than every 15-18 months.

But she's a darn good doctor, as are the doctors who share the practice. She's also quite the businesswoman, having created her own brand on the basis of her wonderful reputation.

As you go to the suite of offices that house the practice, you see, on the right, another door. That is my doctor's acclaimed version of a med-spa. While I confess that I've been to spas before (and even have a friend who botoxes regularly) I was both drawn and repelled by the idea of exploring the mysteries of this one. I mean, it seems a little cliched, doesn't it?

Catch me, I'm falling.

As soon as I walked in the door of the dermatologist suite, I noticed a big sign on the window, heralding a "once a year" party in which every service was twenty-percent off.

Ladies, how could I turn my back on a sale?

When I opened the door of the spa, having added a few sutures to my frame, I stopped for a moment, overwhelmed. A woman stood near the window, serving up sandwiches and fruit, cheeses and tea. Had I arrived late at some tea for the horsefarm set?

Apparently all the food was to underline the party theme - or maybe to tart it up. And speaking of tarts...the whole place was jammed with women. Tall women. Buxom women. Slender blondes with ponytails. Tiny brunettes.

Women in pantsuits!

Can you imagine?

I almost fled (ok, I've seen pantsuits before). But the greens and reds, the walls of semi-medical face and body unguents, the scented soaps and omni-present branding, were as compelling as they were pagan. The priestesses hid behind another door, attending their customers -- who knew what really went on?
Delectable as well as disturbing, the scene, reeking of discretionary cash in a time of want, rather like a Roman orgy.
I was seduced.

For a few moments, that is. Then it became claustrophobic.
I'm not unfamiliar with the customs of that land -- but returning made me aware of how badly I'd once wanted to learn the language and act as though I fit in.
I realized I couldn't game the hierarchy one night after a wonderful picnic with old friends. This swim club is so exclusive you don't even put it in your obituary, one of them told us. In Trollope's time, we might have passed for gentry. But not now.

Now I knew that I didn't belong -- and pretending that I did wasn't even fun anymore. Oh yes, I have my indulgences -- but being part of the Main Line lifestyle takes work. And I'm a slacker.

Progress? Arguable. I'm not going to tell you what I bought.