The massage

The different types If you go to a massage parlour, that is definitely a sex thing, although if you think you will have trouble remembering the word "parlour", here are some other clues: look for a building with entirely black windows that smells ... bad. You're probably in a massage parlour. Or a school for magicians. If it smells of anything nice - jasmine, for instance - and says "massage" on the door, then it is the other sort of massage.

Once you're sure you're in the other sort of massage establishment, do not use these words or phrases: "extras"; "I like it sweet"; "how about a bit lower down?"; "I'm in the market for something a bit more expensive."

Hands Don't touch the masseuse, or do anything at all with your hands that you wouldn't do in front of your mum. In fact, think of the masseuse as your mum.


Dress code Remove only so many clothes as they have asked you to remove. And when they do that complex, "I'm holding the towel and looking away so you can flip over" manoeuvre, concentrate and cooperate - don't get embarrassed and get it all wrong and fall off the table.


Beauty treatments

Pain If you have a very low pain threshold, or a sensitivity in one particular area, you have no right to inflict this on a beautician. She can take it if this is the first time you've ever had your bikini line done. I had a friend who, when she first had her legs done, had an instant ghetto reaction and punched the woman in the face. We're not friends any more: I'd like to say because she's such a hardnut, but in fact, I slept with her boyfriend.

But sorry, if it's your 40th wax and you're still keening and cursing the very heavens, you are in breach of beauty courtesy.

Safety first If you're having a Brazilian, or any other downstairs treatment, listen very carefully to her instructions. It is so easy to go wrong. Also, if you've just been painted with pink clay, wrapped in Cellophane, over-wrapped in silver-foily stuff and then covered with a blanket, don't, even if you're feeling really claustrophobic, tell the lady she reminds you of Kathy Bates in Misery.


The changing room

Nudity Even though it will get a bit wet, which is the last thing you want, you need to take your towel into the shower and fling it over the door, in order to be naked for the minimum amount of time. Never stay naked while you talk on the phone or do your make-up, not even just the base coat. I wouldn't even do that at home.

Shaving I can't believe I have to point this out, but never shave your legs in the shower. And don't sit at the mirror plucking your chin hair. (Especially not while nude, as actually does happen.) The best etiquette rule for grooming I ever heard was: "If it produces any waste, you can't do it in public." Ergo, no nail clipping, shaving, plucking of chin hair, scab picking ... Nothing like that at all.

Ogling See gym section. Now stop reading this, and put some clothes on.



Dress code No bikinis - I'm serious, here. You may well think, "I'm in a wet situation, and the bikini is a garment specifically designed for wet situations." You're wrong. Bikinis are for showing off your hot body. Totally inappropriate for the Jacuzzi, which is for giving yourself weird, tickling sensations.

Weird, tickling sensations Don't go: "Oooh, ah, ooh ghee-heeeee! Hee heee!"

Hygiene Naturally, having spent five minutes in, everyone in a Jacuzzi is as clean as each other. But if you're the kind of person of whom it is said, by friends, "She/he looks presentable, but I always think that downstairs would be a bit iffy", then you will ruin the Jacuzzi experience for everyone involved.

Seating Observe bus rules: sit as far away as possible from anyone else.

Talking Don't. Not even in an emergency. Checking whether or not someone has died is not usually necessary in a Jacuzzi; in a sauna, though, I often think people have passed out or sunk into a coma. But don't be tempted to speak. To check for signs of life, simply stare really intently at their ribcage, and hope they don't open their eyes all of a sudden - though, on the plus side, that would definitely mean they were alive.

Eye contact Never make it. Don't even swivel your eyeballs to keep your eyelids warm.


The gym

Dress code Avoid short shorts. Avoid T-shirts with political slogans. (You bring your political philosophy into disrepute if you espouse it while wheezing and sweating.) Avoid bra-tops, hipster trousers, anything with football insignia, T-shirts with band names (see politics) and T-shirts with risqué slogans such as "suck my plums". Ditto leotard-over-legging ensembles, leggings altogether, those leggingy-shorts (especially if you're a man), loose, cotton-mix long-shorts that you can clearly see outlines through, and flashing trainers. As in, trainers that literally have batteries, and flash.

Ogling The other day, I witnessed this conversation. Man: "Do you want to go for a drink sometime?" Woman: "I think I'm a bit young for you." It was embarrassing from so many angles. He obviously thought they were about the same age; she clocked this, and then got a huffy "how old does he think I am?" look. Ew. Plus, I was watching. Horrid. Never do thisor any of the ogle-stages that might lead to it.

Sweat pools Some people take neat, decorous little towels to the gym with them, so no matter what torture their owner is going through, he or she will always look nice and dry. I want to say something derisive about these people, but the truth is, I'd love to be like them.


The pool

Lane discipline Don't plant yourself like a lummox in the fast lane. Also, don't swim too close behind people. It is an ongoing fear of all swimmers - interestingly, both male and female - that the only reason anyone else is even in the pool is to swim right up behind them and check out their bits.

Other staring Don't stare at people's thighs as they walk up and down the sides of the pool. I do understand - it's not a lascivious or judgmental thing. It's just so rare that you get to see a whole thigh, uninterrupted by clothes or kinky boots. I always stare. But I never like it when it happens to me.

Veruccas Normal rules apply vis-à-vis veruccas: which is to say - eurgh! You are disgusting! I bet you have nits! I bet you have warts as well! Etc etc.

Splashing Don't do the butterfly stroke, or anything else that is ridiculously splashy.

Children It's OK to ask the person at the front desk when the schoolchildren come in, just make it clear that you're asking in order to avoid them.


Source: The Guardian