Up until quite recently, I had lived for nearly 40 years without ever setting foot inside of a spa. They’re a ridiculous waste of money and time, a luxury of spoiled rich women who have more cash than they know what to do with. Eventually when they ran out of material shit to buy, the spa industry was born to fill the void.
The notion of paying a person to “pamper” your body with oils and herbs is stupid; that’s the same way I prepare a chicken to roast in the oven. I would never willingly participate in something that reeked of so much frivolity. At least that’s how I felt before my mother suggested full-body massages for the both of us for my 39th birthday. “It’ll be fun,” she said. “We’ll feel amazing afterward!”
I had always been weirded out by the thought of a stranger rubbing their greasy mitts all over me so my inclined response to her proposal was a resounding “no,” until she added, “It’s my treat!”
It was my birthday; why not humor her this one time?
The spa was located inside of a resort hotel we were staying in. Beyond smokey glass doors awaited a foreign world filled with scented oils and bubbling fountains, candles aglow in darkened rooms. Soft, willowy music permeated the air and I half-expected to be met by a hippie Wiccan instead of the conservative receptionist who greeted us.
The business woman guided us into a small changing room where she instructed us to undress, underwear optional, and to place all of our clothing and valuables into small lockers for safekeeping. We were given fresh robes that weighed about fifteen pounds apiece and told to step outside when we were ready to begin.
After she left, my mom and I looked at each other as we began to disrobe and simultaneously asked one another, “Are you ditching your underwear? I don’t know, are you?” We both agreed that yes, we would get butt-nekkid. We were on an adventure together and we were doing this shit right.
We shuffled out to meet our masseuses (masseusii?) and from there we parted ways. Led into a warm, dark room illuminated by votive candles, I was left alone to remove my borrowed drapery and slip beneath the blanket on the bed.
What followed were some of the most magical 60 minutes of my life. Aside from holding back a couple of potentially deadly farts that threatened the safety of a tiny room harboring open flames, the level of relaxation I experienced was like nothing I had ever felt before. I was hooked.
Afterward, my mom and I went to dinner and barely spoke to one another, we were so high on tranquility. As we quietly waited for our meal to arrive, I slowly began to notice that the tip of my index finger hurt. A lot. It was burning, in fact. I couldn’t quite understand why that could be, it was a mystery, until I looked down and saw that it was resting in my coffee.
After dinner, we returned to our room for a three-hour nap because we just could not go on.
We didn’t even check out of the hotel before booking our next spa treat, body wraps, for my mother’s birthday vacation the following month.
If you have never had a body scrub and wrap, you need to remedy that shit. Now. I’m not even kidding. You have not known a full bodygasm until you’ve been scrubbed all over and wrapped up like a taquito. The skin on my limbs, neck, chest, and back was gently-but-vigorously scratched with cinnamon-vanilla brown sugar before heated, pumpkin-scented oil was applied. As if that bliss was not enough, hot, wet towels were wrapped around my hands and feet like giant mittens and I had to quell the instantaneous urge to pee, right before a foil sheet was pulled up around my body. A heavy, heated blanket was bundled around me and carefully tucked in all the right places. The icing on my cake was a scalp massage before being left alone to rest with my thoughts.
I lay quietly in the dark, a vanilla-pumpkin-scented human burrito, feeling delicious and not at all claustrophobic. I never wanted it to end. As my mind drifted away, I almost began to panic about what I would do if my nose started to itch until I made the conscious decision to banish such thoughts out of fear that I would cause psychosomatic ticklings to spite myself. I let go and sailed off to sleep.
When it was over, I experienced a walk-in shower with six (!) shower heads to rinse everything off. Up until that point, I’d only ever seen those in magazines filled with pictures of upscale homes and decor that I will never be able to afford. I decided the spa really should have posted a sign that warns visitors to “Shield Your Nipples Upon Entering” because the top shower streams on either side of the stall seemed to be aiming right for them like tit-seeking missiles. I covered them with my hands and stood still, letting the water wash the rest of my cares away.
Unlike the massage, I felt completely invigorated after the treatment. My entire body felt like a baby’s butt, minus the poop, and I smelled like a freshly-baked pumpkin pie. I was ready to take on the world in my revitalized state.
My mom and I are on a mission to try something new the next time we travel together, but I’m afraid I’ve already set the bar incredibly high and nothing else will ever compare to the wonders of what I’ve already experienced. Still, I remain an addict lying in wait for my next fix; the spa is my drug of choice and I’m its groveling crack whore.