Aside from a pedicure here and a facial there, I didn’t experience my first “spa day” until I was 26. My boyfriend at the time got me some uber-deluxe-platinum-premium-special-person package that included six hours of being poked, prodded, polished and dusted in cocoa powder. By the time I was finished with the nails, hair, makeup, massage, wrap, reflexology and facial, I looked like a million bucks and felt like a train wreck. I made him cancel our anniversary dinner and put me straight to bed. Relaxing is painfully exhausting – fantastically exhausting.
Flash forward some odd years and I eat up any opportunity to be pampered – in spite of the pain (except manicures – that’s real torture). In my years of excruciating bliss I’ve been jabbed with hot stones, poked with sticks, and walked on by tiny little ladies in Vietnam with freakishly strong toes. When it comes to finding the pleasure in the pain, here’s a little run down of the rub down:
First, you’re stripped down to a robe and sandals and all your worldly possessions are locked up for the foreseeable future. Next, they hole you up in a room where you aren’t allowed to talk and the only sustenance is water laced with vegetables.
Finally, they call you into the “treatment room.” Here, you are laid on a table that looks suspiciously like that contraption they had Hannibal Lecter strapped to and are told to “relax.” Then you spend the next 49 minutes trying to do just that.
Once you close your eyes and brace yourself the real torture begins as one at a time, your senses are fussed with:
Sight: Whether face-down in the pillow vice or face-up and blindfolded by a wet towel or sliced produce, you have no idea what awaits you. Every so often you dare to open your eyes for a peek at the size of the shoes under the table.
Smell: A cocktail of incense, scented candles and herbal oils fills the room with intoxicating intensity lulling you into submission. Every so often a waft of something new floods your olfactory and you tense with anticipation at what new concoction will be slathered upon you – and you think maybe, just maybe, it’s a can of Duncan Hines vanilla bean frosting.
Touch: Depending on your torture du jour, you could become the victim of anything from having your first layer of skin peeled to being tarred in shea butter and feathered in banana leaves. Your “deep tissues” will be rubbed, you will be bent like a pretzel, and you may even experience the brutality of pore extraction.
Intuition: In the most painful form of self-torture, your inner monologue will run rampant with the possibilities. Is she going to remember to do my left leg? Should I remind her to do my left leg? Is that vanilla? I thought I said I wanted eucalyptus but I swear that’s vanilla. Or is that cinnamon? Did she already do my left leg? No my left leg is cold; she couldn’t have already done my left leg. Did I shave my left leg? There has to still be at least twenty minutes left. That’s definitely not eucalyptus. Damn cucumber blindfold. Wow this feels fantastic I wonder if she’s free next Thursday.
Sound: In the background, a symphony of birds, rain drops and various wind instruments plays so subtlety you can’t tell when one song begins and the next ends. You strain to find the rhythm among the ribbits and tweets and just when you think you’ve figured it out, it’s all over.
Taste: At the end of your treatment, you are released back into the wild tired, throbbing and holding a cup of herbal tea tasting strangely like whatever is still slathered on your face.
After you return to reality and spend the rest of the day being red, sore, and useless, it dawns on you that going to the spa is one of the most wonderful, painful, fantastic uses of your time and energy and you can’t wait to do it again. What’s your spa torture of choice?
Related post: I Hate Manicures