My husband got me a massage for Christmas. There, I said it. He actually paid for two massages, and the first one went so horrifically awkward that I still haven’t used the second one. It wasn’t an entire fiasco, but it was certainly not the most comfortable I’ve ever been.
Right off the bat, I remember driving to the appointment at this frou-frou medical spa, thinking to myself, “I’m about to take off all my clothes and let a stranger touch me without making eye contact. Kind of like the gynecologist.” And seriously, at the risk of sounding ungrateful about my present, that is kind of how much I was looking forward to it as evidenced by the fact that I got it for Christmas (because apparently my husband thinks the new spare tire I wanted for my camper “isn’t a gift”) and hadn’t used it by April. I’m not big on strangers touching me while I’m not wearing my delicates.
I checked in at the spa and realized I was the only person there–patron or employee–who hadn’t had anything freshly botoxed. These people were so polished and buffed they were shiny. The attendant showed me to the locker room where the towels and robes were stored, then pointed me to the shower.
Let’s get one thing straight: there are times when it’s appropriate to take off all your clothes and shower with strangers around. A) You’ve just finished a grueling CrossFit class and your muscles are screaming for cool water, B) you work in a nuclear power plant and you’ve just been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation, C) you’ve been hiking in the wilderness for four days and your body odor is scaring away bears, and D) no, there is no D. Those three reasons are all I can think of that justify standing in a communal shower with strangers.
I skipped the shower, since I’d read online before my appointment that showering is considered polite and I’d therefore just stepped out of my own (private) shower before getting dressed and getting in the car.
Then there’s the robes. I’m on the bigger end of the big girl scale, but even I can unabashedly say that I’m by far not the biggest girl on the block. I’m pretty sure I still field dress under 110lbs. But these robes were made for people who wrestle in the peewee weight class. After three attempts, I found one that actually met in the middle, let alone crossed over and belted. Since I wasn’t sure about all the rules here for hygiene (and since they were kind of hung up on the need for a shower), I threw all the ones I’d tried on in the laundry bin. It looked like I’d gone rampantly down the row of lockers and stolen all the robes, then hidden them inside my robe. Sadly, I couldn’t have hidden a box of Tic Tacs inside my robe.
The actual massage part wasn’t horrific because it turns out the licensed massage therapist has a niece on my kid’s cheer squad, so we’d at least seen each other before. We spent the hour dogging the other cheer moms. It was kind of funny in a shallow, bitchy way once I got over the desire to scream, “I need an adult!”
When I made it back to the locker room, THAT’S when I felt like a shower might be in order. I’d just spent an hour with a mostly-stranger’s hands on my body. I referred back to my rule about three acceptable times to shower with strangers and decided to shower back at home with only my children barging in to watch. I got dressed, dropped robe number six in the laundry bin, and went to check out.
Since this was all on a gift certificate (because I didn’t get that spare tire), all I had to do at the register was leave a tip for the massage therapist. I’d also been told to expect that, and yes, it was clearly printed on the gift certificate as well. I handed over my credit card since I don’t believe in cash (because I suck at math, not because of a conspiracy theory involving the pyramid and George Washington’s eye, or anything) and was shocked to discover that my 20% gratuity came to twenty bucks. Even I can do the math there…I just paid a stranger $100 for the privilege of taking my clothes off and letting her touch me for an hour.
Now, I’ve never been a professional hooker, but I think that just happened in reverse. They should have paid me for this. I didn’t even shower, but I did wear the outfit they left for me to put on and then strip when they told me to so someone could spend sixty minutes of my life groping me in a semi-dark room with music playing. I read 50 Shades of Grey, and I’m telling you, that scene is in there word for fucking word. Sadly, when I got home and my husband wanted to hear all about it, I was then stiffed the $19.99 a minute phone sex workers get paid for this. I’m starting to see why hookers need unions (and no, that’s not a pimp joke), because us freelancers are just left hanging.