Our Boy Braves A Trip To The Spa
By Brett Smiley
Last week I lost my spa virginity. The experience was surprising, enlightening, a bit scary and, as advertised, relaxing.
My instructions were as follows: Go get a treatment you've never had before, and tell us all about it. That narrowed down the universe of possible treatments to everything except an athletic massage I splurged on at an Atlantic City casino. (And by the way, I didn't even realize that "treatment" was the lingo used for the 50-or-so different things a spa will do to your body.)
Nevertheless, I examined the menu of treatment options at the Great Jones Spa in downtown Manhattan and obsessed over my choice. After reading the description for the Dead Sea Salt Glow/Massage, the choice was obvious. It reads:
"This treatment uses a stimulating scrub to reveal your inner radiance. Circulation is energized with Dead Sea salts, containing magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Salts are infused with Laminaria Oil for the nourishment of your skin. Tired, dead skin is revitalized by an intense scrub followed by a Swedish massage using Prophyra Red Algae Lotion. After this invigorating, relaxing treatment, prepare to glow from the inside-out."
I had never heard of Dead Sea salts, laminaria oil or prophyra red algae, but I was ready to become radiant.
When I stepped into the lobby of the well-lit spa (which smelled of fresh flowers), I was quite confident that I didn't belong there. I was wearing cargo shorts, sneakers and my favorite black polo shirt, and I was unclear about how this whole operation worked. Would they try giving me a manicure on the spot? I didn't want a manicure; I hate the sound of a nail file.
A gentleman named Carlos escorted me around the building, which includes a water lounge on the bottom floor and a two-story stream visible from the atrium in the back stairwell. It was impressive. Then he showed me the men's locker room and told me to put on a robe and slippers and to wait for my masseuse in a lounge area. Determined to fit in, I put on my standard-issue white robe. It kind of made me feel like a member of a cult, or better yet, the Dharma Initiative.
I joined my fellow "cult" members in the lounge and my masseuse, Danielle, a friendly 30-something brunette, greeted me a few minutes after I sat down. I followed her to the bottom floor and into the room where I would get my body scrub ... and immediately became terrified.
The scrub-a-torium looked more like a medieval torture chamber to my uninitiated eyes. The back wall was brick and there was a steel sink fit for a prison cell on one side with steel contraptions, dials and tubes, and showers overhead. I was expecting a sponge and a couple tubes of body lotion. This looked more like an operating room.
"Take your time and get comfortable on the shower bed and let me know when you're ready," Danielle said.
"Sounds good," I replied.
Danielle must be used to eager-to-be-scrubbed female clients, not bewildered men who have never stepped foot in a real spa. So this was an experience for both of us.
"All set!" I shouted as I cosied myself in the (obviously expensive) towels covering the shower bed.
Danielle returned through the sliding doors and told me she would begin by turning on the warm water overhead, then start the scrubbing at my feet and legs. The water was a nice temperature and the scrub-slash-massage was certainly something I could get used to. Although, I had to hold back laughter as Danielle rubbed my ticklish feet with the salt. The salt-scrubbing itself wasn't abrasive and actually felt quite good. Note: My only previous experiences with a scrub were the two times I grabbed a glob of whatever my girlfriend keeps in our shower at home.
By the time Danielle reached my arms and back with the scrub, I had zoned out. There was a towel draped over my head and face — not for water boarding — but to protect me from getting splashed. I was comfortable and relaxed as nature sounds played from a radio in the room.
Midway through the scrubbing session I was told to turn over, which I did, and Danielle scrubbed my top side. A similar routine, and likewise, it was relaxing.
Ladies: I get it. I now understand the appeal of spas. It's nice to be pampered. The remainder of my one-hour treatment, a Swedish massage with Red Algae, was great. I was in a trance by that time, so Danielle could have been rubbing me down with grape jelly for all I knew.
"Take some time for yourself when you get up," Danielle said.
Naturally, I popped right up and I was a bit light-headed, but in a good, mind-flushed sort of way. I didn't know what my skin was supposed to look like for all of Danielle's efforts. What does "revitalized" and "invigorated" even mean? My skin felt pretty soft, I thought, but I couldn't even remember what it was like when I arrived.
Of course my girlfriend, immensely jealous of my spa visit, inspected my appearance when she saw me later that day.
"Your elbows feel like a baby's bottom," she said. "Ooh ... I hate you."
Indeed. And I felt radiant.
Does your guy like being pampered, spa-style?Istockphoto