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I Am a Pretty Little Girl; A Day Spa Adventure
Spa Robe.JPGWhat am I doing here?

What is that smell?

Maybe it's sandalwood. I've always wondered what sandalwood smells like. It's probably sandalwood.

Am I the only guy in this joint? I don't see any other guys.

She's looking at me weird. Am I going to have to take my clothes off? Is my underwear in acceptable condition? Seriously, what am I doing here? Too late to back out now. Okay, deep breath, let's do this.


Two days earlier...

I was sent an email from Scaramouch - the boss man - asking me if I could go on a little field trip. AXE, the makers of deodorants, body sprays, shower gels and funny commercials, were having a press junket to promote some new products. Could I go and write a column about the experience?

Sure, no problem.

"The event is at a day spa."

Uh, a what?

There are places where I don't exactly ... fit in. Square peg, round hole. The ballet, for example. I don't belong at the recital. Or a trendy night club. I hate it there. Hate the music, hate the crowds of shallow people, hate the guy making eleven bucks an hour deciding who gets into the place, I just hate it. Now, a day spa, that's a whole other level fidgeting in my chair.

barber.jpg I'm a barbershop guy. I dig the old school hot lather, straight razor shave and a haircut. (Two bits.) In my shower is Head & Shoulders shampoo and Ivory soap. That's it. No exfoliating lotions, no astringents, no facial masks. Meat and potatoes. Shampoo and soap. I'm a simple bloke. An antonym of metrosexuality.

When I called in to book my spa treatment, I was told I could use a complimentary car service to get there. I already felt uncomfortable with the whole situation and declined. The subway will be fine.

Huge mistake.

In between 86th and 79th Streets, the 1 train stopped in the tunnel. Then the lights dimmed. Then the air conditioning shut off. Then I think I had a stroke.

Twenty-two minutes later, I was on the move again. My sweat glands were just as aggravated as I was. They rebelled and sent forth torrents of anger.

By the time I got to the Dorit Baxter Day Spa on 57th Street, I was more than a little worse for wear and tear. Alright, that is sugar-coating it. I looked like hell. Like Patrick Ewing in the second quarter of a playoff game. Dripping. Niagara freaking Falls.

I received a few odd looks and borderline stink-eyes from the spa staff until I explained my plight. I think they thought I had swam there from New Jersey.

Friendly Mollye, part of the AXE staff hosting the event, sympathized with my ordeal and offered me a bucket of water. "Do you have a trough that I can dunk my head in? That would be great."

With three ice waters chugged, I sat down in the spa lobby. I flashed on Henry Jones Sr. telling Indy, "My boy, we are pilgrims in an unholy land." It was a completely foreign environment to me. Along the far wall was a group of padded chairs that had water basins and spigots where your feet would be. That must be for pedicures, I thought. There was a familiar sight on the wall in front of me, 60-inch flat-screen television. But ESPN wasn't on it. (sigh...)

The telly was running a series of AXE ads on a loop. One of the spots uses the word "undercarriage." Every time the word came up, I laughed. Every time. Undercarriage, that's hilarious.

Solidarity. That's what I needed. Some others with an Adam's apple that were feeling as uncomfortable as I was. I kept looking for another man, counting in my head, 11, 12, that's 13 woman and me. Ah, there's anoth-- I stopped that thought. There was another guy, but it didn't really count. He was apparently in a Sean Hayes impression contest. He had an over-the-top campy act going. I'm pretty sure his name was Sebastian. Sebastian seemed more than comfortable in his spa issued robe. As he flitted around the room, he was sipping on an dirty martini. I swear.

There's another guy. Two more guys. Okay, I feel better.

Another of the AXE gang, Katie in the green dress, came over to say that she spoke with the spa staff - and apparently told them that I was dripping sweat on the carpet - and sweetly said, "Johnny, if you would like to take a shower before your treatments, that would be okay."

Yep, feeling real cool now.

"I'm fine." I said. I went into the restroom to towel off.

mn_hunter0387.jpg Sitting in the lobby area, I felt very self conscience. Everyone seemed to be staring at me. They knew I didn't belong there. I felt like the stock broker at Yankee Stadium that is obviously there because his firm was given box seats. It's his first live sporting event, he looks uneasy, doesn't know what's going on in the game, he even looks awkward with a hot dog. I felt like that guy. So I went into my military style shoulder bag and pulled out my book. I'll just read while I'm waiting. That's a good idea. I'll look less conspicuous. The tome I had with me was a collection of essays from Hunter Thompson. ("The Great Shark Hunt," if you're curious.) I laughed to myself as I thought this was most likely the first time Hunter has ever been read in a day spa. I think ole' Raoul Duke, may he rest in peace, would have liked that.

Mollye walked over with my spa treatment "menu" to examine. AXE has three new body washes that are coming out, and I was going to choose one of the three to give a test run.

I gave the menu a once over. These were my choices of services;

Back in the Saddle: I did like that the product to be used was called AXE Snake Peel Shower Scrub, but it didn't quite feel right. Snake Peel, though, well done.

Body Movin': Points for a possible Beastie Boys reference, but still not the treatment that I was going to take out for a spin and kick the tires.

Weekend Warrior: The procedure description started with, "Gym rats and tough guys..." I've heard enough. I'll have that one. Let's butch this up a bit.

After changing into the spa issued robe, with only underpants on underneath and a pair of foam slippers on my feet, I was escorted down the long, narrow corridor of the spa. The rooms were all named, with their titles painted on in turquoise. Names like "Sage Brush" and "Sea Breeze." My room was named "Strawberry Fields." I took that as a good sign.

Standing in Strawberry Fields with my robe tied tight, the stranger who was about to scrub me down gave some instructions. I felt bad that I didn't understand her that well. (She spoke a little broken English, bless her heart...) The only phrase I deciphered was, "like a diaper." I sheepishly expressed confusion, so she demonstrated. She took the cloth from the table and showed me how to tuck it in-between my legs, covering my bum and junk. You know, like a diaper. Then she told me to lay on the table when I was ready. She stepped outside of Strawberry Fields.

I put on the diaper/cloth/thing - What in the swaddling clothes am I doing? - and laid down.

Shower toool.JPG For the next half hour, I was scrubbed tops to tails with one of AXE's new body washes. Now, here is where is AXE is smart. I was being cleansed not with a sponge or a shower poof or whatever the hell you call those thingees, but with a "Shower Tool." A Tool. Brilliant. Whoever came up with that spin deserves a raise.

Relaxing was difficult. Being washed by a stranger has only happened to me six or seven other times. (Long stories, you don't want to hear them.) In time, I was able to settle down and almost enjoy the process. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't skeptical about the procedure going in. How much difference could this treatment possibly make? But I'll be damned if ten minutes in I didn't have a magical tingling sensation all over. I felt clean. It was different. Interesting.

I think I felt "exfoliated," but having never experienced that before, I'm not quite sure.

After a thirty minute scrub, it was time to rinse off. Diaper Lady told me to get into the shower, and a towel would be left for me when I was finished. Okay, no worries. Well, my scrubber was a little quick on the draw with the towel retrieval. In she walked to Strawberry Fields right before I popped into the shower.

And, there's my penis...

She said sorry over and over and left the towel. I'm not sure who was more embarrassed.

Alright, so far so good.

I walked down the hallway to another room when-- Hey Sebastian, having a good time? Of course you are. He had another dirty martini in his hand. He was loving it.

Next on the docket was the full body massage. I've only had a real massage one other time in my life. When I was 17-years-old on a Caribbean cruise ship.

Funny story; In international waters, you only have to be 18 to gamble. I had scoped out the proceedings for a couple days - casing the joint like Danny Ocean - saw that the ship's casino seemed pretty lax and thought I may as well take a shot. The third night I went to the pit boss and gave this sob-story. "Hey man, sorry to bother you, can you help me? I got pick-pocketed today in Cozumel. They got everything. Money, ID, Social Security Card, everything. So, I can't prove I'm 18. But I played here last night, she should remember me." I pointed to a cute blackjack dealer. The pit boss said to her, "You remember this kid? You carded him last night?" I grinned slyly at my mark. To this day, I don't know why, but she backed up my story. "Yeah, he played here last night. I remember him." Wow, it worked. "Okay kid, you can play. Cash him in."

I won big playing craps that night while my family slept soundly below decks. As the night wound down and the sun began to peek over the Atlantic Ocean's curved horizon, I took my winnings and got a massage. (From an actual Swedish girl.) I still don't think my parents know this story. The following day we were walking to dinner and an older gent that I had played dice with yelled out, "Hey kid! Nice roll last night!" "What is he talking about, honey?" I have no idea, Mom. Not a clue.

Okay, back to my tale. Only having one previous massage, I was a wee bit shaky on the etiquette. I know ballpark, locker room, steak-house and pick-up basket ball etiquette. Massage etiquette, not so much. The kind masseuse, a pretty Jamaican girl, told me to "get undressed," put a towel on, and lie down with my face in the hole. You know what I mean. Then she left to room.

underoos.jpg Do I leave my Underoos on? I do, right? I can't go buck-booty-bare-assed-naked. That's not what she meant, is it?

I figured it was much better to be wrong with underwear on than way wrong with underwear off. I'll play it safe. Underpants are staying on. I still don't know if that was the correct interpretation of my instructions but I already had a penis incident on the books. I wasn't going to chalk up another one.

The lights dimmed and the massage started. The music in the spa was what you would expect it to be. Very new-agey. Songs featuring dolphin noises, crashing waves and sitars. There was an odd plinky version of Ennio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" theme. A tad unsettling to be honest. Then in the middle of nowhere, came "Level" by The Raconteurs. It was almost as if the staff slipped the song into the rotation just to make me feel more at home.

During my massage I thought about Moe Green getting whacked in "The Godfather." It really is the perfect place to ice someone. Halfway through, I was so relaxed that Nicky Santoro could have jammed an ice pick into my eye socket and I may not have minded.

With my massage done and feeling looser than Paris Hilton, I switched back into my regular clothes. Coming out of the changing area, a sweet lady came over to greet me. She asked me to have a seat and we chatted for a bit. She asked how I enjoyed my experience and I told her how I have no business being here but actually did enjoy it. She mentioned I looked much more relaxed now than when I staggered in off the street. I then found out that she was Dorit, the owner of the spa. So when I was told the manicure was next and she sat there smiling and encouraging me, how could I have said no? She was so charming I couldn't decline for fear that I would offend. It was like when you are completely full but your buddies mom puts more pot roast on your plate. You better eat it, buster.

I took a deep breath. "What the hell," I've come this far. Bring on the manicure.

I was really unsure about this. I sat down and- oh, hello Sebastian, enjoying your pedicure? Of course you are. And another dirty martini I see. Atta boy.

Manicure2.JPG I sat down at the nail station. (Is that what it's called? I haven't the foggiest...) My nail technician looked at my hands for a minute or two. I imagine that to her, someone that does nails in a posh spa all day, my hands must have looked like they were gnawed on by rabid squirrels. The first move she made was to cut off a hangnail the size of a surfboard from my left thumb. The big bastard made a thunk when dropped into the wastebasket below.

Katie reappeared and offered me a cocktail. I'm a teetotaler, don't drink at all, so I asked for a Coke. She brought me the beverage and asked if I wanted the straw left in. "You know, with all this, I think the tiny red straw is a step too far. A little much." Katie softly nodded in agreement and removed the straw. Sebastian had three straws in his seventeenth dirty martini.

There I sat, nursing a Coca-Cola, having my nails reupholstered. I couldn't tell you what the liquids and concoctions were the girl was using. Some had a rubbing alcohol smell, but they could have been Mountain Dew, I wouldn't have had any idea. After a clipping and a pass with that sandpaper stick, the technician buffed my nails to a dull finish with what looked like a giant sugar-cube. I don't think it was a sugar-cube, but I can't be sure.

Nail Girl kept telling me to relax. Over and over again, "Relax, relax your hands." I really think I am, love. I'm trying to relax, it's the best I got.

"Can I do your cuticles?"

"Why not," I said as I swallowed the last gulp of my Coke. Why not.

The next instrument that came out appeared to be a miniature shoehorn. It was dipped into another phantom liquid - it could have been barbeque sauce for all I know - and did ... something to my cuticles. I'm not sure what besides push them back.

Then she tore off some cotton batting, wound it on a bamboo shoot and rubbed another clear liquid on my fancy-looking fingernails. Not a clue what was going on now. I didn't ask any further questions.

"Would you like a clear polish?"

"That's the same shade I got."

Of course it is Sebastian.

"No thank you. I think we're done," I said confidently.

casio calculator.jpg A quick peak at my cheap Casio calculator wristwatch showed that it was 8:45. Game 4 of the NBA Finals starts in about half an hour.

"Time for your pedicure Johnny."

I looked at my Casio again. I looked at my nails. Wow, those look good. I looked at Sebastian. I couldn't do it. If I missed Game 4 - which turned out to be an instant classic - to have my toes polished I'd never be able to live with myself.

I politely passed on the pedicure, thanked my hosts for one of the oddest evenings of my life, and left the spa with my gift bag of AXE products in tow.

With the harsh commuting experience I had getting there, I decided to take the car service home.

As the Town Car made it's way up Broadway to get me home, my Mum called. I told her I was just leaving a day spa. "Very funny, honey, what were you really doing?" I really was at a day spa, Mom. Laughter was all I heard on the other end of the phone. Uncontrollable laughter. "YOU? At a day spa?!?" She may still be laughing.

Even my loving Mum thought it was ridiculous that I had even stepped foot into the building.

What time is it? 9:15. I'll make tip-off.

Before I went home, I made damn sure I picked up a huge cheeseburger to eat during the game.

I had to balance this night out somehow.



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10 Comments

This article makes me want to shampoo with meat and potatoes.

Please tell me the Carribean massage aside is completely fabricated. It is way too funny to be real.

said Don't Swayze Bro on June 16, 2008 2:18 PM.

You're a man's man Johnny. Through and through. So can I claim some of that body scrub, you know, for the Misses?

said Echowood on June 16, 2008 2:19 PM.

You bet Echowood. No problem.

*wink, wink.*

Swayze, the caribbean massage tale is on the level. It's true.

said Johnny Wright on June 16, 2008 2:23 PM.

Sweet mercy, that was hilarious! I think you should have asked them to turn on the game and gotten that pedicure...thanks for the Monday morning laugh!

said Missy on June 16, 2008 3:37 PM.

My pleasure Missy. I'm just here to boost the morale of the troops.

Thanks for reading.

JW

said Johnny Wright on June 16, 2008 4:15 PM.

Man, that piece was a thing of beauty. Johnny, you get all the freebies from now on.

said Scaramouch on June 16, 2008 9:45 PM.

You are so funny! Wish I could of seen that show in person.

said Summer on June 16, 2008 10:55 PM.

My girl took me to get a pedicure. The little Asian lady took one look at my feet, called her friend over and spoke very quickly in Korean. I think they were developing an attack strategy.

She grimaced and went to work, after putting on gloves. I was faintly insulted. I keep clean, the callus I have was hard won.

Anyway, my feet looked and felt great. And they put on Sport Center for me.

said Trailwaze on June 17, 2008 2:03 PM.

You're a braver man than I my friend.

said Johnny Wright on June 17, 2008 2:27 PM.

It never ceases to amaze what one will do for the attention of a lady.

The best part was, as we were leaving there was a drive by shooting. (Not kidding, one man died.) We hid behind cars as 9mm bullets whizzed overhead. I have since moved to a nicer part of the state in which I reside. Ah, the quiet suburbs....

said Trailwaze on June 17, 2008 4:58 PM.
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