I am not an adventurous person. I was never one for all night parties, sex without regret, and experimentation of anything illegal, mind-altering, or past it’s expiration date. All my life, I thought it was shameful to be so tame, but I’ve finally learned to embrace it. It’s who I am. So here I am. Liz Black, born to be mild.
EPISODE ONE: A DAY AT THE SPA
I love a good massage. Is there anyone who doesn’t? I guess I can think of one person, a friend from high school who really didn’t like to be touched which is just a whole ‘notha story, but a massage is one of those things that is the weirdest concept for luxury I can really imagine. You pay someone to knead your muscles like dough, sometimes kneading in places that are almost private, for a whole lot of money. And yet it’s legal. Tonight I got a massage. This is my story.
A few things to know in advance. I love discounts, bargains and coupons, so 2010 was the year of my discovering Groupon, Gilt, Jetsetter, etc. Any online subscription that promises to get me luxurious things at half the price, I am signed up. So last week I saw a deal on Gilt City, which I dare you to subscribe to without getting “We Built This City” stuck in your head every single time you log on, for a massage at the Setai Spa. I’m familiar with the Setai because it is directly across from where I babysit. Again, for followers of the blog, you’re aware that I am over 30 and still babysit. A girl has to pay for her half-off luxuries somehow. I had never been to the Setai, but I knew it would be luxurious and Bliss-like, without all the harsh lighting and blue packaging of Bliss. I was very right. It was Asian Bliss with dark wood, fruit water and free tampons. Heaven.
The last thing to know is that I got engaged recently and am in the throes of wedding planning. Which means that if you stick a tire pressure gauge in me right now, there’s roughly forty pounds of wedding-related stress residing in my neck. So I decided to treat myself to a massage, but that’s not to say I didn’t ask Beloved Soon-To-Be-Legal Companion if he wanted to join. He declined, citing things like “saving money” and “my deserving it” which is code for “there’s a Penguins game on that night.” His loss, because there is no better time to get a massage than the day of a snow emergency. I was the only, and I mean ONLY person in the spa tonight. I felt so rich you can’t even believe it.
The massage itself was 60 minutes of squeezing out every wedding-related thought in my head, plus the residual stresses brought on by Black Swan that I still haven’t had time to deal with emotionally. But after that! Ohhh, that’s where the real fun was.
I relished the tiny macarons and champagne that my own personal attendant brought to me in the lounge. And I felt like Francis in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure when I was the only person in a pool-sized hot tub. And I was totally naked in there! That was actually encouraged. I would never voluntarily and confidently walk around anywhere naked, except for Jones Beach but that’s another story that I don’t even have time for right now, but seeing as the only other person in the spa was the attendant and she could care less, I went for it. I mean, of course I had like 4 towels at the ready justincase someone walked in and joined me and I had to make a hasty exit while covering all my major parts. OF COURSE I did. I’m still me. As I sat in the giant essential-oil-infused hot tub (nay, “Aqua Grotto”) trying to relax, of COURSE the only thing I could think of was how to gracefully, nakedly ascend the steps to get out should anyone else come in. But apparently when the Mayor declares a snow emergency, no one else in the city is much in the mood for relaxation, so I was in the clear. (I should note that the spa has a ladies-only side and a men-only side, so for all I know, there was a pool party going on over on the boys’ side.)
After the Aqua Grotto, I figured I’d head over to the dry sauna because why the hell not. Who else would be using it? After walking in, poking a room temperature hibachi filled with rocks with an empty ladle meant to pour water over it and not knowing how to turn anything on, I exited. Defeated. Because if there’s anything more embarrassing than being naked in front of others, it’s not knowing how to turn on the dry sauna. If I was actually rich, I’d be ashamed.
Now, even when I’m getting a heavily discounted spa treatment, my mind is constantly racing for ways to take advantage of what I’m getting. Are there free samples of things lying around? Can I take a shower there using the fancy spa products? Can I have that bottled water? So don’t think I just enjoyed my naked treatments and then went home like a normal, decent human being. After I got dressed (and yes, there was a shower, but I opted out), I took the lite absorbency tampon that was rightfully mine from the lady-business bowl in the bathroom and headed to the real treasure: the food table. In addition to the macarons, there were these sesame-crusted salty caramels that I hoarded like a chipmunk preparing for winter before my massage. I looked left. I looked right. And when I was convinced I was alone, I pocketed three of them, plus a macaron. And then I took an apple. Come on, who doesn’t take an apple from the spa? Like you’re really going to eat the apple there?
As I made my way out, I realized my apple was crushing the macaron. I raced to the train like a criminal making her getaway, rearranged the stolen food in my bag, furiously tried to brush the macaron crumbs out of my cute purse and onto the subway platform, and waited for the jam-packed train to come and start my stress cycle all over again. Just like a real rich person would do.
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