I am wearing a white robe and sipping tea in the Relaxation Room, waiting for a spa therapist to call my name.
I have come to the Glacial Waters Spa in Nisswa, Minn., because that's what 50-year-old women on vacation do while their husbands play golf. At least, that's what I surmise from the number of middle-aged ladies sitting around munching carrots and not playing golf.
This is my first real spa experience, and though the waiting room is designed to calm body, mind and soul with its overstuffed chairs, river rock fireplace and flute-y piped-in music (not to mention the brass sign on the door that says "Relaxation Room," as if to say, "If you can't relax here, you're a lost cause, loser"), I am shaking in my green rubber shower thongs.
I have signed up for a Rosemary Mint Awakening Wrap because the brochure promised a peppermint-infused "journey" of skin exfoliation and moisture restoration followed by a scalp and foot massage. And that last item sealed the deal because I'd "journey" anywhere for a good foot rub.
Still, I am anything but relaxed. There are too many unknowns; too many questions. My inner monologue goes into overdrive:
"Who will my spa therapist be? Male or female? In what manner will I be wrapped, exactly - Egyptian mummy or Alaskan salmon? What percentage of my naked body will be exposed at any given moment during the next hour? Where's the fire escape? How much does this cost, again?"
Suddenly, I am paged by a cheerful and (thankfully) female voice. I stand up, clutch my robe closed and call, "Here!" like it's roll call in fourth grade.
My spa therapist's name is Chloe. She walks me down the candlelit corridor while my inner voice narrates: "Nice woodwork. Where did they get those sconces? What is that fragrance? Chloe's a cute name. Wonder what it takes to be a spa therapist? Why does she have to be so skinny? Hope she's in a good mood. What if she just got dumped by her boyfriend and is dying to unleash her anger on some unsuspecting spa virgin? How much does this cost, again?"
We enter the treatment room, and Chloe briefs me on what is about to happen, answering none of my unspoken questions. She exits quickly and, as ordered, I ditch the robe and climb onto the table, under the sheet and belly up.
She re-enters the room and commences the treatment, sloughing off dead skin from all over my body with rapid, firm strokes. I make a concerted effort to be calm, but the little voice in my head will have none of it:
"Wow. This kind of hurts. But in a good way. Nope, it really hurts! Okay, just relax. Oh, no! She's sloughing my thighs! God only knows what she must be thinking. Surely she's seen worse. For crying out loud, who cares? C'mon, re-laaaax. Why am I flashing on Lucy and Ethel? What if these are the worse thighs she's ever sloughed in her life? Is she trying not to laugh? Biting her tongue until she can run back to the break room and tell all her spa therapist pals about the lady with the thighs? I can hear her now, 'And that cellulite! I'm going to demand combat pay!' What do I care? I'll never see her again. Especially if I don't open my eyes until she leaves. Ohmmmmm. Relax. And, besides, I deserve this! I'm a decade late to the self-pampering party. It's my time, darn it! Now, relax!! Ohmmmmm. What is this music? Is that a flute or a recorder? What ever happened to Enya? Relax this instant!!! When does the foot rub start? How much does this cost, again?..."
And so it goes until, finally, the foot rub finale is over. Chloe invites me to re-robe and return to the Relaxation Room for yogurt and refreshments. I pad down the hall, grab a Yoplait and a glass of water and collapse into a cushy chaise by the fireplace. Suddenly, miraculously, I achieve relaxation. My head noise goes mute. My muscles slacken. I close my eyes and drift into a blissful state of repose.
Then, out of the corner of my consciousness, I hear the voice of a woman across the room: "That was sheer heaven. And worth every penny of the hundred and fifteen dollars."
I bolt up in my chair, water and yogurt flying everywhere. My inner voice screams, "How much does this cost, again?"