What could be more soothing than being turned into a big, fluffy snow leopard? After all, cats are very good at relaxing. Explicit.
The receptionist swings the door open, then steps to the side with a gentle smile. "You'll be right through here," she says. "You'll want to take off your clothes. You can use the towel to cover up."
I've never had a massage before. Never been to a spa before either, but I got that gift certificate, and the way work's been lately, a full-day relaxation treatment is hard to pass up. I give the receptionist a shy grin. "Is that...should I take off my underwear too?"
She's probably gotten that question a ton. She shrugs and says, "Up to you, sir. Just lie down and ring the bell when you're ready."
I step into the room. She swings the door shut behind me. It's not a large room, but it's spacious. A thickly padded massage table sits in the middle, with plenty of room to move around it. The walls and cabinets are a deep, peaceful red. There's speakers in the corners playing a soft loop of natural white noise, wind rustling through leaves, birds chirruping, that sort of thing
There's a changing screen in the corner, so I step behind it and peel off my clothes. I want to be polite, so I fold up my shirt and pants and set them on the stool behind the screen. Then, after a bit of debate, I take off my underwear too, and tuck it between my other clothes. Before I step out again, I tug down the towel that's hung over the screen and wrap it around my waist.
I hop up onto the table, sit down with my legs over the side, and glance down at the brass bell sitting next to the headrest. Ringing a bell to make someone come feels weirdly posh, but if that's this spa's thing, I don't want to make it awkward. I pick up the bell and give it a loud ring.
A considerate couple of seconds later, the door swings open, and in come two women with short, dark hair and burgundy scrubs. "Hello, sir," says the more confident-looking of the two. "We'll be your masseuses today. If you would, please lie down on your back."
"Sure," I say. I turn around on the table, scoot in toward the center, then stretch out until the back of my head rests against the donut cushion at the top.
"Is this your first time getting a massage?" she asks.
"That obvious?" I say.