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By Michael Hainey

New York Times bestselling author and guest Treat contributor


Just about once a week for the past 18 months of lockdown, all I’ve heard from my wife is, "First thing I’m going to do when this is all over is book a massage. Wouldn’t you kill for one right now?"

By now, though, she’s gotten used to my usual response: “Hmmm. No.” Mr. Electricity, I am not. Another thing I am not? Mr. Spa. 

Like many people, she loves nothing more than the whole “spa thing” as I call it: thick robes, lemon-cucumber water, Enya droning away on the sound system, candles, candles and more candles.

Know what that sounds like to me? Torture. 

After a year and a half of social distancing, you know what I’d rather do than allow a stranger to touch me? Push my way onto a crowded downtown #1 local on the New York City subway and stand inches from some hairy guy’s sweaty neck. It’s true. Packed into a subway car? Fine with me. But someone rubbing oils on me? That makes me want to pull the emergency brake. 

Hello, my name is Michael, and I am spa-averse.

Some years ago, a friend of mine who was a magazine editor in New York suggested an idea he was sure would cure me of my inability to embrace spas – as well as my inability to be embraced by a masseuse: a couple’s weekend with my wife. So, off Brooke and I went to a five-star luxury resort in the leafy hills of California, north of Los Angeles, that I know spa-heads would kill to experience if I told you the name. I’m sorry to say, however, it was entirely wasted on me.

The day we got there, Brooke signed us up for the couple’s massage. What better way to try to understand her love of massage than to share it?

At this point, I’ll let her tell the story: “I will never forget the moment when they had us roll over onto our backs. I am in perfect bliss. But I look over at Michael and what do I see? There he is, eyes wide open, staring at the ceiling, looking like someone was about to electrocute him.”

It’s true. But what she left out was this: As I was laying there, some big Helga kept telling me, over and over, that I needed to relax.

"You need to take deep breaths,” she kept saying. “Breathe!"

I snapped back, "I can’t! You’ve got me so stressed out, trying to relax, that I’m a bundle of nerves."

Brooke looked over at me, rolled her eyes and shook her head.  

But the weekend wasn’t an entire washout. Brooke got the spa dream weekend she had been craving and, on the way back to LAX, I made a stop at the drive-thru window of the In-N-Out Burger.

Maybe one day I’ll find my bliss. Until then … namaste?

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