“Preferences aren’t at all understood,” a visiting scientist told me, causing me to raise an eyebrow in response. “Let’s say you go shopping and you need lipstick.”
“I wear lip gloss,” I offered.
“But when you picked it, you probably could have listed reasons for doing so,” he paused and I nodded. “But you made that up after you had it in your hand. Something triggered you to look at it and decide you wanted it – the packaging, smell, shape – and that process isn’t very well understood.” Thinking I’d heard that from someone else so there was a chance it could be true, I shrugged and moved on with my life.
I sighed happily after work, deciding that I didn’t care what triggered my pleasure in this experience. I’d checked in and tucked my clothes in a locker, slipping into a borrowed robe instead. I shuffled out to the lounge in fuzzy slippers, looking with curiosity at the large silver bowl filled with sudsy water.
“We offer all our massage clients foot soaks,” my therapist said, kneeling in front of me. I obediently removed my slippers and submerged my achy feet. I wiggled my toes in the hot water and relaxed into my chair before leaning to sip from my goblet of cool water. I considered the magazines artfully arranged within easy reach of my position, but opted to stare into the fireplace, losing any sort of focus as the flames flickered. There were hundreds of tiny tiles covering the walls in soft shades of blue and green. They caught the soft light filling the room and reflected bits of it, turning everything soft and pretty.
“Oh,” I smiled sheepishly, not having noticed my therapist return long minutes later. “Hi.” I watched as she dried my feet and put the slippers back on, picked up my water glass and motioned for me to follow her. “I could have fallen asleep there and been happy,” I offered, and she smiled before telling me where to hang my robe. I nodded and waited until she left the room before placing it on a hook and wondering at how comfortable I felt being naked. Prone on a table, I smoothed my palm over luxuriously silky sheets and snuggled under a fluffy comforter. Nodding with approval, I rested my head on the rest and closed my eyes.
“I’ve had many massages,” I told the woman when she entered again, “but this is already quite wonderful.”
“I haven’t even started yet,” she said and adjusted the lights and music before crossing the room. “These will be warm,” she warned and placed smooth, heavy objects in the middle of my back, having moved the soft sheets aside. I murmured something indistinct, feeling my muscles loosen and relax. Wiggling my toes again, I sighed heavily as she began to coax tension from my ankles and arches.
Instead of outdated pop music and questionable odors of pizza and nachos and too many people of yesterday, I breathed in oil scented with mint and lavender and listened to piano and strings at perfect volume. I flipped over when instructed, wriggling a little to enjoy the sensation of warm, soft relaxation and decided that lying on a padded surface and surrounded by microfiber sheets (I asked what they were) was infinitely better than standing in line. Instead of the "rush" of racing toward the ground, I breathed deeply as she coaxed tension from my body, nearly purring with pleasure when she started to work on my scalp.
“Would you like to try our steam shower, Katie?” she asked after telling me she was finished. I blinked several times to focus and said that sounded nice, my words sounding slurred. I stretched before sitting up, almost ending up on the floor when my slippery feet touched the tile and I stood. Regaining my balance, I finished my water and wandered toward my robe and slippers. Exiting the room in search of the shower – and, eventually, my clothes – I smiled sleepily when I encountered my new favorite person again.
“This way,” she grinned and I nodded as she instructed me not to touch the steam vents.
“I’m blissed out,” I replied, “but I’m not that far gone.” I soon realized I might soon get that far gone while I removed oil from my skin with sudsy water. “Well, that’s just delightful,” I said with a smile of appreciation toward the vents that were filling the stall with fog. I wiggled my fingers at it, twirled around a couple of times and basked in the warm humidity before peeking out of the shower and going to fetch a soft towel.
I don’t care if there are valid reasons or not, I decided as I offered my gift card and left a hefty tip. I like spas better than amusement parks.