I am lying naked as a chicken fillet on a butcher’s block, on top of a large black plastic garbag, peering through a hole in the bed to a pile of pebbles artistically arranged on the floor for our entertainment. There is a strong whiff of those banana lollies we used to love as kids. Apparently I am about to be scrubbed down with lotions and potions scented with this rather sickly perfume. I have never before succumbed to a body scrub, but I have been told to relax and enjoy…
An hour later I am wrapped like a corpse in a body bag, still reeking of banana lollies, and steaming like a baking chook. Beside me is my new best friend – it’s amazing the secrets you’ll share with an almost-stranger lying naked on a slab – who is equally well encased in lotions, potions and black plastic. I am starting to feel overheated and claustrophobic. At last we are unraveled and told we can take a shower to wash off all the goo. We stumble groggily into the next room to be greeted by a large, bubbling spa bath. A little dazed, I find myself standing knee deep in the bath before reality hits: I am expected to sit in the spa, stark naked and face to face with my new Bestie, rinsing off sixteen layers of banana paste. Call me a prude but this is a little too much stark naked reality for me.
“I thought there was a shower,” I croak.
“Yes, ma’am,” nods the masseuse, reaching for a hand-held shower attachment on the wall.
“No way!” I babble, frantically. “I need a proper shower. Have you got a separate shower?”
“Yes ma’am,” says my poor masseuse, slightly confused by my reaction. I stagger out of the spa bath and down the steps to the tiled floor, where the inevitable happens. Slick, creamy feet collide with shiny, wet tiles and my body disappears suddenly from under me. Gripping desperately onto a tiny corner of my towel, I find myself spread-eagled on the floor, trying to slide my ankles together, my elbow and left bosom throbbing from their respective collisions with the steps.
The masseuse is incoherent with apologies; I am incoherent with shock and embarrassment. Somehow she drags me to my feet and propels me next door to the shower room, as I shake like a leaf, still uncertain whether I am going to laugh or cry. Instead, I sigh with relief, as she turns the tap on a proper shower and leaves me to it… and the water trickles brownly from another of those small shower attachments. I drop my towel and fiddle helplessly with various nuts and bolts, trying to transfer the water to the larger, overhead shower, but there isn’t an obvious answer. In despair I lean around the door.
“Excuse me, can someone show me how to make the shower work?”
And before I can say ‘abracadabra’ the room is full of three fully clothed masseuses and a young male workman. In slow motion I look down and realize I am in one of those popular nightmares where everyone is dressed but me. I begin to squeak like a frantic guinea pig. They all look at me in surprise, as I try to grab for the itsy-bitsy towel scrunched on the floor by their feet. Attempting to restore some dignity – pointlessly – with this tiny scrap of fabric, I gesture at the workman.
“There’s a man in here,” I squeak, stating the bleedin’ obvious. The girls look bewildered and I watch as the penny drops. They all start to giggle helplessly, including the workman.
“Is OK ma’am,” they all try to reassure me, “he’s gay!”
I find this not a jot reassuring, but the shower is running properly and my rescuers traipse out, still giggling. I emerge five minutes later, clean and shiny and still a bit shaky.
“Relaxing? Hell!” I chirp at my new Bestie, ensconced in an armchair awaiting a foot massage. “I need a Margarita!” You ladies are most welcome to your spa days, massages and body scrubs. Enjoy, indulge, relax to your heart’s content, but they are not for me, I will not succumb to such suggestions again. I’m off to the bar, where I can relax and enjoy in fully clad peace…
* Photo care of Aninuan Beach Resort, Mindoro