Our fellow vacationer raved about the oceanfront massages, not that I needed a hard sell. My wife and I were at an all-inclusive, topical island resort, and I couldn't imagine any service it provided being so awful that it couldn't be fixed by a few prepaid rum concoctions at the poolside bar.
However, I should have remembered the one other time we received a glowing recommendation about a vacation spa service. That occurred in the northern California wine country and it left me with these two pieces of wisdom:
"Mud bath" is code for "steeping in a steaming pile of peat moss."
Complete removal of said peat moss from every nook and cranny of your being requires a power washer, stiff-bristle brush, rubber gloves, "easy glide" dental floss and half a case of cellar-chilled pinot noir.
When I arrived at the resort spa, the hostess told me to go to the locker room, shower, put on underwear and a robe then proceed to the waiting area. This brought about Issue No. 1: I was going commando.
Before you imagine me twirling on a brass pole, know that I was "au naturel" because I arrived fresh from the beach in swim trunks. This wearing underwear for a massage, I deduced, must be some sort of local health-code requirement even if it didn't make much sense given the resort's open-air dining hall featured tropical birds, stuffed with pilfered croissants and fresh-cut mangos, that regularly carpet bombed guests lined up at the omelet station.
However, as I said, this place was all-inclusive. In my locker, I found a plastic pouch as big as a travel-size pack of disposable tissue. An apt simile, you see, because when I popped it open, I discovered a paper thong. Pink, at that, and thin enough to read the box scores through.
With my hindquarters a quarter covered, I tightly wrapped my buffet-enhanced caboose in a robe and moved to the waiting area. In a couple of minutes, in walked my masseuse, motioning me toward the beachfront massage tents. She motioned because of Issue No. 2: My masseuse, Ramona, spoke virtually no English.
"¿Hablas español?" Ramona asked, in a tone closer to begging. Luckily, I had three years of high school Spanish and, unfortunately, 25 years to forget it.
"Si," I answered. "Una mas cerveza, por favor, bonita seniorita."
My request for one more beer got a laugh, followed by a lesson from her in how to say the same thing in, of all languages, Italian. Proof the universal language is not love, but alcohol.
In the tent, she pantomimed for me to take off my robe and lay under the towel spread across the massage table. She stepped back out so I could do this in private, which was good except for Issue No. 3: The tent completely lacked one wall.
The wall that faced the ocean. And the beach. And two dozen adults and children -- all of whom looked up in unison just in time to see my southern exposure. I'm hoping those were only seagulls I heard screaming.
I dived under the towel, buried my face into the doughnut pillow and hyperventilated until Ramona's return. When she did, she proceeded to pull my towel down just far enough so I could enjoy the warm Dominican winds blowing through the palm trees and across the hills of my now fully displayed posterior.
Rather than painfully detailing the next 50 minutes, I'll sum it up thusly: Shortly afterward, I had a long, meaningful poolside relationship with a dozen lemon daiquiris.
Stamford native and resident Kevin McKeever is a freelance writer. He blogs at AlwaysHomeAndUncool.com, tweets at twitter.com/HomeAndUncool and emails at email@example.com.