I love me some Groupon.
When I lived in The Woods and heard tell of this thing, I descended into a black depression because I lived in an area so remote from most Groupon deals as to make the magic genius awesomeness that is Groupon virtually useless to me.
Then we moved to an area with stuff, things, commerce. And I was finally able to begin the passionate affair with Groupon that I'd been yearning for for years.
The thing is, over these years of penny-pinching (and, frankly, kind of sucking at it), I've become something of a deal hound. I am not a "couponer" in the sense that I do not use an elaborate system of binders and go to 9 stores to buy 9 things. But I do use coupons in a less aggressive way. I am also a really big fan of working various systems to optimize situations for my family. For example, our new town has a zoo. There is another, bigger zoo a couple hours away. I wanted a zoo membership, and I wanted this zoo membership to have reciprocity with the other, bigger zoo, so I could go to both zoos for free. But these two zoos don't cooperate because apparently they are technically competing with each other for visitors, so there is no reciprocal membership if you buy a membership at either of the zoos. But my goat brain figured out that if I bought a membership to an obscure zoo in Des Moines, Iowa, a zoo that I will never go to, I would get reciprocal membership to BOTH zoos in Wisconsin. So now I can go to both my zoos for free because I am a member of a zoo in Iowa. Yeah, that's the kind of stuff I do.
So Groupon is my jam. It feels like winning.
Every now and then, I like to treat myself to what I consider the most outrageously advantageous aspect of grouponing, which is the spa/personal care category. Dude. If I was independently wealthy, I'd have a spa installed in my home and a full staff of experts to mess with my business. Wrap me in seaweed, rub me with hot stones, try your best at my ungodly foot calluses, and call me Princess W. I love me some spa. As you might imagine, full-priced spa experiences are not a typical budget line item in the K household. But every once in awhile when I have gifted money from my birthday or Christmas, I'll roll the magical Groupon dice and get myself a 1-hour massage for $25 from Groupon. And feel like I'm winning.
So I recently had a birthday and decided to do this very thing. I was pumped. It had been awhile.
I went for my massage on Tuesday. I drove to an area of town I've never been to before, and to be honest, the neighborhood was a little sketchy. I finally found the place and it was a weird stucco building painted baby-poop mustard brownyellow, and then there was awful ivy stenciled underneath all the windows. I pressed on.
I entered the "Wellness Center" and found myself in bizarro world. There was a kind-looking older lady with absurdly bleached blond hair manning the desk. She said, "Oh, she's not here yet. Have a seat." This was for a massage scheduled for 6 p.m., but my massage therapist was strangely MIA. The room was a mix of mid-nineties tacky decor (bad fake floral, ribbons, bows, teddy bear-themed art) and new age hippie wellness stuff, like foot reflexology posters and advertisements for wellness-related products. And then there was also a touch of depressing waiting room with a burbly water cooler and too-structured uncomfortable chairs. Also, there was a little kitchen table with weird snacks set up on it. Little styrofoam bowls filled with sweet cherries, dried out mini carrots, and pretzels. So flippin' weird.
So I'm sitting there, and all of a sudden the door blasts open and this utterly enormous man walks in carrying two pizza boxes from a local pizza place. I feel really guilty describing this man physically because I am not trying to be mean and I am very much not on board with fat shaming, but I need you to know that his size was exceptional. I need you to know this because the woman behind the desk kept referring to him as "Little Boy." I just don't even know.
So Little Boy is followed into the place by this middle-aged woman who, from a style perspective, was very much celebrating 1993. Except that she was covered in henna. They set up the pizzas by the styrofoam bowls of snacks. Henna '93 asks Little Boy what kind of pizzas they are, and he says, "Ah, they're the same." Apparently this was enough information, and they started eating.
So Henna '93 starts making conversation with Little Boy. They start by discussing some convention that Little Boy is attending in Las Vegas in the near future. He will be traveling by bus. He is going early so he can "gamble and do some other stuff." They discuss the perils of bus travel. I note that it is 6:15.
At this point, Blondie calls the massage therapist to inquire about her whereabouts. She gets off the phone and tells me the lady is stuck in traffic and it should only be a few minutes. Then she calls the person with an appointment after me and tells them to come later because they are "running behind." I snort.
Now it is Henna '93's chance to talk. She starts to tell a story about how she and a friend were hiking in a nearby natural wonderland. It was gorgeous. The foliage was glistening. All of a sudden, this enormous flock of butterflies comes out of nowhere, and they were the most beautiful butterflies she had ever seen. Different than any other butterflies she had ever seen in her life. (Here, she describes them in detail, but I'll spare you.) So it seemed to her that these butterflies were leading her somewhere, so she followed them. (At this point, Blondie says, "You just don't see butterflies anymore.") The butterflies led her to this clearing, where Henna '93's eyes landed on this most amazing beautiful rock. Henna '93 was moved to tears by the beauty of the rock, and her traveling companion said to her, "This is obviously a gift left here for you from Gaia, Mother Earth. The butterflies led you to it." She then expounded upon this blessed gift, reached into her bag, and produced the actual rock in question. Little Boy and Blondie ooh'd and aah'd over the thing forever, and then Blondie brought it over for me to examine. I was dying at this point, and I just said, "That's a nice rock." Then Henna '93 started to discuss the characteristics of the rock and point out how it looked like there was a division down the middle of the rock, and that was clearly also specifically for her because she is "very into sacred geometry."
Ok, look. If this sort of thing is your jam, I am really sorry. I'm not trying to bag on this woman's beliefs. But the disparity between her appearance, the appearance of this "Wellness Center," and the fervent proclamations coming out of her pizza-chomping pie hole just had me smack dab in the middle of the Theatre of the Absurd.
Then Blondie, sensing my increasing impatience, thoughtfully chose to pacify me with a brochure on her center's offerings. She brought over her graphic design crime of the century brochure, and enthusiastically handed it to me so I could see all the amazing opportunities. It included neat stuff like intuitive readings and an invitation to connect with my loved ones in the beyond. Also Zumba.
I politely perused it for what I deemed an acceptable amount of time and returned it to her brochure stand, kindly stating that I didn't want to waste a copy of her materials.
At this point, my massage therapist busted through the door, sweating, panting, and smelling vaguely of cigarette smoke. And then she screamed, "I FINALLY FIGURED OUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THERE'S AN ACCIDENT IN A ROUNDABOUT!!! EVERYONE JUST SITS THERE!!!" At this point, should someone have taken my vitals, they would have found none.
So she hauls me back into the massage room with extreme haste, glances at my medical history, asks a quick question about my previous back surgery, and then asks if I want an abdominal massage. I kind of stared at her slack-jawed, and she said, "It's really good if you have Women's Health issues, but it's really bad if you have Irritable Bowel Sydrome or Crohn's. Then it can cause a lot of dumping." And with this, she makes a gesture with her hands that approximates a sign for a person shitting themselves blind. I said, "Well, ah, my calves are really tight, so I guess I'd rather you focus any extra time on them if you can."
I then disrobe, and before I'm even under the sheet she's banging on the door. She came back in and starts massaging me with the most frenetic pace I've ever encountered. And I've had a lot of massages. When my back was super jacked up back in the day, I went to a massage school for cut-rate massages all the time. This woman was the Energizer Bunny of massage. It was bizarre.
Now here, for the purposes of my story, it would be great if I could continue to tell you about how bad this massage was. Unfortunately, I can't. Her technique, while decidedly cocaine-fueled and not even remotely relaxing, was actually freakishly effective at loosening my muscles. So I can't complain too terribly much.
But I do have one more gem for you.
As she's massaging my naked ass, she mentions that this massage business is her retirement plan, as she's retiring from her job of 25 years in September. Making conversation, I ask her what her full-time job is.
She tells me.
I gasp. I gag. I try not to flex my over-exposed glute in an offensive way.
The woman is my husband's employee.
May God have mercy on my soul.
My ass is literally being rubbed, in Crazy Town, by my husband's employee.
Does this kind of shit even happen to other people???
I didn't know what to do. I mean, my last name is kind of weird and she'd obviously recognize it once she settled down and looked at my paperwork after the massage and I felt I needed to fess up. So I just said, "Oh, that's nice. My husband is the Blah Blah Blah there." She paused, knowing that I had just casually said my husband was her boss's boss's boss's boss, and said, "Oh, I've never met him. I usually work nights."
She proceeded with the glute work.
I questioned the wisdom of discount services involving my own nudity.