You know something, I should have suspected there was something special about The Sky when I first walked into the couple’s room with the softcore porn music playing in the background. Super classy! No wonder they call it The Sly. I didn’t know it at the time, but this was exactly what I needed to start over. This was where everything in my life was about to change.
I took a good look at my surroundings – thick, luxurious blankets on top of silky smooth sheets on top of heated massage tables that multiple animals probably gave their lives for, hand-blended signature oils probably worth more than my rent, soft candlelight lining the outline of a heart shaped hot tub that will one day set the velvety drapes on fire. Probably because of my clumsy self.
I was only supposed to stop in for a second, because my manager – and new boss – Rosa – had sent me on a wild goose chase to make sure I could find my way around. I thought it was super sweet of her to come up with this game, where I was supposed to call her once I got to the locker room, and the steam room, and the sauna, and the *brown chicken, brown cow* (pronounced: bow chicka, bow wow) “special” couple’s room. If I had only known that she made this “game” for me and only me, I may have felt differently. I may have “fallen” into the heart shaped tub of sex and sadness and pretended to hit my head so she could panic a little. Just. A. Little.
Who am I kidding? I would have still played along, whether or not it was because she thought I was slow and stupid. Or pregnant, and she wanted to test my stamina. I can never really tell what people think of me when they first meet me. My body is kind of disproportionate. Sturdy, as Rosa put it. And I talk slow. Sloooow. I didn’t even know how slow until I heard my own voicemail one day and yelled at myself for not getting to the point. I’ve also been asked if my kid was on the spectrum one day when I mentioned to a client how brilliant he was. Rich people have no filter when it comes to talking to “the help,’ which is what I guess I’m considered. But anyway, no, I’m not challenged in any way, other than socially, and neither is my son – also other than socially.
But as I was running around, trying to check everything off on my personalized scavenger hunt of shame, I ran into Sweetie. (Yes, she swears that’s her real name.) “Where can I find the steam room?” she asked me. “I’m trying to burn off the calories from this lemon water before my massage with Sidney.” She had her open robe draped around her back and shoulders, completely exposing the front of her liposuctioned body to the emptiness behind me. Not that I noticed! I was looking into her eyes!
“Well, I’m Sidney, your massage therapist. I’d be happy to show you to the steam room. But if you’d like to head into your massage early, we could do that instead.”
And here we were, back in the couple’s room with the heart tub of old, dried fluids. I couldn’t get out my spiel about the massage because she ignored me completely. I couldn’t leave the room because she was already pulling off her robe. I didn’t even have time to look away before she was on the table.
“I don’t need to be covered,” she kept insisting, “I’m always hot.” “I’m sorry, Sweetie, but there are New York laws that require you to be covered.” How many laws had we already broken, with the flashing.. and the nakedness? Was this Rosa testing me again?
We came up with the compromise (lies!) that she would only be covered with a diaper drape, which, as the name implies, only covers your crotch, really. Am I going to hell? Plot twist – am I already there?
“I just want my inner thighs worked on today. I’m soo sore right now.” Of course you are. This is a dream. I’m going to wake up any minute now and head off to my real first day at The Sky. “Absolutely, Sweetie. Would you prefer a lavender oil or a eucalyptus cream?”
For the remaining 40 minutes, I proceeded to rub lavender infused oil all over Sweetie’s inner thighs, ignoring her constant moaning and arching back. No, this is not the beginning of a porno – there are just some lines you don’t cross as a massage therapist. I can be perfectly fine rubbing scented body oils all over your naked body, but I don’t want to actually see or really touch your naked body, you know what I mean? Once you lie down, your body becomes a slab of meat and muscle and fat, and I forget you’re a person.
In between grunts and her quick self-fondles here and there, she told me all about Daddy, who was this super rich property investor. Apparently he was the one paying for this massage (with his wads of cash lying around the hotel room) because Sweetie needed to relax. Well, I guess. I wouldn’t dare admit to her that after working for five years, I still could not afford a massage with myself. But sure, I get it. Her life must be harder than it looks. I guess we’re all the same on the inside.
By the time I was done, I knew her favorite brand (Burberry), favorite perfume (Chanel), and her favorite shoe (Manolo Blahnik.) And I knew that her dad paid for all of these things regularly to make up for spending too much time with his new girlfriend, who was about five years younger than her.
As I walked her to the steam room to burn off that lemon water and wished her a fabulous day, she promised to come back and see me in a few days. Of course I didn’t believe her, but I smiled and waved as she disappeared into the fog. As I walked back to the couple’s room, I wondered if we would later find her melted body in there. Also, is it weird that I had not seen a single soul besides Rosa during the entire time I was there? Doesn’t matter. I’d soon learn that this place was full of characters, and I just wasn’t ready.