Rocks are masculine, right?

Even though the purpose of this trip to California was mostly work, the bride and I took shameless advantage of the critter's grandparents being here and headed off for a couple of days of kid-free Monterey time. Don't look at me that way. They miss her. She misses them. We miss naked time. Everybody wins.

In a former life, I had lived for almost two years in Monterey, and it's always been a favorite place of ours. So we spent our days kayaking and going to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and generally enjoying the luxurious freedom of not having to entertain a talking raccoon or worry about someone elses bowel movements for a few hours.

For years now, my bride has been telling me how wonderful 'spa days' are, and that guys really don't know what they're missing. So when I booked a massage and aroma-scrub for her as a special treat, I figured I'd book myself for something too. I spent at least 3 minutes looking at the options before selecting the 'warm riverstone massage.' That sounded suitably masculine. I mean, yeah, it's a massage, but it involves rocks, right? How girly can it be?

So I call up and make the reservations. 'One aroma-scrub facial body rub for my bride, and one rock massage for me.' 'Warm riverstone it is, sir. Do you have a preference of male or female therapist?' 'Female. From your used-to-work-at-Hooters division.' I could actually hear the woman rolling her eyes.

We booked it for after our sea-kayak excursion, figuring we'd get the most relaxation for our buck that way. We were seated and offered our choice of herbal teas picked by ancient Chinese nuns or spring water. I chose the water. My bride was escorted back first by a pleasant young woman, and about 5 minutes later, a cute little lady in her 20s came out and introduced herself as Andria, my massage therapist. She was about 4'10 and couldn't have weighed a hundred pounds.

She escorts me back to the massage room, and says, 'have you ever had the riverstone massage before?' Perhaps I should have been alarmed at the light in her eyes when I said no, but I listened politely as she told me that it is a wonderfully relaxing treatment, she's sure I'll enjoy it, and oh, by the way, please let me know if at any point the stones are a 'little too hot'.

Soon I was completely disrobed and face down under the sheets, and she came back in the room and proceeded to cook me like a campfire chicken, putting stones warm enough to boil a stew on my joints and, from the feel of it, using a special massage-therapist flying elbow drop to relax my muscles. I'm convinced she also put the stones in her pockets as she worked: no way could a woman so tiny have that kind of stopping force. All this set to the soundtrack of the Dalai Lama's top 10 music countdown.

At the end, she leaned down and said quietly 'I'm finished, but I want you to stay still and enjoy the relaxation and hot stones for as long as you would like. And when you get up, you'll find a towel on the table to wipe away your tears.'

My bride came out glowing and relaxed and met me at the pub next door.

'Did you have a good time?'
'Can't. Move.'
'Oh! It's so relaxing isn't it? I bet those stones were neat.'

All kidding aside, it was a good experience, even if I was a little unprepared. Anybody stopping through Monterey should go see them. Ask for Andria. Just tell her to go easy with the rocks.