Then as now, I took great pride in telling it like it was. Exactly how moist were the towelettes? Did the shower jets tickle or sting? How well did the piped-in pan-flute complement the live mandolin? I had the spa scoop when it counted. But there was one isolated incident I never reported. For one thing, it wasn’t really review material. For another, it was spectacularly embarrassing for everyone involved. Then again, those tend to be best stories, so here goes:
Shortly after checking into Port Severn’s lovely Christie’s Mill Inn, I made my way to the 7,000-square-foot Avalon spa for my Mystical Water Ride. The brand-new treatment started off swimmingly: After stripping down and being vigorously scrubbed and slathered in warm seaweed — behind curtains that somehow maintained my modesty — I was wrapped in towels, placed on a gurney and left to marinate for about half an hour.
Next, the gurney was wheeled under the seven high-powered jets of a Vichy shower. The two female attendants unwrapped me with the greatest discretion and care, and momentarily left the room so I could cover my naughty bits with an adequate-seeming face towel. The idea was that the shower would exfoliate my skin and remove the seaweed.
But it also removed the face towel.
In my near-comatose state, I was initially oblivious to the kerfuffle this caused. I did notice that the flow of water had ceased, and out of the corner of my eye I saw one of the attendants scamper across the room to retrieve my terrycloth fig leaf. It was delicately repositioned, the shower was restarted, and the towel was again blasted to the far side of the room.
It turned into a strange kind of repetitive dance: Rearrange towel, turn on water, towel goes flying, retrieve towel. It didn’t bother me much: I’m not especially modest, and the water was warm enough to avoid the Seinfeldian shrinkage all men fear. The attendants, however, seemed mortified, even after I mumbled that I didn’t really care about the towel as long as the powerful shower jets weren't aimed at the area it was covering.
After about 15 towel retrievals the shower was over and I was quickly, and perhaps too securely, wrapped in several larger towels. I felt smooth, clean, tingly and generally wonderful. The bedraggled spa attendants, however, looked like they had been blasted with water cannons.
Shortly thereafter, I noticed that Avalon had stopped offering the "Mystical Water Ride." So I have to wonder: Was I the first, and last, Mystical Water Rider?