Better Life

Hu(man) Error: Get What You Pay For

Hu(man) Error: Get What You Pay For
Our frugal hero’s gift for his girlfriend ends up doling out more pain than pleasure.

I wanted to get my wife a couples massage for her birthday since she had hinted at the idea, but having two bodies rubbed simultaneously turned out to be a lot costlier than I realized. Instead of temporarily adjusting my budget like an adult, I allowed an insidious thought to take hold. Maybe, just maybe, I could use Groupon to score a deal for my wife’s birthday present. I know, a brilliant plan. Within minutes I was able to locate and book a nearby spa offering an hour of aromatherapy massage. They had even been featured on an MTV dating show as a romantic spot and, for reasons I still don’t understand, I interpreted this as a symbol of their legitimacy.

We arrived for the special occasion and were greeted by a remarkably sour receptionist. Might just not have been her day. After checking in we were hurried to the “Paris” room for our massage. Ooh la la. Clumps of old rose petals littered the floor and a weak scented candle burned on a small stand. And the thin walls transmitted every noise from the reception area: creaking floors, ringing phones, agitated conversation.  I didn’t have time to consider much else because two masseuses quickly barreled into the room and got right to work.

I settled in just fine, but then I started to hear the sounds from my wife’s table. An abundance of smacks and slaps followed by endless crunches and pops. There was a brief break at the halfway point so, with the masseuses safely out of the room, I asked my wife how it was going. She looked dazed and responded by saying, “It’s…good” before flashing a weak smile. The second half-hour for me was as unremarkable as the first, but the barrage of cringe-inducing sounds continued to emanate from my wife’s direction. Then in the blink of an eye we were changing back into our clothes and paying the woman out front.

Once we’d left, I asked how it went and she gave me a look, considering whether or not I could handle the truth. Then she detailed what happened. The masseuse kept crunching the small bones in my wife’s wrist. The masseuse’s elbow had been driven into my wife’s spine repeatedly. The masseuse climbed up on top of my wife, sat down, and beat her fists against my wife’s back erratically.

As she chronicled the litany of musculoskeletal offenses, I began to understand that I had sacrificed her gift at the altar of The Great Deal. In the end, the only thing I gave my wife was a literal pain in the neck. Maybe next time I’ll leave Groupon out of it. Especially now that I know a thinner wallet is better not just for my back, but also for my wife’s.