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Contributor Mary Lou Weisman has been known to brag a little about her liberated marriage. Her husband Larry cooks half their meals and even LIKES washing dishes; she can change a tire and set the VCR. But travel has a way of reopening the gender wars - like the time she organized a trip to a health spa. As she writes in this postcard, the vacation did not get off to a healthy start.

Postcard: Spa Humbug!

by Mary Lou Weisman (5/11/2001)

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He ate a hot dog in the Detroit airport and two more when we landed in San Diego. On the bus ride across the border to the spa, he spotted a sign: Carniceria Y Abaprote - "butcher and groceries." He got the driver to stop and emerged moments later eating from a giant bag of Cheetos. "And look!" he added, orange dust still clinging to his lips, "a Mway-bla-RI-a!" Telling him that he was salivating over a furniture store was the only fun I had that day.

He would go to Rancho La Puerta, this vegetarian, aerobic, calorie-counting mountain spa, but he would act like a baby the whole time. Swell! This meant that I would feel like his mother the whole time.

"Going to spas is a "girl thing," he whined. "You have to wear tights for yoga."

"No you don't," I defended. "You can wear a sweat suit. But you might enjoy wearing tights. They make you feel so stretchy and catlike."

"If I want to feel catlike, I'll get a litter box," he answered.

It wasn't just the idea of exercising that made him rant. He also could not bear the thought of eating a saltless vegetarian diet for a week: "If I want fiber, I'll chew on a rope."

But once we got there, group pressure, his natural curiosity, and the bitter knowledge that he had paid for it anyway began to transform him. He attended his first yoga class. He could not have failed to notice that he was the strongest, thinnest, best-looking man in the room. Or that he had the most hair. Or that he was the only one who could do the yoga headstand. Nor did it hurt when Michele, the instructor, her buns vivid in neon spandex, asked him if he was a yogi. And I don't think he could have been totally unmoved by the fact that there were a lot of attractive women dragging their mats across the floor to be near him. "You're lucky," on of the nervier ones told me. "Your husband has a wonderful body."

The Spa King's enthusiasm grew the closer he came to being able to touch his toes without bending his knees. He, who had never studied Spanish, was greeting the Mexican gardeners with a hearty "Buenos dias!" as he sprinted from Morning Stretch Intermediate to Body Toning Intense. Suddenly he knew from "abs" and "glutes."

I should have been happy, but I wasn't. First of all, I was sore. And second of all, he was too happy. He was going to classes all day and nothing hurt. "Michele says not to strain," he advised me, the perverse traitor. "Just breathe into the place." And third of all, I'm the one who's supposed to be good at this. I'm the one who has worked out for years. I'm the one who can put her head on her knees and put her hand on the bottom of her foot and straighten her leg like a ballet dancer. I'm the one with the tights. I'm the girl!

And fourth of all, I was hungry.

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