Let me just say my husband is a genius.  Don’t tell him I said so, but it’s true.  He would say it was about time I realized this.  The truth is, I’ve always realized it.  I just don’t want him to get a big head.

The reason I think he is a genius right now is because I’m in a resort in St. Lucia.  You see, while I’m the one who managed to get this job, he’s the one who pushed me.  Twenty years ago, I saw an ad in the newspaper that said, “Become a mystery shopper,” and I responded.  Of course, when I got the information in the mail, it said to send $25 to get the real information.  With that, I was disappointed, but I planned to throw the packet away.  My parents had taught me a long time ago that you don’t pay to work.  It just doesn’t make sense.

So, when Mr. Everything got home from work, I told him how disappointed I was about the mystery shopping info.  I told him they wanted $25 so I was ditching that idea.  He said, “Do it.”  I told him that was crazy because they were just going to take our money.  He shrugged and said, “We’ve wasted $25 on dumber things.  Take the chance.”  So I did!

I sent away for the info, and I received a list of about ten mystery shopping companies.  I had to send in a handwriting sample and a sample paragraph so they could tell that I could write complete sentences and they could read what I wrote.  We’ll just call that “back in the day.”

Now, mystery shopping companies would laugh at you if you hand wrote anything.  Everything has to be submitted online and receipts have to be uploaded.  There is no faxing or mailing in forms anymore.  Boy, things have changed in 20 years.

I often think, though, if Mr. E had not convinced me to take a chance, I would have missed out on so much!  We’ve been to amazing restaurants, great hotels and even all inclusive resorts because of that $25 chance.  He really was smart to let me take the gamble.

(Now, let me just say, with the internet, you should never, ever pay for a list of mystery shopping companies.  If you want to get started, read my blogs HERE and HERE for free, and you’ll learn what you need to know.  If you just feel the need to pay someone for the information, I accept cash, check or Paypal.  You can send me any amount you want.)

Because of Mr. E’s willingness to take a $25 chance, we got to visit a resort in St. Lucia.  I’m pretty sure this is the best resort ever, or at least, it’s the best one I’ve ever visited!  I must admit, we’ve spent a good portion of our time avoiding the sun while we’ve been here.  Since Mr. E still can’t be out in the sun because he was burned in July, we can’t be on the beach in the middle of the day.  I’m okay with that.  I’m the freckle and burn queen anyway, so the sun and I don’t get along very well anyway.  I wasn’t sure how the trip would go since we are on a tropical island where there is usually sun.  However, we’ve found plenty to do while we’ve been here.

We visited the spa the other day.  There were no massages involved, so it was great.  This resort has a complimentary area of the spa.  (As the saying goes…If it’s free, it’s for me!)  This area includes a Jacuzzi and plunge pool that are both shaded by a gazebo.  There were also saunas and steam rooms, but we discovered quickly that sitting in either one was boring and hot.  The plunge pool was way too cold for our Floridian blood, but the Jacuzzi was just right.  We sat in the hot water, with the gazebo sheltering us from the sun.  There was a nice cool breeze blowing, and the palm fronds were rattling in the wind.  As we sat there, I thought, “It just doesn’t get any better than this.”  I was wrong.  It does get better.

We also found a pier that was out over the water.  At night, it was so peaceful to sit out there on the comfortable couches.  There was a fire pit nearby if we got cool in the night air.  It was wonderful just to sit out there and look at the stars and listen to the waves.  As I sat there, I though, “It can’t get any better than this.”  I was wrong.  It did get better.

The resort had catamarans that could be taken out into the water.  They are easy to operate and fun to ride on.  Mr. E, of course, had no problem controlling the boat, because he’s Mr. E.  He knows how to do everything, remember?  So, we took the boat out and sailed away into the sunset.  Okay.  Really, it was in the middle of the day, but still - you get the point.  The sky was cloudy, and while the other resort guests were probably disappointed about that, we were thrilled!  It meant we could go outside without risking more damage to my husband’s pretty face.  So, as we sailed, I thought, “This is as good as it gets.”  I was wrong.  It got better.

We discovered a part of the resort that we referred to as “Old People Island.”  We fit right in.  See, at the main pool, the atmosphere was lively.  The music was pumping and people were sunbathing, swimming, etc.  It was fun, but you couldn’t hear the water.  At Old People Island, the beach was far enough from the action of the main pool that we could hear the water.  We could hear the birds chirping.  We found a tiki covering with two chairs underneath, and we lounged.  As I avoided the sun in the shade, I thought, “It just doesn’t get any better.”  I was wrong.  Boy, did it get better.

Near Old People Island, we found a pool for old people.  Well, it wasn’t really for old people, but that was who was there.  It was so serene, and there was no music playing.  It was wonderful.  As I floated in the pool, I thought, “I’m cold.”  I was right.  I was cold, not because it was cold outside, but because I’m a wimpy Floridian.  We got out of the pool to warm up.

We found another perfect hang out.  In the ocean were floats that were somehow anchored to the ground.  I called them spots, because they were round and, well, they looked like spots.  (I’m creative, aren’t I?)  On a cloudy day, we finally got a chance to swim out to a spot.  When we climbed in, we found an oasis in the sea!  In the spot, we were in the ocean and could feel the waves.  However, we were anchored down and didn’t have to worry about floating away.  It was wonderful, and I didn’t have to worry about anything biting my butt or toes.  I loved the spot, until I got cold.  I always get cold.

We went back to Old People Island and visited the Jacuzzi by the pool.  In the Jacuzzi, we could be in the hot water and see the beautiful pool and amazing beach.  As I warmed in the Jacuzzi, I thought, “Now, I’ve seen the best.  It can’t get any better.”  I was wrong.  It did.

We found a hammock that was shaded by a tiki covering.  We visited this hammock several times during our trip.  It was wonderful.  We just talked and swayed in the hammock.  We also were quiet and listened to the birds.  Our view was of a palm tree and the beautiful blue sky.  As we enjoyed the hammock, I thought, “I have found the perfect place.”  I was right.  St. Lucia was, indeed, the perfect place. -Al

I wanted to be sure and thank my mother and my friends who watched after the Beetle and the Goose while we were gone.  I was nervous about leaving the country without my little ducklings.  Thank you, thank you, thank you to Mama and all those who kept them happy, fed and safe!  I deeply appreciate it, and we had an awesome trip because I didn't have to worry!

So I realized something today.  I don’t like massages.  Hello.  I’m Al, and I’m 40, and I don’t like massages.  There.  The truth is out there.  I hope this has not ruined the world as you view it.  I know it’s life changing, so I’ll give you a minute to process this important bit of news.

You see, for years, I thought I liked massages.  In fact, I used to clean my friend’s house so she would massage me.  Yes, she is a licensed massage therapist, so it’s not as weird as it sounds.  Back then, I enjoyed the massages, and I didn’t even worry about being naked.  I always joked with her that she had seen my naked butt and I had seen her dirty house – We were even.

Last year in Antigua, I had the massage from you know where.  I’m pretty sure the therapist’s LMT after her name stood for “Licensed for Misery and Torment.”  You can read about that experience HERE if you so dare.  I’m not going back and reading it.  It’s too painful to relive.

So, when I had to schedule a massage here in St. Lucia, I put the Torturer out of my mind.  Instead, I remembered my friend who had friendly hands. (Still just doesn’t sound right, does it?)  This time would be better.  I just knew it.  We were walking by the spa the other day here at the resort, and two staff members were standing there.  They were obviously desperate for business at the spa, because they were trying to recruit their next victims, er, I mean clients.

The one lady, we’ll just call her “Creepy,” asked me if I had booked my massage yet.  Knowing I had to book one (had to…it’s a hard job), I told her I had not but was interested.  She told me about a special on Wednesdays when I could get 80 minutes of massage for the price of 50.  “Why not?” I thought, “I love massages.”  So, I booked with Creepy, knowing she was just the staff member who was recruiting suckers, oops, I mean, patrons.  I must admit that, while Creepy was booking my appointment, I really hoped she would not be the one doing the massage.  She had long, skinny fingers and was just creepy, thus the name.

Yesterday, the day before my 80 minute massage, I started having flashbacks to my experience in Antigua.  Then, I decided just to put that out of my head.  This one would be better.  I would be so relaxed.

So, today was the big day.  I headed to the spa and was led to the locker room.  The receptionist told me to disrobe to my comfort level.  I considered just putting the robe over my clothes but figured that would make me memorable.  I really don’t like being naked in front of other people, so shorts and a shirt were just about my comfort level.  I bit the bullet, though, and got naked.  Luckily, the robe was big enough to cover everything that needed covering.  Otherwise, I KNOW I would have been memorable.

Anywho, I walked out of the locker room and went to obediently wait where I had been told to wait.  I am, after all, nothing if not obedient.  Around the corner came my massage therapist, and it was, you guessed it, Creepy.  (Oh come on.  You had to see that one coming.) 

So, Creepy led me to a room and told me to take off my robe.  She said I could lie face down on the table and cover with the sheet.  Thank goodness I had a sheet this time instead of the little strip of towel I was given in Antigua.  “See?” I thought, “This time will be better.  You love massages, don’t you?”  I didn’t answer.

Creepy came in and started the massage.  I had told her she could spend the entire 80 minutes on my head and face if she wanted to.  Apparently, she thought I was kidding.  She started on my back.  So far, so good.  Then, she worked on my back some more.  And some more.  And some more.  She began massaging my back with her forearms and elbows.  I’m pretty sure her knee was involved there somewhere.  There are two spots on my lower back that are always tender and sore.  I pointed these out to her and told her I was pretty sure they were from being numbed while having babies.  (Two tender spots for the rest of my life are so completely worth the numbing during labor, by the way…in case you wondered.)  I think it was my mistake to point out these areas to Creepy, because I think at one point, she was digging her creepy fingers into the spots.  Actually, it felt like she was pushing down to the depths of my soul.  I thought I might have to come off the table, but there was the whole naked issue.

Speaking of naked, I was becoming more and more naked as the massage went along.  The sheet kept getting pushed down further and further.  It started at the middle of my lower back.  By the end, it was half past crack.  For a good 10 minutes, I begged this woman in my mind, “Please, Creepy, cover my butt crack.”

“How does that feel?” she said.  “Great,” I said (cover my butt.)

“Is the pressure good?”  “Sure. It’s fine.” (I’m dying here.  Cover my crack.)

“Is the temperature in the room comfortable?”  “Yep.”  (Lady, I’ll pay you five bucks to cover it up.)

“Are you enjoying this?”  “Oh yeah.” (NO!  Cover my butt!)

Finally, Creepy finished with my back and covered it up with the sheet.  The angels in heaven rejoiced.  Okay, maybe they didn’t, but I heard them in my mind anyway.

Next, Creepy started on my legs.  She started with the left side.  As she rubbed, I began to realize I was really in pain.  My legs are sensitive, and I came to realize the left one was more sensitive.  I was dying, yet I didn’t say anything.  Why?  You ask.  I have no idea, other than the fact that I thought it was about to be over.  I was wrong.

Finally, Creepy finished with my left leg and moved on to my right.  “Oh good,” I thought, “My right one won’t be so sensitive.”  As she worked I realized maybe it was the right side that was the sensitive one.  Holy cow!  This woman wanted me dead.  Still, I said nothing and just suffered in pain.  Call me a martyr.

When Creepy finished, she dug her creepy fingers into the bottoms of my feet, and I really thought I was going to kick her in the head.  I managed to control myself.

Creepy moved up to my head.  Finally.  It was time for my favorite part.  She spent 2 minutes there and then said it was time for me to roll over.  Now, for those of you who’ve never had massage, let me explain.  The rolling over is the worst part.  Here you are, naked on a table, and your back has locked up from being on your stomach for an extended period of time. The therapist holds the sheet up over her face and tells you to roll over.  It sounds all private and great, but usually, as was the case today, there is a mirror on the other side of you.  If the therapist decides to take a peek, she’ll get to see the full shebang.  Today, I chose to believe Creepy didn’t look.  I didn’t hear snickering or gagging, so I don’t think she did.

For the rest of the massage, I kept trying to find pleasant parts.  There really weren’t any.  It wasn’t that she was a bad massage therapist.  It was that I have, apparently, grown grouchy in my old age.  A good rule of thumb is, just don’t touch me, and I’ll be happy.

Now that I’ve admitted that I don’t like massages, I feel so free!  My other choice for my mystery shopping assignment when doing resorts is to have a facial.  I’ve always avoided this because facials make me break out.  However, I had about 80 minutes to think about it today, and I’ve decided it’s worth it.  At least with a facial, they spend a lot of time massaging your face and head.  That’s all I really wanted anyway!  So, next time I take a trip to a resort, if I come back looking like a walking zit, you’ll know why.  It was all to avoid the massage.  -Al