So I know many of you have been holding your breath to find out the super reward I got for surviving the 11-day diet. You may now breathe. While it would be characteristic of me, it would also be counter productive to have a big fat edible treat like a banana split or chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake. Luckily, I already had something else lined up.
Let me back up. On Valentine's Day Ed and I went out to dinner. While we were waiting for the check I went to the ladies' room, and when I came back it looked like we were ready to go. But he was stalling, making idle chatter even though the check was paid. I figured he was waiting for something, so I went along and chit-chatted until it was kind of ridiculous. If we had been dating I would immediately suspect some kind of engagement ring dessert or something equally sneaky, but what could it be? He knew I was suspicious so he said, "Just wait a minute, I'm just waiting for something." Fine, so we talked some more and finally he gave up and said, "Well I was waiting for them to clear our plates but just go ahead and look under yours."
I did. And do you know what was there? An envelope. And inside the envelope was a gift certificate to Yvonne Salon in Alexandria. I can see that means nothing to you. But if you think back very carefully to July you might remember a blog post here about the salon that offers fish pedicures. And that salon is Yvonne.
Somebody was really paying attention. I was super surprised he had thought of that, since I hadn't mentioned it in awhile. But I had kept it on my radar, thinking I'll go do it "someday."
"Someday" came on Day 12 after the diet. I took Hazel to school and Mom came over to watch Ginger. I drove down to the salon, about 1/2 hour away. It looks like any other salon, in a small strip mall on a major street. In front are hair stations and some manicure desks. In back are about 6 pedicure chairs, and along one wall is a padded bench with four individual fish tanks below. It was clean, modern, comfortable. I was offered something to drink and immediately whisked into the way back for my massage. (Ed had gotten me a massage/fish pedicure/manicure package.) Along with deep tissue, hot stone and hot towel treatment, I got a fascinating partial life story of my Vietnamese masseuse Kim. Then I was off to the fish tanks. I climbed on the bench and stuck my feet in. The little fishies went swarming around and the light but persistent patter of their little mouths and bodies kind of felt like the electrical stim you get at physical therapy, or like vibrating. It was strange but never painful, and then I got used to it. Down at the last tank was the owner, John Ho, showing a woman with a notepad and man with a camera how they empty, sanitize and refill the tanks. Then he told them they would soon be offering doctor fish manicures. He told them to each stick one hand in the tank for five minutes and then compare the fished hand to the other. They oohed at the difference. The woman came over to me and asked if she could ask me about my experience.
"Are you a journalist?" I asked. She was a freelance writer doing a piece for Orion Magazine, and asked me what I thought of the fish pedicure and some other things. I'm pretty sure I made an idiot of myself because I was so relaxed from my massage and not sure what to say, but she did get my name and blog address since I told her I would write about it.
On the wall were enormous framed photographs of Mr. Ho on the Today show, Good Morning America, The View, etc. He said he was going up to do a spot on MTV in March. He seemed very devoted and proud of his operation, rightly so, and also eager and willing to spread the word, so I took a leap. I asked if he'd donate to my daughter's school fundraiser silent auction in June, and he said absolutely. He loves to be generous and get his name out, so it is a win-win situation. A few weeks later he sent me a gift certificate for a Dr. Fish Ocean Spa Pedicure, a $70 value. Generous indeed.
After the fish had eaten my dead skin away, they moved me over to a regular pedicure chair to finish the job. But upon second glance it was not a regular pedicure chair but a super duper hard core massaging chair, which Kim turned on for me, and I slumped like a jellyfish in numb, drooling silence for the rest of my appointment which included hot mitt oil treatment for my hands, loofahing, filing, moisturizing and of course painting of my finger and toe nails. There was a couple in their mid-twenties there getting deluxe pedicures for their anniversary. It occurred to me that a gift certificate to this salon is the perfect gift for anyone for any occasion.
I realized that after that kind of treatment I should have brought a designated driver, but I stopped halfway home to refuel - real food! - at Chipotle, so I did make it home safely. When I walked in the house smelled of warm bread - Mom had made loaves of cinnamon swirl bread with the girls.
It was pretty much the most perfect day ever.