Last week, I redeemed a gift card to receive my first-ever professional massage and facial.

When I told the guys at work, they giggled like a gaggle of girls. They mocked me, “Oh yeah, Gina?”, with a smirk, “How was your facial?” I just looked at them blankly, silently protesting the sexual definitions our culture creates to taint once-innocent words…

…I digress.

My aunt had given me a giftcard for my birthday back on January 8th; but because all my days consist of work, school, or school and work, I hadn’t had the chance to use it until just last week…the 24th of April. Thankfully, the gift cards don’t expire.

It was well worth the wait. I had a glorious day. It started with two hours of pure, unadulterated relaxation. At one point, the facial lady, after asking if I was cold, said that she would physically lift my limp arms and gently place them under the blanket so I wouldn’t have to.

After it was all over and I had given the spa back their robe, changed into my own clothes and exited the Massage Envy in a haze, I took a short stroll in the 60 and sunny weather to the other end of the shopping center plaza for lunch. Amongst four generations of blonde westportees chatting about nothing, I sat alone and ate my grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and truffle oil – the one who’s picture has reached 34 likes on Instagram. I then casually sipped an iced cappuccino and not so casually delved into a fudgy magic (seven layer) bar. The ladies pretended not to see me.

It was a glorious day. But what I’ll remember most about that day was the conversation I had with a fellow dark-haired woman sitting across from me in the waiting room of the Westport Massage Envy.

Now, as a newbie, I wasn’t quite aware of proper waiting room etiquette. When she walked in, I had been sitting in the chair against the far wall and directly next to the water bottle fridge, head down and eyes glued to my phone reading Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. I was pretty engrossed, not showing any signs of movement or friendliness, except for the occasional outburst of laughter cracking through the silence.

Then, a girl from the front desk – who I recognized as one of my many Facebook friends and high school acquaintances – came by to get a water bottle from the fridge. We exchanged awkward, but genuine “hey!”s, to which I cordially continued with, “I am so looking forward to this massage.” She laughed and told me I’d enjoy it, then went back through the double doors in the hallway to the front desk.

The dark-haired middle-aged woman in a robe and slippers sitting across from me took my strange social interaction with the girl as an invitation for conversation. I can tell she’s an extrovert and wants to talk – and I’ve learned that if you come across a fellow human who needs someone to talk to, you must be that someone.

“I’m so glad you’re excited for your massage! You know, you hope that everyone who comes here is in a good mood, because it is so relaxing. But I heard you laughing on your phone so I didn’t want to bother you!”

I laughed. “Yes, I’m sorry for being anti social – I’m reading this book and it’s just so good, I can’t put it down!”

She looked surprised.
“What book?” She asked.

“Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”, I answered. “I just watched the movie last night and forgot how funny it was!” She smiles and nods her approval. I continued to blab of my love for Hunter S. Thompson and how badly this millennial generation needs their own social media + black out culture + whatever-kids-are-doing-these-days infused Gonzo journalism to capture these crazy times in which the Internet rules our lives.

Her face was beaming. “I can’t tell you how nice it is to meet a young woman with substance in Westport!”

I smiled and said, “That’s because I’m from Norwalk.”

She laughed and told me she was originally from Brooklyn, a fact made evident now that I’d heard her speak. I told her that I’m originally from Astoria; we became fast friends. Her name is Laura.

Laura and I have a lot in common. We’re old world. We’re fellow Italian – American New Yorkers, too busy not worrying about the amount of calories in a grilled cheese to let our superficial surroundings affect us.

A short man appeared and quietly asked to no one in particular, “Laura?”

“That’s me!” She exclaimed. She stood up, swung her pocketbook over her right shoulder and before letting him escort her to her massage, she turned towards me, “Keep laughing, Gina!” she said. “it’s infectious!”