For years, I’ve been terrified of snakes. Just the sight, sound, scent, or feel of one of those reptiles is enough to make me shriek and scream with horror. But recently, Dane, my husband has started helping me work through that fear. He promised me that when I made it through his self developed program, he would reward me with a trip to Israel.
Needless to say, it took quite some time for me to reach a point where I could hold a corn or rat snake without cringing. But soon, I had passed his tests, and we booked our flights to Israel. The dry heat surrounded us from the moment we left the plane, and that incredible sensation of adventure coursed through me, pounding like a siren’s call to go and experience the wonders of this incredible place.
“I’ve got a big surprise for you,” Dane said once we reached the hotel. He looped his arm through mine and grinned, an impish smile that worried me. “It’s nothing you would ever guess!”
“Oh really? I suppose it wouldn’t be unpacking.”
“Not a chance. Come on. We don’t want to be late.”
So we got into a cab, which was an adventure in and of itself, and we made our way to a spa. At first, I thought that my husband had done something genuinely nice. The elegant sign read “Ada Barak’s Beauty Spa.” When we walked through the doors into the cool well lit spa, I saw a list of recommended treatments. But Dane informed the receptionist that he had already made reservations. And then he said the words I never thought I would hear him say, “It should be for two full snake massages.”
The shock and horror that coursed through me as I stared at the supposed love of my life must have amused everyone in the room. Dane just laughed and put his arm around my shoulders. “Don’t worry! It’s your final test. You’ll have fun. You can do this.”
The kind attendant guided us back into a large open air room. Long wide beds covered in soft terrycloth towels stretched out, and with some prodding, I prepared myself. The attendant gently explained that the snakes have a soothing effect on customers. “It’s like many different fingers at once,” she said. “You’ll enjoy it.”
“I’m going to get you for this,” I muttered to Dane. But he was already stretched out, his eyes closed as if he were lying in a peaceful meadow.
The attendants brought out several snakes and began placing them on both Dane and me. They were thick corn and rat snakes with several thinner milksnakes. As I lay there, I focused on the things that Dane had taught me. How beautiful they were. How smoothly they moved. Most of the snakes were marbled with coral and white. Their little tongues flicked in and out with silent precision. And as I lay there, I realized that, so long as I did not think of the fact that it was snakes, it did not bother me. The heavier snakes did feel like they were kneading my back, and the smaller snakes seemed to take the stress away with their light wriggles.
Before I knew it, I was relaxed. I focused on other things and let them work their magic. Then the massage concluded, and I was still alive. The tension in my shoulders had vanished. Dane rolled over and smiled at me. “Fun, wasn’t it?” he said.
“I suppose so,” I said grudgingly. Feeling relaxed and a little sheepish at my hesitation, I dressed and enjoyed some refreshing water. The attendant smiled, as if to say, “see, I told you it wasn’t so bad.”
When we returned to our hotel, I found a package on the bed. When I unwrapped it, I found a luxurious plushy blanket with an intricately printed Medusa on it. The Medusa was printed in imaginative detail and complete with three serpents coiled around her like slithering bodyguards. My husband had included a handwritten note in the package. It said, “If all this has made you afraid of snakes again, don’t worry. I’ll get you another blanket from www.visionbedding.com.”
As I set the note down, I shook my head. “Really?”
“They’ve got over fifteen million pictures to choose for blankets,” he grinned. “I bet we can find something you’re not afraid of.”
“That’s not what I meant!” I pounded him with the blanket and fell beside him laughing. “What were you thinking, taking me to that place?”
“It was good, wasn’t it?”
Yes, that took the wind from my sails. I wrapped myself up in the blanket and basked in the luxurious sensation of knot free muscles. I would never have thought that a snake massage could be so soothing. But, for those craving more of an adventurous spa trip, I would recommend it. It was an excellent opportunity to test the strength of my resolve and thirst for adventure. And it will certainly be a great conversation starter when the small talk dies down.
If you’re interested in checking out this service for yourself, remember to do your homework. A good snake massage provider will only use non venomous snakes, and they will take good care of their reptiles. A healthy snake has clear eyes and scales. It should not be limp or listless. And remember, if you ever start to feel uncomfortable, you can always stop the session. Only participate to the extent you feel comfortable, and most of all, remember to relax.