As a father, you look forward to your day of leisure once a year. You get presents, usually have a great meal or take in a ballgame. These days, I look forward to spending Father’s Day at Happy Feet, getting a foot massage.
Happy Feet, and similar places on Long Island, deliver more than just a foot message; they provide a sensory delight. It’s a one-hour vacation, an escape from your daily drudgery, a chance to shelve all your troubles and focus on yourself.
Unless you can find time to meditate (yeah, right), how often do you close your eyes in the middle of the day just to relax? We are talking complete relaxation, not the pseudo relaxation that comes with a morning cup of coffee just before the dog starts barking to go out. This is different.
Clear your mind and enjoy the sensation of someone rubbing your tootsies while you lounge in a comfortable recliner. As you lie back, a warm pillow cups the back of your neck and a soft cloth with the aroma of eucalyptus covers your eyes. The soothing sounds of soft pan flute music fill your headphones as reality begins to drift away.
Of course, I was skeptical at first. Me, a true macho man, getting his feet rubbed? Just the thought of a place that specializes in foot massages seems like it would be off limits to real men. Men who wear work boots or play sports. Men who protect citizens from fire and criminals. Insert your own definition of a macho man.
If the thought of a stranger touching your feet isn’t for you, please understand that once, I was just like you. I’m one of those people whose hooves are shod every waking hour; in the house, on the beach, it doesn’t matter. I just don’t like to be barefoot. I’ll wear slippers at home (I like the ones that look like space boots), but not sandals or flip-flops.
My father always wore shoes and one day I asked him, “why?” He said very simply, “I don’t want to stub my toe.” Other than a bad paper cut, is there anything more excruciating than a stubbed toe? His advice seemed reasonable because every time I go barefoot, I stub a toe, get a splinter or step on something that ultimately leads to pain. Why chance it?
My wife and her friends had been ranting and raving about Happy Feet in Massapequa for about a year before they finally convinced me to join them one Sunday afternoon two years ago. I was a little apprehensive about what I was getting myself into, especially the thought of some stranger rubbing my dogs, but why not treat myself for once?
The experience was life changing for me. If this were a religion, I’d be on board. As a matter of fact, I can see how cults are formed if this was offered as part of the daily routine.
The atmosphere is calming and soothing. Low lighting, pan flute music and complete silence are the norm for places like Happy Feet.” While relaxing in your recliner, time just seems to slip away. Thoughts about work or today’s Mets-Washington game try to sneak into your consciousness, but they get swatted away as the pressure points on your feet are worked to perfection. All areas of the foot are attended to—your heel, the arch, the ball of your foot and, of course, your individual toes. I often wonder if they sing the “Little Piggy” song in their head as they work on each toe.
Which brings me back to my Father’s Day foot massage. There are literally hundreds of places on Long Island that offer this service, in addition to full body massages and other types of relaxation therapies. But my special place is Happy Feet.
When exiting, floating on air and trying to compose yourself while getting your bearings back on planet Earth, the manager usually asks, “Was everything OK?” As you struggle to speak after an hour of total relaxation, you smile and whisper, “Just great. Too bad it’s only an hour.” He responds with, “Next time, 90 minutes. Ninety minutes is perfect.”
Let’s see, what am I doing next Sunday…