March 2002

After a hard day's night, one man's trip to bliss
By Vince DiMiceli
The Brooklyn Papers

Valentine's Day, 2002. 5 am. Trudging out of the Downtown office of The Brooklyn Papers are the three remaining members of the production team. They've been on the job for about 19 hours, been awake for close to 21, and are now headed home to bed after a day and night of computer breakdowns, missed deadlines and utter pandemonium.

In short, they've had a bad day.

Still, one member of the group has a facial expression unseen on all the others as they piled into a cab. While they silently stare bleary-eyed ahead, he sits there with what could only be described as an ear-to-ear grin. Something unthinkable by those that surround him, including the cab driver who looks at him incredulously.

"What the hell are you smiling about?" the hack asks.

His answer is brief.

"Tranquility," he says as he settles back into his seat and gently closes the car door.

It is now 9 am. The alarm sounds and he heads out of bed and dives face first into a cup of coffee.

"Gotta get the blood flowing," he thinks before taking the mug with him into the shower.

Less than four hours of sleep does not sit well with him. He's used to at least eight, and he's a bit of a grump as he heads out to the car. He turns the key and turns up Howard Stern on the radio. He knows instantly it's a rerun when he hears the cackle of Jackie Martling behind the morning man's voice. (This is a good thing, as he feels the show's lost some steam since the "Joke Man" left some time ago.) The coffee starts to kick in. Things are looking up. Tranquility is near.

The drive to Bay Ridge from Carroll Gardens takes just under 10 minutes on this sunny morning, when the city-bound Gowanus Expressway is a parking lot. He zips by the traffic like a Staten Island-bound pace car, gets off at 86th Street just as the towers of the Verrazano Bridge come into view, takes it down to Ridge Boulevard (where there aren't any meters) and finds the nearest parking spot he can near 84th Street and Third Avenue - the home of Pilo Arts.

His body still aches terribly from the day before. His head is pounding from a hangover that can only be brought on by 19 hours of staring at a 19-inch monitor from two feet away. Everything inside of him is crying out to just get 20 more minutes of sleep right here in the car. But he is undaunted. He still moves up and out of the vehicle. His legs are slowly being pulled uphill, one at a time. The only thing powering them is one thought - tranquility.

A year prior, he had paid a visit to Pilo Arts - which at the time was a bustling hair salon with a spa downstairs undergoing renovations. Times, of course, have changed. Things have happened. The salon he was buzzed into wasn't quite the same. It wasn't as loud. It was quietly humming. But he is still greeted with a smile and the offer of a tasty beverage before being escorted downstairs to the now redone spa reception area. And there, he finds what he had been searching for - the whole reason he was smiling the night before when everyone else was so glum.

His masseuse immediately assesses his situation. He hadn't slept. It is clear he is hopped up on coffee. And it is certain he didn't brush his hair, which is still wet from the shower.

Seeing that he is scheduled for a sports massage - one designed to get the client ready for a big event to come in the ensuing hours - she offers him a cup of hot herbal tea to calm him down, and suggests a different treatment. For him, deep stretching of muscles is definitely out of the question. While he sips his tea, she offers a more relaxing Swedish massage. He gratefully accepts, and she goes to work.

Within minutes, he is out cold, sleeping soundly as his muscles soak in the finger, fist and forearm work of his masseuse. He wakes after what seems like no time at all to be flipped over like a flapjack, and the process starts all over again.

The massage leaves him loosened like rubber, but still a bit groggy. Not even an hour-long massage can cure the ills caused by a day and night of work and little sleep, so he plods into a second room for a "four-layer facial."

His face is steamed and exfoliated and blackheads are removed. This is the hard part. Then comes the easy part - a massage of the face and shoulders followed by the application of a heated seaweed mask that seeps into his pores for the next 20 minutes. His snores can be heard by other clients, outside the room.

But after the treatment he is alive again. His brunch order is taken and he heads back upstairs for a manicure and pedicure. He sips a mimosa recently handed to him.

Upstairs is now a bit busier and the conversation with his manicurist is pleasant. She tells him he has nice nails, and he doesn't need any polish. He agrees. At last, his hosts have heard something out of his mouth other than a snore.

The pedicure, on a heated, vibrating chair with a tub of percolating hot water at the feet, was pleasant, and again, he was sent to dreamland.

He wakes up to a greeting from his hair stylist who begins a discussion on what they should do with his head. They agree upon a trim and some lowlights to tuck away the few grays he's gained since the previous year. His head is massaged as it's washed. His hair gets expertly cut and subtly colored as promised. He gets talked into the tweezing of a few of his eyebrows. He's sent downstairs to a special room with a comfortable couch to eat his brunch - a room which was not here the year before. Music plays lightly as he lounges on a couch. His omelet is served.

Coffee is now acceptable. He slurps it down as he finishes his eggs. Some four hours after he woke up, as he sits there free of emotional disturbance, he realizes he's now ready to start the day.

He is successfully tranquilized.

Every day should be like this one.