Thursday, March 13, 2008

The sweetest place on earth

To those who've never been to Hershey Pennsylvania, images of rivers flowing with chocolate and Hershey Kisses falling like rain might come to mind, and those images wouldn't be far off. The whole place smells of chocolate, especially if you stay in the Hotel Hershey or the Hershey Lodge, as Will and I do every year for the America East Newspaper Conference. Every year I go with the most noble intentions of allowing myself a bit of indulgence at a meal or two, but keeping myself under control for the rest of the time. And predictably, every year my resolve lasts until about the time we check in to the Lodge and they hand over free candy bars and give us keys to a room whose coffee and tea setup includes packets of drinking chocolate.

I still make the sacrifice and go every year. I want to be a supportive wife to Will. Hershey is only about an hour and a half from our house, so if anything were to go wrong with Emily (who we left in the care of my mother) we could be back to Frederick in no time. And the conference is a manageable 3 days long, so we only had to spend two nights away from Emily. And I'll be honest, the allure of having the time to shower, do makeup and hair and dress up to go out for free dinners and drinks didn't sound too shabby.

Oh, and there is also the tiny matter of the Hershey Chocolate Spa being up there. But that was merely an afterthought in my decision to go. I certainly didn't spend my nights awake with Emily during the bout of Roseola thinking to myself "Just two more weeks and I'll be at the spa....just two more weeks".

Even though the spa factored so little into my decision to accompany Will to the conference, I decided to make the best of it and book a day there. As luck would have it, they have a special 20% off package for weekdays, so it seemed the smart thing to do to take advantage of the savings.

So after a nice day on Monday, where I managed to sneak in a short nap and a late dinner at an old Victorian Mansion with representatives from the company who sold the newspaper the new press and hosted us in Japan last year, I rose early on Tuesday and presented myself up at the Hotel Hershey. I spent some time working out in the gym, then ambled up to the spa, donned my sandals and robe and plunked myself down in my favorite chair in the quiet room. I got a coffee body polish, which was ok but I was a bit more naked than I ever enjoy being in front of a stranger. After that was a facial, which strangely enough I was supposed to get naked for too, but that time I had a blanket so I didn't mind quite so much.

As a sidenote, I've decided I really don't like facials. The first one I ever got, the therapist accidentally shoved some sort of exfoliating goo up my nose, causing me to sit up sneezing and sputtering and my sinuses didn't stop hurting until a day later. My second facial, which was this one, I just spent the whole time feeling like the most monstrous excuse for a human that ever climbed on her table. Yes, I know my skin is dry, but thanks for telling me it's some of the driest you've ever seen. Yes, I know my eyebrows kind of give up and disappear halfway across my browline, and thanks by the way for asking in such a snotty tone if I fill them in. Yes, I know my skin turns pink when you scrub on it, and no I don't think it's the beginning stages of Rosacea. Getting naked and being told all of the things that are wrong with your face was just not my idea of a relaxing good time.

Now the Hershey Spa is evil too. They offer free breads (usually chocolate), pastries (also usually chocolate), coffee, tea, and hot chocolate to their patrons, and there are bowls of Hershey Kisses and mini candy bars just lying around everywhere you turn. They also have "The Oasis", which is where you have lunch while getting your spa treatments, and fully half of the buffet is taken up by chocolate cream pies, chocolate cheesecakes, truffles, mini creme brulees and all manner of other hip-widening things. I managed to stop just short of eating myself sick (I'm like a sheep that way).

My lunch was followed by a massage, which was wonderful except for the fact that the therapist spent the first 10 minutes trying to crush my mastoid sinuses and they're still sore. But by the end of the treatment I was just a big puddle of person on the table, which is how one should be after a successful massage. After a manicure I was finished and returned to the world outside my happy place. I was relaxed enough and in a charitable enough mood to act as a buffer and a distraction between Will and the overly-zealous company president who took us to dinner that night to convince Will to buy his software (Why yes, please do tell me more about golf and who at your company is lazy). The bright note of the evening was a fantastic old man who looked like Dwight Eisenhower and was friends with the aforementioned company president and so came along for dinner. He has been in the newspaper business for quite some time and he spent the cocktail hour telling me secrets and dirt about various people in the industry (including the family) that I never even knew. During dinner, when our host became overexcited about a certain topic, Mr. Eisenhower would take him down a peg. The two of them together reminded me of the two old men who sit up in the gallery and yell insults on the Muppet Show.

And so yesterday we came back home, rather more tired than when we had set out. I learned that if I want to get extra sleep, I need to go to bed earlier and not depend on sleeping in in the mornings, because Emily seems to have taken that ability away from me. Staying out until 11:30 at dinners is not a good way for me to catch up on sleep, it turns out, but I can't complain.

Now we're home and I have my Emily back, and she seems to've adjusted well to the time change. I know we were punks for leaving her with my mom to deal with right after we sprang forward, but it all worked out and now we're all back to our previously scheduled program.

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