My mind is a weird place sometimes. Most of the time.
  1. It's called Pampered Foot Spa, but it's actually a full massage. No website, which seems sketchy in this day and age, but the Yelp raves made me more confident.
    No website, which seems sketchy in this day and age, but the Yelp raves made me more confident.
  2. They advertise an hour-long massage for $25, which seems like there's gotta be something fishy going on.
    @bonifaceviii told me some social science term for this that I've now forgotten - the way people feel like if something is cheaper than they expect it's somehow not as good. Usually I love a deal, but this is basically free - something else must be afoot.
  3. Nonetheless, I rationalize that Yelp and the fancy girl from my fancy gym who first mentioned it to me wouldn't steer me wrong.
    I get a parking spot right outside the storefront, which is in one of the Ventura strip malls next to a sushi place where - if I don't get murdered in the next hour - I decide to grab take-out from post-massage.
  4. Maybe I should ask the sushi restaurant people to check on me in an hour to make sure I'm not dead and still able to pay for my sushi?
    Or less than an hour? They probably get right to the murdering, don't they?
  5. I walk in, tentative, to what seems to be an opium den sans smoke.
    Very dark. A soothing tune plays.
  6. I approach the reception desk; the man seated there reluctantly pauses his iPhone game.
    Clash of Clans? Not sure. It wasn't Candy Crush, which would've eased my nerves significantly.
  7. He waves me inside, a sea of first class airplane seat-type beds, several of which are occupied by women being massaged by middle-aged men.
    I'm greeted by another such man, and led to my first class seat.
  8. The massage begins sitting up, with my feet in a bucket of warm water.
    It's very nice, but I'm trying to stifle the giggles that threaten to burst out every time I remember I'm in a room of other people being publicly massaged. At lunch. In the valley. And we may all be about to get murdered.
  9. After a good neck and shoulder working, the masseuse instructs me to lie down on my back.
    I can feel him squirting some cream on his hands and in horror remember a blog post about a girl who went to a Thai massage place downtown and discovered she was lying on a bed that the previous customer had, er, finished on. Is that better or worse than a massage parlor massacre? Hard to tell.
  10. As the masseuse rubs the cream into my temples, I focus on the idea that it is just lotion, not someone's sperm.
    Where would they even get this sperm? Listen, it felt like a really valid concern during the massage, okay?
  11. He continues to work on my body and I manage to forget about the maybe-sperm and instead occupy myself with other questions.
    This is a long massage. How do they make money if they only charge 25 bucks a pop? Rent isn't cheap, they've got a ton of employees and about 1500 square feet, from what I can see.
  12. So this is totally a front, right?
    It's like Walter White's car wash. A "legitimate" business to launder the drug money they're bringing in by the bushel.
  13. THAT'S why the sign in front says they prefer customers pay in cash.
    Holy shit. Veronica Mars ain't got nothing on my detective skills.
  14. This massage is really good. Who cares if it's a front?
    Jesse Pinkman can have all my money.
  15. The masseuse rolls me over and begins a very lengthy assault on my gluteus maximus.
    My quads are always really tight due to aforementioned fancy gym workout, so this was much needed, but also I just got over the idea of being massaged by drug lord employees and now SOME DUDE IS TOUCHING MY BUTT IS THIS GONNA GET WEIRD? I mean, weirdER?
  16. It doesn't get weird. My virtue intact, the massage ends and the masseuse brings me a cup of water.
  17. I put my shoes and sweater back on, silently apologizing to the nice massage folks who I thought were potential murderers/sperm-smearers/drug runners.
    I give a healthy tip to my masseuse as a thank you for not murdering me and also cause he did a really good job.
  18. I go next door and order my sushi take-out.
    "You come from next door?" asks the waiter.
  19. I wonder if it's my shellshocked but blissed out expression that gives me away.
    When I get in the car I realize it's more likely the towel imprint on my face.
  20. TL; DR: this place might be a front for illegal activities but it's the best 25 bucks (plus tip) I've spent in awhile.
    Next time I'll try to relax more and create crazy scenarios less. But let's be honest, I can't ever promise that.