a regular on the spa circuit

FISH’S WEEK NOW WENT LIKE THIS. Monday’s were spent at the Tallinn Viimsi Spa, followed by a Tuesday residence at Laulasmaa. Wednesday was his Tartu day. He would take his lunch in the atrium at the Kvartal Spa on the top floor of the department store complex, with scheduled appearances in the Finnish sauna and Russian banya at 2 pm and 3 pm, respectively.

Thursday was a day Fish spent on the road, with an afternoon lunch in Suure-Jaani, then an evening alternating guest slot at some of the lesser-favored Pärnu bath houses (the Estonia Spa was his favorite Thursday night haunt, but he sometimes would spend time at Terviseparadiis — the Health Paradise — just to curry favor with the ownership). Most of Friday too was occupied by Pärnu slots, Hedon and others, and then he would helicopter out to Saaremaa for an evening massage at the Grand Rose. This was covered extensively in the local media, and Fish was even offered his own guest column in Oma Saar newspaper.

By Saturday, Fish was in Haapsalu being bathed in hot mud at Spa Hotel Laine. Sundays he took quietly in downtown Tallinn Water World and Spa. It was a tight schedule, and friends remarked on his new ruddy, broiled complexion. Fish had many girlfriends in each of the spas who came to depend on his regularity, and there were many social media posts that featured the handsome, dark-haired man waving, engulfed by adoring blondes.

For whatever reason, I had remained unaware of Fish’s new gig as a regular on the spa circuit, a new concept cooked up by an Estonian creative marketing team called the “spa celebrity.” As far as I knew, he was still working as a tour guide in Vienna, showing tourists around the haunts of Sigmund Freud, Leon Trotsky, Adolf Hitler, and other great men. Each tour would end with an evening at a beer hall and complimentary baskets of pretzels. He led an abstemious lifestyle, and shared a small apartment in the Favoriten District with a local accordionist. Yet he took readily to his glut career as a celebrity spa guest. He became so full of himself that he forget to tell me that he had moved to Estonia. Disappointed in Fish I was, you might say, yet so intrigued.

It was there, visiting Fish during an appearance in Pärnu, that I noticed that the Windy One had returned to work as a physical therapist. There she was with her chocolate hair, full lips, oblivious as always to my love and presence. She just stood there quietly in the corner, folding some white towels, dressed in the light blue shirt of the spa staff. It seemed somehow appropriate that I would encounter this particularly intangible soulmate in some hidden floor of some forgotten spa while visiting someone as otherworldly as our Fish.

The Windy One did not want to see me. She did not want to talk to me. She ignored me, wanted nothing of me. Yet I said nothing as I took her hand and pressed it into mind, and then we kissed each other and the love channels were reopened. “There, see,” I told her. “Now everything can breathe. Now we can begin again.” The Windy One nodded and went back to folding her towels. When I returned to the foaming hot baths with Fish, a surfeit of Pärnu lasses was clinking cocktails around us. Fish said I had changed.

“It’s you, old buddy!” he gripped me by the shoulders. “You’re back! Where have you been these years?”

“I just went to get a fresh towel,” I said.

“Good times, man. Good times!”

I furnished a waterproof dictaphone and began. “How does one become an Estonian spa celebrity? Start with your childhood. Were you always drawn to spas?” And on it went.

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