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The Search for Spa

Sharon Frances seemed especially proud. “We wax men’s backs like you wouldn’t believe,” said the owner of Lords & Ladies Salon Spa, whose two locations in Alexandria cater to both men and women.

She seemed to think that what men really want are hot stone massages, hotter wax procedures, and pedicures for sandals season. “More and more men are getting those services today. I love seeing it. Metrosexual, it’s very en vogue right now. Grooming for men — if you’re not doing it, you better get on board now. Nose hairs and ear hair, we take those off.”

Ouch. Well, not as “ouch” as that waxing thing — but still, “ouch.”

Doesn’t she know I watch professional hockey? Hasn’t she heard I can eat an entire Philly cheesesteak without using a single napkin? Doesn’t she realize that I’m several other cliché examples of overt masculinity that mask my desire to feel pretty, too?

Did I just write that?

Truth be told, I fall somewhere in the middle when it comes to male grooming. I’m not using a cucumber mask with a citrus fresher before bedtime, but I’m also not my father, whose idea of refinement is splashing on a bottle of Old Spice he purchased during the Nixon Administration. I’m a guy who occasionally would like the opportunity to soothe life’s ills with some mollifying products made especially for my assigned gender; which means nothing with the words “passion” or “berry” or “blossom” on the label.

And that’s the problem. Any man who has stepped inside one of those town center body and bath shops knows of the 98/2 percentage split between the odorous lotions, sprays and balms for women and the two-and-a-half shelves of products for men — all of it for pre- and post-shaving, and all of it smelling like tree bark. Look, I know the rugged lumberjack is an iconic symbol (thanks, Brawny), but even they don’t smell this artificially putrid.

Frances claims to have the solution. Along with offering several massage and grooming services, she also brings some variety to the men’s salon products, incorporating the sharp yet soothing scents of eucalyptus and tea tree oil.

Now we’re talking. I may not be man enough for a waxing or pedicure, but I can go for some aromatherapy that isn’t going to make me stink like Paul Bunyan or a tug boat captain.

Heck, do you know what would be nice? Something with a touch of lavender, maybe even a little citrus.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I believe Carson Kressley and four of his closest friends just arrived at my front door …

<1b>— Greg Wyshynski