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Just plucked 

I read in Newsweek the other day that there are 5,700 spas in this country. Five thousand, seven hundred dens of dermatological decadence. I've never set foot in one, in part because I tend not to have the pocket change for a scrub, in part because these places scare me.

I've peeked into spas at various resorts, and they always seem staffed by willowy, unisex humanoids whose own skin has been kneaded, toned, exfoliated and aromatherapized to alabaster perfection. The same marble coolness shows in their eyes. Surely the smallest blemish, the palest smattering of freckles, would be an abomination.

Anyway, says Newsweek, the current slow-down in the economy has thrown the spa industry into a tiz. Searching for more innovative methodologies to lure customers, some spas have introduced "indigenous-food treatments." Examples include the Tropical Citrus Wrap, offered at The Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. For $85 you can have the oils of lemons, limes and oranges massaged into your skin for that "just plucked" feel. For $180, the spa staff at the Hotel Crescent Court will rub you with cornmeal and crushed peppercorns, then baste you in tomato enzyme, cayenne pepper, paprika and brown sugar.

I don't know how many spas there are in North Carolina. Plenty, but I'd hate to see them left in the dust on this particular vogue. Might I suggest the Collard Wrap, wherein customers are covered in black-eyed-pea paste, wrapped in giant collard leaves and sprinkled with a bracing vinegar solution. Or how about the Grit Scrub, a stimulating, skin-sloughing treatment followed by an full-body application of pore-reducing barbecue. Optional red-eye gravy marinade. Or how about my own favorite, for the seriously stressed spa-goer: the Moon Pie Pack; followed, of course, by the Bourbon Soak.

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