Thursday, April 10, 2008

Fish Food

As we walked up to the low tank full of fish, the mass of them swirled toward us, just like any other aquarium fish who know someone is approaching with food. But in our case, it was different: this time, we were the fish food.

The spa called it “fish reflexology.” But it was simply this: we were to willingly dangle our feet and calves into a pool full of fish. So they could nibble on us.

It sounds completely insane, but supposedly varieties of spa fish have been eating the dead skin off humans for centuries. We passed up the tank of African spa fish, about an inch or two long, in favor of the larger Turkish spa fish. Neither size seems like such a big deal - until a couple dozen of them are heading for your toes.

Each of us was afraid to put the first foot in (the fish were looking pretty interested, and seemed likely to overwhelm a single foot), so we tried to put our feet in at about the same time. Then, in trepidation, we watched as they swarmed toward us, sizing us up for tasty morsels.

And then came the tickling of puckering fish lips and the tiny flicks of fish tails as they brushed along our feet and legs. And yes, especially at first, it tickled a lot. Much hysterical giggling ensued. Trying desperately to keep still and not twitch away, I kept thinking, “Please, don’t let me kick any of them in the eye.”

But they didn’t seem to mind us at all, and as they got into a routine, we almost got used to the sensation. And so we began to watch them work. It was surreal: “Huh. A fish is cleaning up my cuticles. How nice of him. And look at the little ones nibbling between my toes. They’re doing such a good job.”

Three of us, being female and recently pedicured, were still worked over by our fair share of fish. But Joey was clearly the tasty feature dish. He was, to put it plainly, mobbed.

Once, he tried lifting a foot out of the water, so as to send more fish down to our end of the pool, but they attempted to follow him. Even after he gently shook off the clingier ones, the mouths still hopefully kissed the surface of the water beneath his foot, begging for more.


After twenty minutes of being nibbled, just when we’d begun to get used to the idea, we were led away for a foot massage (this time, by a person) on our newly exfoliated skin.

After the foot rub, we passed the pool again on our way back to our shoes. By this time, it could have been mistaken for any ordinary fish tank; the fish, apparently satisfied with their afternoon meal, had returned to placidly following the current of their pool.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yikes!!

Cheryl said...

Utterly bizarre. But a fabulous description.

losangelesdaze said...

I want to try this! I saw it on an episode of Ugly Betty. Were your feet really soft afterwards?

BB said...

I'm not sure I would be able to try this; your description (and the pictures) are both fascinating and really creepy. I find the fish's particular enjoyment of Joey to be absolutely hilarious. :)

Andrew said...

That is absolutely bizarre. In the bizarre category, it beats (hands down!) everything else I've read from the last six months of your blog posts that I've read in the last hour.

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