This story starts with aches and pains.
These can be attributed to tossing and turning through the night, but I don’t know for sure that’s what happened. You see, since I read somewhere (one of those stupid Google results you MUST never open when you’re sick) that it’s safer to sleep on one side over the other because it does things for blood circulation, I’ve tried to stay put when I lie down. It’s friggin’ uncomfortable, but hey…
My body’s been playing host to these pains for a bit now and a massage seemed like a good idea, which is how I found myself at the parlor. Is it just me or does the word ‘parlor’ give it this brothel vibe? Looking at it right now, I can’t figure out whether it’s code for a brothel or a salon with a Madame in some places.
That notwithstanding, I was at a decent establishment with posters and notices strewn about declaring that there was a “no sex policy” here. The same missives went on to promise that legal action would be considered if necessary.
I figure this means if intercourse should occur, someone will be persecuted if it is not consensual. That someone is very likely going to be you because this doesn’t look like the kind of place with the masseuse wrapping up the session (tsk) with the words, “Is there anything else?” before she jumps you.
With my belongings locked away in a closet, I was led to the massage room where a pair of “shorts” were waiting for me. It has to be said, this has to be the most uninspiring item of apparel I’ve ever encountered. And I’ve seen pedal pushers.
This thing is no doubt a byproduct of those bags they give out at the supermarket. You know the ones – not paper, not yet plastic. They are probably best described as the layabout offspring of the polythene bags of yore.
Having slipped this thing on my person I lay down and waited. A few seconds later, the door opened and my masseuse shuffled in with an array of massage oils. I don’t know why they ask what my preference is, but it happens every damn time.
She took me through a list of six and asked which two I’d like for her to use. Part of the reason I didn’t want to choose any stems from my reluctance to try and appear worldly. This is why you will not find me at a Wine Tasting event, or a Whiskey mentorship for that matter. In fact, it is probably why I detest establishments with micro-breweries. Don’t freakin’ ask me what I prefer, just pick something and let’s move. There’s no need to turn it into a conversation.
I don’t want to be exposed by asking for something as basic as Tea Tree oil and Eucalyptus and while I think lavender is pretty decent, my only interactions with it have been through catching whiffs of my 2-year old’s laundry. So, no, I’m not going to have people think I have a onesie fixation.
Naturally, I couldn’t say this to her lest being averse to sophistication was tantamount to an infraction that I’d overlooked while laughing at their ‘no sex’ rule.
“Select for me” I demanded without so much as offering a cursory glance. The message here, I’d hoped, would be, “I’m a very busy person who has earned his air of importance. Do not bother me with such trivialities. Give me your best oils!”
After a pause that would have felt right at home on the set of any game show on telly, “I’ve chosen Tea Tree oil and Eucalyptus for you”.
Let’s digress a bit; this massage parlor has a tendency to hand you the illusion of choice when you’re looking through their menu. I usually go for the option that will extend the comfort I seek to my bank account, and they will almost always try and cox me into picking something that will put a strain on my relationship with my account. This little dance does not stop at the reception as the masseuse will also try her hand at sales by attempting to make me confess that I fibbed earlier and I am in dire need of the most expensive massage they can offer.
I never do. Alright, where was I…
The masseuse, who by now had probably seen through my ruse, proceeded to do things to my feet. If you took her to court and cross examined her, she’d probably deny she was trying to break off and steal my feet for some ritual, but no pain no gain, right?
Then came what I really hope has a technical name in massage school. I’ll be very disappointed if the routine that involves crawling on me on all fours doesn’t have origins involving a Parisienne saying, “zis one ees called zi ‘encrouchment’”. (In my mind massages are from France…. Some I’ve experienced felt a little German, maybe a tad Russian even, but I got a make-good for those, so it’s alright.)
Done with channeling her inner infant, she got down to the business of relieving me of my “tension”. This routine had her using her elbows on my back where she found lumps I had no idea I was harboring.
“You haven’t been getting massages for some time, all this tension”.
What the actual hell?! All my life I believed tension to be anything but physical, but with each ‘elbow’ she kept finding lump upon lump of the damn thing. She kept kneading away, once in a while asking whether the ‘pressure is okay”, to which I replied, through gritted teeth and ‘sweaty’ eyes, “It’s fine”.
She then proceeded to ask me to hold her hands. Never has that suggestion elicited as much horror as it did. I acquiesced and mumbled a prayer as she tugged and pulled. (as a footnote, a similar thing happened to my toes earlier)
I suspect this started to bore her, because it wasn’t long before she went back to my legs. This time she ripped a bit of the (and I say this with such exaggeration) ‘short’ and folded it a little so she could give me a proper knead. I’m not sure whether it was at this point that I blacked out. (I was sleepy, not hurting)
When I came to… or woke up, depending on which version of events you’ve decided to run with, I was being asked to turn over and lie on my back. Thankfully, there was no encrouchment at this point.
There’s something a little out of place about having your tummy prodded by a person that’s not taken the Hippocratic Oath. A giggle would have probably made for a more comfortable encounter, but we worldly folk know better than to laugh mid-massage. It is a sign of weakness, don’t you know?
After completing her audition for the role of gastroenterologist, she gave my temple a massage so thorough, I’m almost certain some of my thoughts and memories were lost to those fingers.
I have longed for a massage that will leave me feeling like a mound of jelly at the end, or whatever it is a fantastic massage is supposed to do for you, but I have never truly experienced that… This was decent, don’t get me wrong and l definitely did feel a little more relaxed, but nirvana is still a dream.
This story starts with aches and pains.