Tag Archives: massage

Relax: easier said than done

27 Apr

Image Source: http://gifsoup.com/view/1228906/cat-massage.html#prettyPhoto

It’s been a stressful week. By Tuesday evening, I’d already clocked 30 hours of work… and if you count Sunday, which is theoretically a day off, the tally was closer to 36 hours.

By the time Thursday afternoon rolled around, I was spent. On a whim, I picked up the phone and called to see if my massage place had any cancellations that evening – they did. So an hour later I found myself stripping down for a massage.

Normally I get massages on the weekend, walking the five miles to the studio in yoga clothes. Thursday, however, my routine was totally thrown off since I was coming straight from work.

When my masseur – a big, burly guy named Errol who contagiously giggled like a girl – left the room so I could change, I panicked. My outfit was COMPLICATED to remove, and I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to strip down before he came back to knock.

For starters, I was wearing a collared button down shirt with half-pearl buttons, which are slippery and tough to work back through the holes. Knowing I was up against the clock only made me fumble more. Then came my socks. In and of themselves, they weren’t that tricky. But I’ve started wearing fluorescent orange compression sleeves over them (don’t ask) which are a feat to remove.

I felt like I was in a race. I tried to reassure myself, knowing he’d knock to make sure I was ready before re-entering the room. But I’ve always found that exchange to be a bit like a conversation with an adult from Peanuts: I hear the knock and a muffled question, and I’m not sure if I’m supposed to say, “OK” or nothing. Whatever I choose, they seem to come in regardless, so I decided the knocking wasn’t much of an insurance policy.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m actually not modest and wouldn’t actually care if someone walked in on me naked. But it’s awkward. Like when I was at the gynecologist a few weeks back and the nurse whipped in the room to see if I’d been given a gown – only to find me already bare-assed in the middle of the room, stepping out of my underwear.

“Oh geez!” she said, clearly startled. “I’m so sorry!”

See what I mean? She was going to see me naked only a few minutes later, so it wasn’t my nudity that bothered her – it was that I wasn’t where she expected me to be. It was as awkward as if she’d walked in and found me crouching on top of a filing cabinet. So that’s what was going through my head as I changed for my massage. Must. Get. Under. The. Sheet.

Fortunately, I made it. But in the process, I forgot to run my fingers between my toes. I always do that to make sure there’s no random sock lint, because I think if I were a masseuse, I’d puke if I had to rub someone’s feet and I encountered toe jam. Before I could remedy the situation, Errol reappeared. Crap. Whatever.

Errol was awesome, and I’m not just saying that because he complimented me on having well-developed lats. Which, now that I think of it, might actually NOT have been a compliment.

In any case, we’d established a chatty rapport, so when he got to my feet I said, “Hey, I’m sorry – I totally forgot to check for lint.”

He had only my right leg and foot exposed at that point, and he responded, “Please. Your feet are in great shape. You should see some of the dogs I have to walk. I just close my eyes and jump right in.”

“Careful,” I cautioned, “You haven’t seen the left one yet.” And because this is how my brain works, I continued, “How awesome would it be if it was all snarled and I was missing toenails? You’d feel horrible.”

Apparently, Errol didn’t share my sense of humor, because he was pretty quiet after that. Lesson learned: Never relax so much that you think strangers will appreciate your warped mind. It will just make them sit in silent judgment. Which – if you’re getting a massage – actually turns out to be OK.

Or maybe he’d seen this clip and thought he was on a hidden camera:

West Virginia: Maybe not the best place for a massage.

2 Jan
Image Source: everydayfunnyfunny.com

How’s the pressure?

I used to believe that massages and fried food were similar: There was no such thing as a bad one. I now know differently, thanks to the “spa” at Berkeley Springs State Park.

If you’re not familiar with Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, here’s what you need to know: 1) It is to West Virginia what Austin is to Texas and Ann Arbor is to Michigan: a random little island of liberalness in an otherwise gun-loving region; 2) It’s named for its natural springs, which are believed to have healing properties and maintain a constant 74˚ temperature; 3) Alan and I follow in the steps of George Washington, coming here regularly (in our case – for New Year’s) to chill and recharge batteries.

This year, we decided to check out the spa at the state park. We booked ourselves a soak in a Jacuzzi tub filled with natural spring water, followed by an hour-long massage. Sounds good, right?

Until you realize: whoever designed this experience has likely never actually visited a real spa. Here’s how I know…

First, when I was ushered to the women’s area, there were a half dozen employees (all women) standing around. One led me into a space with lockers and handed me a sheet. “Everything off, then wrap yourself in this.” I did as I was told, then stepped out. Another woman led me to a Jacuzzi tub that was already filled with water.  We stood side-by-side, looking at it. “Hand me your sheet,” she commanded.

What I'll wear for my next massage.

What I’ll wear for my next massage.

I did. Then I proceeded to climb in the tub with her watching. Can’t remember the last time a woman has seen me in a bathtub, but I’m thinking it was probably when I was still of an age when I might poop in it. (When I told this to Alan, he raised his eyebrows, as if to say, “And that’s no longer a possibility?”)

So I floated in the tub for 15 minutes, wondering if Alan was having a parallel experience on the men’s side of the house… imagining I’d soon hear some explosive language if a man commanded him to strip then watched as he slipped into the tub.

When my bath was done, another woman came in, bringing a towel. I climbed out of the tub, thinking, “Hmm. Half of West Virginia will have seen my tits by the time this is done. Good thing I’m not modest.” She led me to a room for my massage, then pulled my towel off me and told me to lie down.

The table was covered with a sheet and blanket. As she turned to hang my towel, I peeled the sheet back and quickly got under it. Turning back around, she said, “What have you done? You’re supposed to be on TOP of the sheet. Here – let’s get that fixed.”

So I rolled to my side, thinking she could simply tug and straighten the sheet.  Alas – she couldn’t. The next thing I knew, I was squatting on the end of the massage table, buck naked, while she straightened out the sheet.  I’m pretty sure other women only ever assume that position when they’re trying to birth a baby.

When we finally got everything squared away and I was on the table, face up, covered by a loose sheet, the massage commenced. Or – rather – something akin to hyper, superficial rubbing began. I would be willing to bet my next paycheck that this woman was not a licensed masseuse.

In hindsight, I should’ve done more than scratch my head when I noticed that the website referred to them as “massagers” instead of masseurs.

OK, it could've been worse.

OK, it could’ve been worse.

Her idea of a massage was to take her hands and quickly cover as much territory as possible, not actually exerting any pressure. Initially I thought, “This is an interesting way to warm-up.” But then, as she moved from one arm to the other, and then my shoulders and neck, I realized: this was no warm-up – this was the massage.

I knew she was massaging in earnest based on the amount of oil she used. A regular masseuse will put a small amount on her palms and rub them together to pre-heat the oil. Not this lady. The oil was in a container similar to a ketchup bottle, and she drizzled it directly on my body as if she were preparing a hot dog. I felt a bit like a turkey getting basted.

I tried to think of ways to salvage the massage. My best idea was to ask what style massage she practiced (knowing damn well it wasn’t a recognized style) then saying, “Does anyone here know deep tissue? I have a sports injury I need worked?” Of course, by this time I was feeling sorry for her, so I couldn’t bring myself to actually execute this plan.

Also? I’m pretty sure she normally only gets booked for 30 minute treatments, because she did every part of my body TWICE. Alan aptly summarized it by saying, “So she did two laps?” Exactly.

When it came time to settle up, I faced the awkward decision of the tip.  I considered taking a page from Bazooka Joe and leaving a written slip of paper that said, “Tip: Find a new vocation.” But I couldn’t bring myself to be that mean.

I can only hope that she’ll use the money I left her to go to a real spa and get a massage so she knows how it’s done.

Rub, rub, barf. This one’s all over the place.

23 May

There was a moment during my most recent massage (the one following the fire-alarm facial) when I’m pretty sure I heard my masseuse gag. She was pregnant, in her first trimester, and – as I lay face-down on the table – I heard her swallow a wave of nausea.

It got me wondering how many people have ever been barfed on in the middle of a professional massage.

I mean, surely it’s happened to someone. I want to interview that person.

Suddenly, my massage was mentally hijacked… in my best Barbara Walters’ voice, I imagined myself prompting, “So Donna. You were face-down, expecting a relaxing massage. Take us back to that moment. When did you realize you were bathed in vomit rather than massage oil?”

At some point, I realized that it was probably not natural to spend a portion of one’s massage contemplating a half-digested shower, so I tried to push the thought from my mind and relax. But then another – equally horrifying – thought occurred to me. What if it wasn’t her pregnancy that made her gag? What if it was ME?

I started a paranoid accounting of myself. Toe nails… trimmed and painted… No flabbier than the average client. No warts on my feet… Legs shaved… I’d showered right before my massage so no chance of my feet smelling funky.

And then it occurred to me: SPIDER BITES.

I’d woken up the night before with itchy legs and found two huge welts (dare I say HIVES) on my leg, each with a perfect dot in the center. They were bigger than mosquito bites, so – even though it was 3 am – I woke Alan up, turned on the light, and tossed the bed looking for whatever bit me.

I didn’t find it, but I figured I’d probably either killed or displaced it with my flurry of activity, so I was able to go back to sleep.

But lying on the massage table with two huge welts on my legs that looked like botfly larvae might burst forth at any moment? A person wouldn’t need to be pregnant to want to puke.

Speaking of – I actually don’t think I can finish this post. I just bounced over to Google images to see if I could find a “funny botfly larvae” photo to illustrate this story. That was a HORRIBLE idea. Those words should never be in the same search string. Take my word for this.

And so it is… only in my world can a massage lead to a fantasy that ultimately tracks to parasitic worms. No wonder I never seem relaxed.

There’s only one situation in which a cold shower is appropriate.

30 Dec

Last night I had a massage appointment at 8:30. (I KNOW – if you’ve been reading closely, that makes THREE massages in THREE weeks. Sheer awesomeness as I deplete my Flex Spending Account.)

Anyway, I started the day with sunrise yoga and was planning to cap the day off by hitting the pool for a half hour workout of kick laps before my massage.

I drove there.

I parked.

I changed.

And because the DC pools insist on everyone showering before entering the pool, I went to the showers (nevermind that I had taken one at home about three hours prior). But here’s the thing: the shower was FREEZING.

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I’m supposed to be making Christmas cookies…

11 Dec

But instead, I’m pacing around my house, trying to figure out what I should eat for lunch, and if it’s too late to eat lunch.

Why am I devoting so many brain cells to such a simple thing? Because I’m getting a massage in 90 minutes and don’t want to feel like a beached whale on the massage table. I’ve definitely done that before: eaten too close to rub time and then, when they say, “Roll over on your stomach,” I’m like, “Really? Are you sure you want me to do this??? OK, fine, it IS your table.”

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