Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Bad Touch

Last week I eased myself back into running, covering about 18 miles during three workouts--the most pavement pounding I'd done in a month. The first two outings were hip pain-free and I was optimistic that I'd either healed completely or had transferred my malady to strangers I'd rubbed against in the Harris Teeter checkout line. But Sunday's eight miler proved me wrong. Before I'd even stopped sweating, my pelvis felt liked it had been ground into mulch and the pain hasn't lessened any as the week has gone by. I've done everything but sprinkle ibuprofen on my cereal and have been intermittently icing it by sitting on a bag of Dora the Explorer brand frozen edamame, which makes me feel creepy on a number of levels.

As luck would have it--and trust me, Luck rings my bell less often than Job Offers or Clear Skin--I got a birthday card from My Former Boyfriend this week that contained a gift certificate to a local massage parlor, perhaps as his way of saying I'm no longer interested in touching you, so maybe these people will. I ignored the fact that my birthday was a solid five months ago; considering that he forgot not to spelunk other women during our relationship, I can see how my 29th might slip his mind too.

Anyway, it's been a long time since I've had a massage because day spas--along with property taxes, oil changes, and brand-name soup--are luxuries that don't exactly fit into my budget. I haven't even thought of paying someone to rub my back since I went to the '07 Orange Bowl when my hotel had a heavily advertised spa the size of a Sam's Club. I had some time before it was appropriate to start drinking heavily so I slipped into the embroidered robe hanging in my closet and decided to check it out. I strolled down the hall and was immediately greeted by a chiseled Abercrombie dropping whose name was probably a noun. He led me into a treatment room and had me answer a list of questions including whether I've ever had a baby and my thoughts on rheumatoid arthritis. I stared at his biceps and quickly checked all of the 'No' boxes, wondering how soon he'd have his hands on me.

He took my clipboard and scanned my answers, his mouth visibly moving as he read down the page. "So where would you like me to focus my efforts today?" he asked earnestly. I clicked the logo ballpoint pen a few times, trying to gather myself before I could snicker or say "My vagina" but the wicked smile that slowly seeped across my face was hard not to notice.

He noticed.

Tucking his hair behind his ears, he stood up and gave me a look like I'd just shoved his puka shell necklace up my ass. He suggested that I didn't have the "proper constitution" for these treatments and walked out of the room, the door softly closing behind him. I shrugged it off as just another rejection in a lifetime chock full of 'em, and stayed behind long enough to fill the pockets of my robe with bottled water and tubes of hotel branded lotion.

Cut To: yesterday when I took my gift certificate across town to a strip mall anchored by an organic grocery store and a couple of boutiques that sell sustainable articles of clothing that look itchy and smell like dirt farts. I hurried past each open door before they could realize I'm a meat-eating, non-recycling Earthfucker and punish me accordingly, possibly by making me wear one of their outfits. The massage place was on the end of the row and before I even opened the door, I was assaulted by eucalyptus-scented potpourri, like they spent the morning roasting koalas on a bed of cough drops.

A woman who introduced herself as Wisdom typed my name into the computer as a pair of men wearing sterile-looking shirts arranged aromatherapy candles on the shelf. They were both superhot and looked like they could spend their days wrestling large animals if only it didn't wreck their cuticles.

I was wondering which one of them I'd get to disrobe for--and how early in the massage I could tell him to please focus on my butt meat--when Wisdom signaled for my attention. "OK, you're all set", she said, her eyes magnified behind a pair of Lisa Loeb glasses she borrowed from 1994. "Ruth will be taking care of you today." Ruth? Shit. I've only known one Ruth in my entire life, a pinched looking woman who lived in my parents' neighborhood whose passion for cigarettes was only matched by her passion for gum disease and yelling.

As if on cue, she lumbered out to greet me and my ste-Ruth-otype was right on. She was a large, broad-backed woman, the kind that if placed on all fours would make an excellent coffee table. Shaking her hand was like shoving it into a trash compactor and I was still rubbing my fingerbones as she led me down a dimly lit hallway to the massage room. "Get undressed to the point you're comfortable," she said, a phrase that would sound more seductive if it wasn't being whispered by a woman the size of a Chevy Nova. I tossed my clothes on the chair, got under the sheet, and noticed that there was a softly-playing soundtrack of birds chirping. It was supposed to be soothing but instead I felt like I'd been left in a field to die.

Ruth came back into the room and dimmed the lights. I told her a bit about my hip issues and she gave a concerned-sounding grunt before jamming the heels of both hands into my upper back, rubbing with the intensity of someone trying to smooth a stubborn bubble out of a piece of wallpaper. "So what do you do for work?" she asked me. I stopped biting my clenched fists long enough to answer. "I'm a freelance writer," I told her, because a liberal arts education means I can say freelancer instead of unemployed.

"Lots of time at one of them computers," she said, ramming her knuckles into the base of my neck. "That explains this knot right here. It's the size of a box turtle." I'm altogether unfamiliar with box turtles, other than knowing what it feels like to run over one so I didn't know what to say other than "Really?"

"Yup. Before them computers, a hundred years ago, you wouldn't have box turtles like this." Of course not, Ruth. Because one of the village elders would have extracted it and cooked it into a stew. "Don't worry," she said, pummeling me with either her elbow or a tree branch. "I'm gettin' rid of this turtle."

It's always unnerving when people have to use amphibians to describe your body. I couldn't wait till she told me my hamstrings were like a bucket of angry salamanders. I was also sweating from the pain and wondering whether we should've established a safe word when she grabbed my butt. I clenched. I seized. I...cleized. "You could bounce a quarter off these glutes," she offered.

"Um...thanks?" I replied, horrified and considering jumping out the window before she could show me the other techniques she learned in the women's prison. "That ain't a good thing," she told me, mashing away like she was fixing a divot.

Despite the fact that she was still muttering the word "turtle" under her breath, I somehow managed to relax. I let Ruth do her job--which meant trying to crush my bones like empty soda cans--and the rest of the hour flew by like the sparrows that were chasing each other through the speakers. It also meant that my hip felt...better. "All set," she told me, wiping her hands on the front of her pants. "Get yourself dressed and I'll see you out front".

I stood up on unsteady legs, wobbling like a shopping cart with a bad wheel. I walked out, tipped Ruth and waved goodbye to Wisdom. "Happy birthday!" she shouted at my back before I got all the way out the door. I started walking back to my car, passing two of the eco-boutiques before breaking into a run and feeling younger than I had all year.

25 comments:

Jack said...

Wow. I've never had a massage but it sounds like it could do wonders for all my years of computers, bad posture and no exercise.

Also, "it was supposed to be soothing but instead I felt like I'd been left in a field to die" is probably a line I'll remember for a very long time. Hilarious.

TC said...

Since when is a tight butt not a good thing? *confused*

Wow... I'm kind of amazed about the bday gift from the ex. I've never gotten that treatment!

Meika said...

The only gift I have ever been given from an ex was an anonymous email telling me to check for STD's. You're doing good man!

bex said...

HILARIOUS. I laughed so hard reading this post, my roommate thought I was being violently tickled.

theloosemoose said...

"like they spent the morning roasting koalas on a bed of cough drops."
Good stuff right there.

Katie said...

I just stumbled across your blog, and this is HYSTERICAL! Don't know which was better--your poor "constitution" or the Dora edamame...

P.S. I once got kicked out of yoga for staring too hard at the instructor's, um, downward dog...

John at Hella Sound said...

Wow. Wow. The ex-boyfriend gift is definitely dubious--that's just trouble in a pretty perfumed envelope. You did the right thing and used it, hopefully with a healthy sense of spite.

My wife and I both hit the spa when we were on vacation in Puerto Vallarta last week. Matilda, my masseuse was tiny, thin and athletic, but worked me like a woman 5 times her size. And like a woman who was really, really angry at all things muscle fiber-oriented.
Never underestimate the importance of verbal communication in a massage; my high school Spanish didn't help me explain to her that it felt like she was tearing the meat from my bones.

Hope your hip is on the mend, and good luck.

Biddy said...

it's places like that that give normal massage therapists like myself such a bad rap! well, those and the ones that offer "happy endings"

just so you know, we're taught that if the customer says "ease up" we're supposed to ease up...if you tell them and they don't, request another therapist!

Suz said...

H-I-larious! What a great post! You had me laughing out loud and that is a great feat considering all I've been doing for the last 48 hours since I found out my ex has a new girlfriend is crying and throwing things...thanks I needed this! :)

J-Money said...

jack: I'll send you a gift certificate for your birthday.

tc: Yeah, I'm not sure what he was thinking either...

meika: Maybe he sent this because he doesn't have my email address.

bex: Do you frequently get violently tickled? Because you may want to hang out with different people.

theloosemoose: Muchas gracias.

katie: It's totally the instructor's fault for downward facing his dog in front of you.

john @ hella sound: SWANKY. For the record, I would make a great second wife.

biddy: If only I'd known that yesterday.

suz: Glad I could help. Hang in there... you're too much awesome for him anyway.

lacochran said...

"I've done everything but sprinkle ibuprofen on my cereal and have been intermittently icing it by sitting on a bag of Dora the Explorer brand frozen edamame, which makes me feel creepy on a number of levels."

Your hip may be troublesome but you are in great form! Glad to hear the massage helped.

stealthnerd said...

"She was a large, broad-backed woman, the kind that if placed on all fours would make an excellent coffee table."

Amazing.

Heinous said...

Great story. I gotta stop reading you at work. People will think I'm enjoying my job.

Bilbo said...

I will have to post my story about the seaweed massage my wife talked me into getting a few years ago...it's too long for a comment here, but I think you'd be able to relate.

Anonymous said...

J-money, I saw a cool freelance writing ad on list of the day - craigslist atlanta posting....you should check it out. With your abilities, it would turn out to be an awesome story.

margi said...

This?

. . .I was assaulted by eucalyptus-scented potpourri, like they spent the morning roasting koalas on a bed of cough drops.

That right there gave me a coffee nasal enema. Ouch.

Jess said...

I'm reading Ruth with a thick German accent, just so you know.

Andy said...

"Butt meat"= excellent. I do love how you manage to offend so many people who come into your life. It's a gift.

X-Country2 said...

I always think messages are a better idea before I go than after.

I love the frozen Dora edamame detail. Awesome.

Mike said...

First visit on Bilbo's advice. Good advice Bilbo. And what 2T2MSB needs is "indexed" (http://thisisindexed.com/) agent
(http://www.twliterary.com/) .

fiona said...

Got to give Bilbo loads of money for steering me here, laughing so hard I choked on my Gimlet...this is not good, spluttering out good Gin!

twinkie said...

I also found you on bilbo's blog and glad I did. Laughed out loud several times.

the only massages I've ever gotten were by small framed females and I couldn't tell when they started or stopped. I need a Ruth in my life.

Persephone said...

Sorry, I read this a few days ago, but had to come back for the hamstrings like a "bucket of angry salamanders". This time, I made sure I'd put down my cup of coffee.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

Haha, that story is great. I've only had one massage, and I left thinking that it was not NEAR worth the $45 someone paid for it. It was more like my 7 year old cousin attempting to remove stress.

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