Yesterday, I capped off my vacation with a spa day. Well, an abbreviated spa day… pedi and massage. Both were amazing.
FYI, use hemp soap on your feet to make them as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Apparently, a cheese grater like contraption helps with that as well. Also, mint mask is heaven for your toes.
The massage was one of the best I’ve ever had. I’ve been suffering from neck and shoulder pain. Girlfriend worked that OUT. In working it out she pretty much had me neked on the table. As I was laying there, in pain and ecstasy at the same time, I couldn’t help but think of how proud I am of myself to not be embarrassed, worried, self-conscious, etc. that this total stranger of a woman was seeing all of me spread out on the table. I am finally getting comfortable in my skin…I kinda’ like me! Of course, as I’ve said before, tanned fat looks better than albino fat, and I’m rocking a badass tan right now, but still.
The other thing I thought of as I laid there, as I do during most table massages (because I have PTSD), was the time I was ruined for life on mall spa packages, male “massage therapists,” and my friend Roberta ever being permitted to choose the location of girls’ spa day…EVER AGAIN.
First, my apologies in advance to male massage therapists, I know there are plenty of you who are probably wonderful, ethical massage therapists. All my best to you.
For many of the same reasons I have a female gynecologist, I prefer a female massage therapist. Always have actually, even before the traumatic experience I’m about to recount to you. Mostly because, and this may be the company I keep (though it seems from the Cosmo articles I read to be an accurate assessment), men cannot separate a naked woman from attraction/sexuality. I imagine that a male massage therapist is thinking, “traps, rhomboids, NICE RACK, focus… neck.” Well, perhaps not if the man is gay, but if that’s the case I’m still a little worried that I’m being evaluated. Like, “do yourself a favor and step away from the Twinkies, girlfriend.”
For all of these imagined reasons, a naked me finds it difficult to relax in front of a man I’m not married to, even if he is a trained professional.
Let alone an untrained non-professional.
Years ago, when our daughters were young and we were exhausted by their terrible twos, my friend, Roberta, booked us a spa day. I had booked the last one at a European day spa, and it was her turn to do the arranging. The Euro spa was booked, so Roberta reserved us spa days at a spa in our local mall. When she told me the location I tried to recall what spa she was referring to, but all I could think of was a nail place. Oh well.
When we get there, it’s the nail place. Okay, how bad can it be? I mean, they have a spa package so maybe there’s more to this halogen paradise than meets the eye.
While Roberta gets her nails done, I’m taken into a closet for a facial. No, I’m not kidding. It’s a closet. During the mask steaming portion of the facial, I’m left in the closet, which shares a black curtained window with a busy mall corridor, sitting in total darkness. There’s no ambient music, no dim lighting or candles. No, just screaming children and me praying to God the lady comes back. Gratefully, she does.
Roberta and I trade. The manicure is fab. I assume because, being a nail salon, that’s their fortè. While I get my mani, I observe a borderline creepy guy hanging out in the salon. I make a mental note to keep my purse close. I finish my mani before Roberta finishes her facial and am escorted to closet door number two. Oh dear God. The nail salon is tiny. This closet is a crawl space. There’s just enough room for the massage table and a very skinny massage therapist. Looking at the woman who’s escorting me to the closet, I’m grateful she fits the tiny bill. This is when my spa day turns into a full on horror show. My tiny masseuse introduces me to the creepy purse snatcher and explains that this guy is the massage therapist who’s going to be working on me today. I briefly consider an impromptu emergency at home…or a sudden case of indigestion…but Roberta is still in closet number one getting a relaxing facial, and I don’t want to be rude to this guy…
This is how people get killed.
Well he’s a professional right? It’ll be okay. He tells me to undress to my level of comfort, get on the table under the sheet, and he’ll be back. Okay. That’s all fairly typical massage therapist talk. It should be comforting. Unfortunately, it’s not. Probably because my brain is picking up the serial killer vibe I’m stubbornly ignoring lest I come across as rude. Once inside the crawl space, separated from the busy nail salon by a paper thin door, I feverishly ponder what “undressed to my level of comfort” means to me right at this moment. In a normal massage, my comfort level is neked or panties only. Right now, I’m contemplating staying fully clothed. Not wanting to appear prudish or immature, I opt for panties only. Just as I reach to take off my bra, I panic again…DO I REALLY WANT TO DO THIS?! F*****CK. Cursing Roberta and contemplating an end to our friendship, I crawl belly first onto the table, pull the sheet over me, and wait for the massage therapist to return.
I’m grateful when he does, because I’m soooo ready for the lights to dim. Not in a romantic way, more in a “I’m pretty sure now that I’ve had time to lay here a second that this sheet is see through in this bright halogen lighting.” Unfortunately, the guy explains, this really is a closet, it only has two options, “lights on and lights off.” Having experienced the deep cave darkness of “off” during my facial, we leave them on. I greatly dislike Roberta.
He begins the massage, remarking that I’m very tense. Ya think?! And unlike most men, this guy’s a talker. Inspired by the captive audience, I’m sure. I’m normally a talker, but right now I want to concentrate on my “scream, get dressed quick, and run” plan should this go, South. Pun intended. I’m deep in my escape plans when he brings me back to the now…
“…forgot my oils at the mattress store.”
“The mattress store?” I ask (I shouldn’t have.)
“Yes. I do chair massages outside The Sleep Number Store. The salon pulls me over sometimes when they need a massage done.”
Thank God I am face down right now, because the floor is seeing me, eyes wide open in panic, mouthing “WHAT THE FUCK?!” Roberta is dead to me.
Chatty goes on as he attempts, unsuccessfully, to work out my tension; which, given the situation, is a bit like bailing water out of a bottomless boat. As he works at the tension in my legs, half of me slips away to my happy place. The other half of me is staying put to ensure I’m not assaulted.
And it’s time to flip. Before doing so, I whisper to the floor one last prayer for my mental and physical health.
Well, I’m 90% sure now that this sheet is indeed see through. It’s more mosquito netting than anything. The mattress masseuse is going to be telling all of his friends about this moron who booked a massage at the nail salon.
Who am I kidding? Friends? Doubtful. I’m probably the best friend he’s ever had.
I estimate I have about 15-20 minutes of this torture remaining. ‘Find my happy place, find my happy place.’ Not gonna’ happen, because this is the moment the massage therapist (???) tells me he’s been studying acupuncture. Using our conversation as a means to pass the time, I mistakenly engage.
“I’ve always been interested in acupuncture!” I say.
“It’s all about trigger points!” he responds. “For instance there are pressure points in your ears.” And he squeezes his way too long thumb nails into my ear cartilage.
“This will make your energy flow. Feel that?”
“Mhm.” He keeps digging his nails in. I take the pain as long as I can, because I don’t want to hurt his feelings (there’s not enough room in here for a naked woman, a mattress store masseuse, AND hurt feelings), before I say, “Ya, um, that really hurts.” In my head I think, “a man’s uncut fingernails do not millimeter thin pins make, jackass!!!”
I pass my remaining time plotting this guy’s death. I briefly consider giving Roberta, who’s up next for a massage, some sort of sign to save herself and cancel, but the amateur acupuncture sealed her fate. I’m determined to walk out of this closet looking happy as hell. She deserves to not escape this torture. Ordinarily I’d feel bad about that. But my kindness has been worn thin by placating the creepy mattress store masseuse’s big shot at a real gig. Sorry, Roberta.
Dude leaves. I dress, fantasizing about the Crying Game moment I’m going to have in the shower as soon as I get home, and walk out with a smile. When I see Roberta I know she’s figure out that creepy guy here is her massage therapist. As I’m ushered to my massaging pedicure chair, I watch Roberta’s clear discomfort at the situation with absolute amusement. Mwa ha ha ha. Nail salon spa day, indeed. Suffer, friend.
Roberta disappears into the crawl space. Creepy boy knocks and enters the brightly lit room, and I giggle as I briefly glimpse the panic on Roberta’s face. Then I close my eyes and lean back to relax and enjoy my pedicure.
An hour later, creepy boy emerges from the closet and heads back to the mattress store. Shortly afterward, Roberta exits the closet and looks at me like “HOLY SHIT.” Holy shit indeed Roberta. I laugh out loud. She comes over, and I explain that I briefly considered warning her so she could cancel, but ultimately thought she should suffer the same fate I had to. Roberta, one of the sweetest, most amazing people I’ve ever known, laughs hysterically. She then goes on to recount her very similar experience. You see, Roberta too panicked when she reached to take of her bra. So she didn’t, which meant creepy massage guy’s fingers tripped over her bra the whole massage long. That made it creepier, but she was glad she did because the sheet was see through. Yes it was. I explain that I took mine off. I also explain that our massage guy was borrowed from the mattress store. I really enjoy Roberta’s horror-stricken face at that revelation.
Roberta is still my friend, but she is no longer permitted to arrange spa days. She forgave me for not warning her. I can laugh now, but the scars are still there…popping up everytime I get a massage. Good or bad.