Here's the Rub

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The card said:


Inside, a gift card to a local spa. I know what you're thinking: BOYFRIEND JACKPOT.

I've had professional massages before, but they always left me feeling like I was missing out on all the hype. So someone rubs oil on you for awhile & touches you awkwardly & you fall asleep a little bit. What's the big deal? I'd never left a massage feeling any less tense than when I walked in.

Except: I had massive back surgery, remember? Which means I also have some nerve damage. Which means I'm basically the Iron Man of back massages - nothing's gettin' through this armor. So when I received this gift card, especially with such a firm directive for usage, I knew I had only one choice - a deep-tissue massage.

I scheduled it for 10am on a Saturday because I'm a masochist. Like I ever wake up before 10am on a Saturday? At 9:40, I rolled out of bed & found myself with a dilemma: What kind of underwear should you wear to a massage? I didn't want my massage therapist to think I was, like, dressing up for the occasion, so nice black undies were out. Then again, I didn't want to look like some slob in granny panties, either, so, um, half my underwear drawer was out, too. After deciding upon sensible beige underthings, I dressed in what amounted to pajamas (so much for dressing up for the occasion) & groggily set off for downtown.

Here's what I discovered: 
  • Massages are weird, especially the face-up parts, because gravity is weighing on you & pulling your mouth into a frown, as gravity is wont to do, but you don't want your masseuse to think you, like, hate your massage. Thus, I spent a fair amount of time focusing on whether I look sufficiently contented.

  • They're also weird because your first instinct, when someone is tugging on your arms & pounding on his shoulderblades, is to grunt, or at least moan approvingly. But again, you don't want to weird your masseuse out by appearing to be, you know, really enjoying the massage, if you know what I mean. The couple of times I let a noise slip out, my eyes flew open in embarrassment to see if I'd repelled Masseuse Marni; I hadn't.

  • Other reasons massages are weird include the calming background music that always sounds like the "Titanic" soundtrack & the fact that you want to apologize for things like sweatiness & cellulite.

  • And finally, massages are weird because at the end, the massage therapist whispers something like, "Just get up whenever you're ready," & you want to cling to her leg like a small child having a temper tantrum & beg her never to leave you.

What I realized during my massage - which was out-of-this-world awesome, I should note - is that a massage isn't necessarily a frivolity. Those 50 minutes made me feel like a new woman, guys; when I stood up, basically everything cracked. I'm an adult now, almost in my late 20s, & if I want to get a deep-tissue massage once a month, so be it. I'm allowed. As soon as this realization occurred to me (somewhere around the time Marni was doing something to my neck that caused my joints to make funny, whooshing noises as they loosened), I felt very Cartman-esque: "Whatever, whatever, I do what I want!"

Gift card or not, the decision has been made: I am now a massage believer. Iron Man has been felled. In a good way.

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