In the winter of 2010 I was having some minor health issues. Now, I’m 24 years old so I don’t mean “health issues” in the way it’s usually paired to things like high blood pressure or the desperate and disgruntled need for a colonoscopy. No, this was just an annoying lower back and hip problem that joined my life thanks to a week long date that I had with a hard wooden bench.

After a standard and long-winded “it’ll go away” phase that accompanies every man below 40, I finally faced the facts. I had an issue with my back and I needed to see someone about it. Problem is, I’m a freelance writer and producer. If you’ve spent anytime in the working world you know that it doesn’t matter what words follow “freelance” because, regardless, it means the same thing. ‘I have no money.’ All of my money is hiding out in a dark hole somewhere with its good friend – decent insurance. While I do, in fact, have insurance, it’s the kind I can afford. It’s sort of like the Ralph’s off-brand insurance that covers me for about 7 irrelevantly un-useful things like toe-nail rehab and eye-lash construction. Certainly not chiropractic care. Thus, I had to settle for the next best thing; a “50% off for First Timers” deal at Massage Envy.

The idea of professional massage freaks me out. I wanted quick and clinical relief from a doctor not slow and sensual relief from a stranger. But I had no choice, so I went and I was introduced to my masseuse, named Andrew, who showed me to my room. Now – before you start guessing towards the end – I have no problem with the fact that it was a guy. I’m sure it didn’t help any, but it wasn’t the root of the issue. I digress…

He opened a door to a small dark room and motioned me to go inside. Now, like most socially trained individuals, I reached for a light switch. There wasn’t one. No light switch. Zero ways for me to bring this dark cell up to a comfortable state of illumination allowing me to see my assailant whilst he approaches. This was the first sign of danger.

Andrew, or the shadowy figure that I was assuming was Andrew, told me that I had five minutes to de-robe and lay down face first on the table. He then left. (Note to self: Anytime that someone gives you a time limit for clothing removal – be concerned.) So, logically, I bounced back and forth between planning for my escape and stripping down, accepting my fate. I settled for the latter and laid face down on the table.

5-minutes seemed like forever. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m practically a professional quick change artist or if my nerves made my synapses fire so fast in my brain that each second was drug out over hours. Staring straight down through the headrest at that shadowy detail of the knotty carpet, I couldn’t help but be amused by the ambience of the room. Candles, soothing scents, and some strange sort of jungle music playing at a soft murmur. Alone with my thoughts I started to get lost in the music. It was the strangest sort of rainforest elevator muzak. It was giving me the idea that at any second Tinkerbell was going to whisk me off to Neverland where I would learn to fly. This was not the case. Just as I had started to become mildly comfortable, the door opened.

Oh shit, he’s back! I had nearly forgotten that I had a reservation to be felt up by this guy. To this day I still have yet to think of a situation more vulnerable than this. I was lying in my underwear, face down, in the dark, and a man who I only met 2 minutes before walked in behind me and said –

“Are you ready?”

Jesus Christ.  He made his way around towards my head and all I could see were his feet. Check that: the tops of his shoes. It was at this point that I heard the only sound that would have been more discomforting than the sound of a zipper unzipping. It was the sound of lube. (I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, it’s massage oil, relax!” But when you’re face down with no pants on in a dark room and you can’t see anything – your mind has a way of changing details).

Then, it began. I’m not sure if it was discomfort, confusion, or my cognitive struggle to try and remember everything because I knew I wanted to write about it (perhaps a combination of the three) but – I kind of went black. In a strange half-way state between asleep and awake, jolting into blatant consciousness on the occasion that his sharp, skinny ass elbows started drilling into my spine. I spent the next hour hanging out with Tinkerbell and the Lost Boys, eating a feast of tremendously non-existent food and sharing stories of the high seas that we’d yet to conquer.

60 minutes or 60 years had gone by (jury’s still out) when Tinkerbell said “Our time is up.” I looked at her and watched her transform into Andrew. The masseuse. The odd resentment that I had for him had been washed away. I felt good.

Following the massage and awkward conversation, Andrew gave me a sort of post-game wrap up on the whole experience that, on the surface, seemed insightful but upon revisiting what he said, was actually remarkably redundant.

Andrews evaluation: “You’re lower back and hips are really tight.” – feel free to refer to paragraph 1, where pre-massage, I diagnosed myself in the exact same way. While this was obvious, the next thing he said was much more entertaining – “Do you sit a lot or stand a lot at work?”

Do I what?  Yes. I often sit or stand. I do not often lie around at work. Crouching and Pilates are not part of the traditional office etiquette for me. Stick with massage there, detective. Your powers of deduction are far from fine-tuned.

Now, feeling comfortable and loose, I had to go to the front desk and pay the woman. Doing everything in my power not to sign up for a membership. Although, it would be nice to see Tink again…



Comments are closed.