Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rub you (the right way).

In January, at the end of a particularly long work day, my boss came to my desk with an envelope. Inside was a gift card for a spa. I wasn't aware, but her "token of appreciation" had ulterior motives. My wonderful and caring boss was trying to tell me something...
I needed to chill the fuck out.

I took the card home, and stuffed it in my scarf drawer until two weeks ago, when shit really hit the fan. In my industry, it is common to burn out after a long period of stress. After a stretch of long work hours, plus a number of personal and professional crises, I felt like hell. I looked like hell. It was tough to get up in the mornings, and even tougher to drag myself through a ten-hour day of taking care of other people when I couldn't even take care of myself.

"Sarah", my boss said, "Have you used that gift card yet?"

I went home and had to google what happens inside a spa. That's how green I was to the concept of self-care. The menu was disappointing to say the least. I was seeking something like "pay us $40 to sit alone in a warm, quiet room for an hour with lots of nice pillows and NO ENYA", but instead I found a bunch of treatments that would not be of any benefit to my personal situation.
Manicures? No point. I wash my hands a bare minimum of forty times a day, and my natural inclination, despite the fact that I will be turning thirty soon, would be to get sparkles or smiley faces airbrushed onto the tips (probably a poor career move).
Pedicures? I just can't wrap my head around someone spending an hour's worth of attention on my feet, and guess what? Feet are disgusting. Even mine.
Facials? No amount of attention to my face would rectify the years and years of binge drinking, smoking cherry-flavored papers, and the fact that I can barely force myself to drink a full glass of water in a day (beyond the water used to make cup after cup of delicious coffee). Not even worth the effort.
What's left on the spa menu? One thing. A massage.

Now, I was a kid of the eighties and early nineties. Thus, I was in the most susceptible demographic to have the crap scared out of me by the millions of PSAs that were on TV every single day. If you would've told me, up until a few years ago, that you had let a stranger rhythmically rub their hands all over your naked body, I would've told you to go get tested at the free clinic, and to call the police immediately. If you had told me you had paid for such a service, I would've recommended you to a good psychiatrist. You have to protect your bathing-suit area, kiddo!
Yes, I certainly had some hangups about getting this massage. It took me another week to get up the balls to book an appointment. The woman on the other end of the phone had to ask me to 'relax' while I gave her my personal information. Uhhh... That's what I'm trying to do, dude. I was nervous and full of questions, and I hadn't even stepped in the place yet.

They had me fill out a form when I got there. It asked me where I hurt the most. I handed back a nearly-blank form. They didn't have check-boxes for "need to erase the memory of the fact that some of my co-workers are terrible", or "need to stop waking up in the middle of the night, remembering that one of our pregnant teens has a 7AM ultrasound that they will most certainly forget about". The massage therapist ('masseuse', I was told, is a term only used at the many, many rub'n tug establishments in town) took me into a small room and sat me down to ask more questions. Of course, I took this time to tell her that I worked a very stressful job, and put my little body through a lot of abuse over years of trudging to and from work. Did you know that 10-year-old Keds are not a sturdy walking shoe? Not that I care, or anything...
I also took this little question-and-answer period as a great chance to do my own meticulous inspection of the place. I checked under the massage therapist's nails for dirt, checked the floor for dust, checked the table for boogers, and double-checked to ensure that the woman that was about to fondle my unclothed body was not giving off any "rape-y vibes". If I was getting naked in this room, it better be sanitary and safe.

The actual massage was alright. Mostly, it felt oily and a little rough. The music sucked. I chatted neurotically through the entire process. I had her explain each and every maneuver she was doing, and why it was clinically necessary. She kept having to warn me that the process would not be beneficial if I kept tensing up immediately after she had worked on an area. It was probably the most painful ninety minutes of her life, but, hey, she made $120 dollars off of my bare, anxious body. In the scheme of things, it was not all for naught; I looked in the mirror on the way out, and noticed that I looked taller! Also, did you know that I actually have a neck? Me neither!

All in all, it was not a terrible experience, but I still can't shake the fact that the massage would have been so much more enjoyable if performed by the master himself, Mr Johnny Gill. He would rub anyone the right way- I am sure of it. Satisfaction easily guaranteed. He says so himself.

Maybe I should start taking Ativan again instead. That shit was like a massage, but in a convenient pill-form. Aaaaaaativan. It even sounds relaxing.

~sarah p.

p.s. My father was a music lover, and would sit with us and watch the new videos on MuchMusic when we were kids. I can distinctly remember the air thicken in the room with awkwardness whenever this video would come on the screen. The same feeling would cloud the room when my parents heard me listening to R. Kelly's 12 Play album, when watching the scenes in The Bodyguard where Kevin Costner kept plowing Whitney Houston, and when we'd stumble across Madonna's Sex book at the library with my mom. I didn't know it then, but that feeling was a natural barrier that eventually drew a safe boundary between my parents and my personal life in my adulthood. I am so thankful for those moments now- particularly when my parents ask me what I did on the weekend, and I am under no obligation whatsoever to tell them the truth. I don't want them to know, and they don't want to know anyway. I like it that way. Hurrah for uncomfortable childhood memories!


Ron said...

As usual, I laughed hysterically and enjoyed this very much. As usual.

~sarah p. said...

Thanks, pal. You're the best!