I’ve always wanted a massage. It’s no wonder — I crave touch. If any human being, be it a serial killer or my grandmother, were to simply start to stroke my head, pressing lightly into my scalp with his or her fingernails, I would stop what I’m doing and curl up in a way to position my head conveniently in the killer or Nani’s lap.
Yesterday, I had my first massage. And while I did not end up with my head in the masseuse’s lap, I did turn into a puddle of happy goo.
Upon entering the salon, I filled out a front-and-back page of personal info — my name, address, telephone number, emergency contact info (in case I was massaged into a coma?), health conditions, stress levels and problem areas. I was also able to request that the masseuse focus on my neck and shoulder blade regions. I tweaked a nerve or pulled a muscle a few years ago when I was doing the wildly strenuous activity of towel-drying my hair in the shower, and things haven’t been the same since; Iaggravate it easily, from sleeping wrong to looking over my shoulder to check my blind spot while driving.
The masseuse, Jennifer, led me into a small, back room with the lights off. The window let in plenty of daylight, and a CD player in the corner played Enya. She excused herself while I undressed and instructed me to get under the sheet on the massage table in the middle of the room.
“Do I keep on my underwear?” I asked, genuinely clueless.
“It’s up to you,” she said. “I don’t mind either way. If you were a guy, I might mind.”
Fair enough. I’m a cotton thong girl, so I doubted that bit of butt floss was going to get in the way of any higher states of relaxation. So I undressed to my purple thong and settled myself in under the sheet.
A few minutes later, Jennifer knocked on the door and let herself in. She retrieved a jar of massage lotion and started in on my right arm. She instructed me to let her know if she was hurting me. I did not say, “I like it hard,” because I didn’t know how to word that without sounding like I was coming on to her. “I like it rough”? “Hurt me”?
As she massaged my arm, I thought, “This feels nice,” but the first bit of “Oh my god what is happening I love you” started when she started to massage, of all things, my hands. She paid attention to the length of each finger and each joint. She rotated my wrist, then rotated my elbow, then my shoulder.
“For flexibility,” she said when I asked what the circles were for. “I don’t want to over-extend you, and I won’t force your body to do anything it can’t.”
When she moved on to my left arm, I couldn’t stop thinking about my right hand. I have never felt so aware of all my fingers. I felt each one, and each felt heavy, in a way that can only be called delicious. Even today, they feel a touch sore, the way muscles feel after a work out.
Jennifer asked if I was nervous.
“Not at all,” I said. “Do people get nervous?”
Apparently she’d recently worked on a man who broke out into a sweat and was tense the entire time, which kind of defeats the purpose of getting a massage.
She moved onto each leg and then, my neck. She seated herself at my head and reached her hands down under my head — I was still lying on my back — to the tops of my shoulder blades and the base of my neck. At the base of my neck at the right side, she paused and asked, “Is this where you hurt yourself? I can feel the knot.”
I kind of thought that was a bunch of baloney, when masseuses said they could feel tension or stress, but she was dead on — it was exactly the spot that was most easily aggravated.
“Am I hurting you?” she asked when I winced.
“Yeah, but it’s not bad,” I said, hoping that didn’t sound too forward of me. “It feels nice.”
When I asked what kind of massage I was getting, Jennifer told me “deep tissue.” The difference between that and Swedish, I learned, was in the type of strokes used. For a Swedish massage, the masseuse uses long, gentle strokes with her whole hand. The goal is to be relaxing. A deep tissue massage, meanwhile, is done more with the fingers, targeting muscles and healing. It’s a bit rougher, and I have to say, I enjoyed it much more than the Swedish demo she gave me on my arm. She also did a third type, the name of which has escaped me, and Google is failing me. It involved her using the tips of her fingers to press into the base of my skull and lift up. She elevated my head like that for about two minutes. It was a little uncomfortable, but it didn’t hurt. I believe the idea is to stretch the neck muscles.
The questions I had that I did NOT ask Jennifer, that I figured out on my own:
- No, she did not massage near my cootchie. She did massage the front of my upper thighs, which required the top of her hand brushing toward my inner thigh, but it was a non-issue.
- No, she did not massage my butt. When she did the backs of my upper thighs, she got a bit of bottom bootie, but, again, this was a non-issue.
- I don’t think I flashed her once throughout the whole process. I was completely covered, save the body part she was working on — my left leg was out from under the sheet, or when she did my back, the sheet was down to my waist, though I was laying on my belly. For an hour-long process that happens in a thong, the experience was one that left me feeling very safe.
- I did not fall asleep. I’m glad — I wanted to be awake for the whole ordeal. In fact, as you may have picked up on, I found myself chatting with Jennifer the whole time. I had no idea getting a massage could be as chatty as getting a hair cut.
* * *
When the massage was over, I don’t think I had anticipated just … how … relaxed … I’d feel. I was a noodle. As I walked to the front to pay, I wondered if I looked stoned.
I got into the car and drove out of the parking lot, and I didn’t have a care in the world. I had to be extra diligent on the drive because, had my car crashed into the median and flipped, I would have been like, “Oh. Cool.”
When I got home and hugged Jeff, I sort of melted against him. If he’d not have caught me, I would have tumbled to the floor — and probably been OK with it.
I’ll be back, that’s for sure. Jennifer told me massages are good for injuries, so the next time I do something evil to my neck or back, I’ll be there.
Maybe I’ll ask Jeff to drive …