Please Don’t Touch My Feet or Butt
However, I have never had such a peculiar massage like the one performed in one of the massage chains, let’s just call it M.E.
I arrived 15 minutes early (as requested) for my introductory (and discounted) one hour long massage. The girl behind the counter ushered me on a white plastic cushioned couch and handed me a clipboard with several forms.
After I filled in my name and address three times in various sections of the paperwork, I was asked to indicate whether or not I would like a massage in the following regions: abdomen, pectoral muscles and gluteals. So in my head, I translated it to stomach, boobs and butt.
I checked “no” on all of them because I couldn’t fathom an intestinal organ massage neither could I consent to a massage of my reconstructed post mastectomy silicone breasts. As far as the butt, well, I could see a potential benefit but felt uncomfortable with “Ms Helen” kneading my exercise needing gluteals.
I sprung up from the couch to give my paperwork to the desk girl. She glanced at it and with an apologetic smile produced two more papers.
My admission to having been diagnosed with two cancers earned me extra questionnaires. I trailed back to the plastic couch and skimmed the pages. It asked for all the surgeries, all the medications I have been on and still am on, dates of treatments, chemotherapy, everything.
I felt instantly heavy. This was supposed to be a relaxing hour. Not a misery rehashing journal entry. I sighed. I put the pen to the paper and went into autopilot, filling everything in as quickly as I could.
The girl behind the desk must have been watching me because as soon as I finished the last page signature, she walked over and sat down next to me, gently taking the clipboard out of my hands.
“So, I am now going to take you in the back where you can relax and Ms Helen will come get you and discuss your massage with you. Then you will have your 50 minute massage.”
Whooa! What? What did she mean by 50 minutes? I signed up for one hour. Isn’t that why I arrived 15-20 minutes early? So we take care of all the bureaucracy and explanations? I frowned and felt annoyance rise up from my stomach to my face.
After I froze in the back waiting room for a few minutes, Ms. Helen, who turned out to be an older Asian lady, came to get me.
In the massage room, she looked at my paperwork for about 10 seconds and I knew she couldn’t have read my meticulously filled out cancer saga.
“So, here, it say…” She struggled with English. “No gluteal? Yes?’
“Right.” I said. “No gluteals, no pecs, no abdomen.”
She studied the sheet a little more.
“And feet?” She looked up hopefully.
“No, thanks, I don’t like my feet massaged. It’s OK.”
Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open a little bit. She stared at me. I stared back at her.
“So…feet…?” Her voice fluttered and her head nodded.
“NO.” I said sternly. “No feet. No feet.” And I made a sweeping sideways motion with my hands and shook my head side to side. “No feet.”
Her face brightened and she nodded in apparent understanding.
She left the room and I got undressed and lay on the not so comfy and cheap looking massage bed. I put my head into the head rest.
Immediately, blood rushed in my brain and hummed in my ears. I lifted my head and noticed the head rest screws were lose and wouldn’t hold the doughnut in place.
I scooted down a little and just rested my head on the massage bed itself. Ms. Helen came back in and after another broken conversation I conveyed my problem to her. To my surprise, she magically fixed the head rest so that it held my head at an acceptable level.
I wondered about my silicone breasts. This was a first massage since my reconstruction. Since I lay on my stomach, they felt very flattened and I imagined little ripples spreading through the implant, the silicone coming loose and reacting with surrounding tissue until I would be in a toxic shock and die right there with Ms. Helen mistakenly massaging my feet.
None of that happened and the massage began after Ms. Helen’s repeated inquiry if I really did not want my butt massaged.
She swept her hands over the sheet on my back for about a minute.
Then she (and I can only imagine that’s what she did) laid her forearm on one side of my back and leaned in. Full force. She leaned in so much I couldn’t take a breath.
My eyes sprung open. What was she doing? Before I ran out of oxygen, she switched sides and lay on the other half of my back. I blinked a few times, confused.
I felt the vein on the side of my head pulsing. I marked on one of the many papers I filled out earlier that I wanted a light massage. Ms. Helen either didn’t read it or didn’t understand the word “light” in English.
Then she proceeded to spread some lotion on my back. She did it very quickly and I felt like a child on the beach getting hurriedly slathered with sunscreen.
She started kneading my back with gusto. Every time she got to the kidney area, I tensed, but thankfully she let go of some of her steam and lightened the pressure a little.
She repeated the laying-on-me move again. This time she pushed even more with her elbow.
Suddenly, her arm slipped and I felt my muscle stumble over another muscle or a bone or whatever was in my back. All I know is that it hurt.
“Oh…sorry.” She said but repeated the same move on the other side of my back.
By now, I was in full alert. I kept readjusting my head in the headrest and hoped that Ms. Helen changed the towel the headrest was wrapped in after every customer.
I was asked to turn around and face up. I complied happily. I thought she couldn’t possibly lie on my stomach or squeeze me that hard now.
Ms. Helen proceeded to clamp her hands on the sides of my neck. I imagined my chemo port being ripped out of the vein by this pressure and blood from my jugular spraying the not so cozy massage room.
When I was about to say something, she unclamped her fingers and went on to press on various points of my head with her thumbs. It felt like she wanted to burrow holes from one side of my brain to another.
Then, out of the blue, she stuck her point fingers in my ears.
My eyes flew open. I felt like a skewered pig on the roast. I didn’t dare move. What kind of a massage move was this?
I was relieved when she moved on to my legs. She again hastily slathered less then optimal amount of lotion on them. Then she touched my feet.
NO! Let go! NO FEET! I squirmed a little.
“It’s OK, no feet.” I mumbled and pulled my foot out of her hand.
She stared at me with her mouth open and with a completely confused look.
Soon afterwards the massage concluded. I suddenly had a stuffed nose and was cold again.
Ms Helen handed me a cup of water when I exited the room. No cucumber flavor, just plain old water I noticed with disappointment. I felt bad for her and tipped her anyway.
The girl at the front desk intercepted me and made me sit on the plastic couch again.
What now? I was annoyed.
She went on to pitch me a monthly membership deal for a ridiculously high price. I declined all of it and paid my intro rate for the massage I just had.
I walked outside into the sunshine and moved my shoulders around. There was a strange new kink on the left side of my back. I turned around to look at the purple massage place logo and frowned. No, I didn’t think I was going to come back. Ever. Again.