pretzel.jpg

My luck with massages has been inconsistent.

The first time was when my then-wife and I went on holiday to Montreal.  She was going back to the hotel room for a nap and I was too wired to sleep.  So, having seen a sign in the elevator advertising their massage service, I said “you know what?  I’m going to have a massage.”

She shrugged her shoulders.  “OK”

And so off I went.

Not knowing a thing about massage, I expected it would be a relaxing experience.   “I’ll probably end up falling asleep and missing the whole thing” I thought.

I truly didn’t think I had any expectations as to what the masseuse would look like, but I have to tell you:  I was totally unprepared for what showed up.

An older gentleman of suspicious girth greeted me at the door.

Well, grunted, more like.

He had hair growing out of his nostrils and ears.  All grey.

None on his head, of course.  Hey, all of that orifice hair had to come from somewhere, right?

And I noticed that his freakishly muscular arms hung much lower than normal folks’ arms.  Well past his humongous belly.  A belly that jiggled this way and that as he moved around.

It was a fascinating belly, really. It moved about a half second after he did, every time.  And it scared the hell out of me.

There was no doubt.  This was the legendary Missing Link.

I briefly thought about fleeing.  But I realized I was being ridiculous.  And besides – I figured, “in for a penny, in for a pound.”  I was here.  Might as well make the best of it.

“Take clothes off” he growled.

“Um, ok” I muttered.

“Hmph” he replied.

So I did.  And then I crawled up onto the table.

“Face down!” he ordered.

So I faced down.

“Leaving underpants on.”

(I didn’t know if that was an observation or a question.  So I treated it like a rhetorical question and said nothing)

(Oh, and I left them on.)

He started in on me.  Quick and painfully.  He pushed and pulled and prodded and pressed in hard.  He found muscles that weren’t there before.  And they all cried “uncle”

Relaxing?

Yeah, I suppose if you’re a masochist.  In which case it was as relaxing as hell.  I felt like that guy at the top of this post – a human pretzel.

I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

Part of me – the part that had compartmentalized itself away from the pain and the welling tears – laughed.  This was so far removed from what I thought massage would be about that it was just hilarious.

When he was done, and after I paid for the torture session, I slowly hobbled back to our room.

“What happened to you? asked my wife.

“Massage”

“Well you don’t look anymore relaxed.”

I stared at her.   “No.  No, I suppose not” I said.

******

There have been many massages since then.  Most of them were good.

You learn a few things along the way.  A “relaxing massage” isn’t worth much if the goal is to get rid of aching muscles.  For that, you need a deep tissue massage, provided by a qualified therapist.  Anything less than that and you’re going to get tickled – and that’s just irritating.

I don’t mean you need to go through torture either.

Some massages were provided by people who just didn’t know how to do it, and I found those were a waste of money.

I woke up this morning with my shoulder in spasm.  Try as I might – there was no amount of stretching that would get the kink out.  So, after attending a seminar in town, I walked past a hotel and noticed the word “Spa” in the window.  Being an intuitive sort, I surmised this meant they provided services such as facials, manicures, pedicures, mud wraps and oh yes oh yes – MASSAGE.  I went inside.

“How much for an hour” I asked the cheerful receptionist.

In her cheerful way, she replied “oh it’s only $140.00″ blinky-blink.

I looked at her.

She looked back at me, all smiles.

My muscles spasm nudged me in annoyance.

“I’ll take it” I said.

“Of course sir”

She gave me a medical form to fill out and then showed me the way to the locker room.

“Here’s your key.  There’s a robe in the locker and some sandals.  Put those on, and go down to the waiting area, and your massage therapist will greet you there”, she said, still smiling.

I did all of that.

A gay gentleman greeted me and took the medical form.  (At least, I think he was gay.  He smiled at me too.  Much too much.  Maybe he was just being friendly though.  He might not have been gay, now that I think about it.  He may have been high.)

“How are you today sir?”

“Fine thanks.  My girlfriend insisted I get a massage today”  (I don’t have a girlfriend.  He might not have been gay.   I wasn’t taking any chances)

“That’s great, sir.  Can I get you a glass of water while you wait?”

“Sure.” I said.

“Would you like lemon or lime with that?”

(Really?)

“I’ll take lemon, please”

“It would be my pleasure”

(Sure it would)

He gave it to me.  I relaxed as much as possible in my robe.

This was nice.

The treatment so far was so far above what I was used to, that I thought there was no way I was going to leave that place with aching muscles.

This tiny woman showed up, smiling.

“Pleased to meet you, Wolf.  My name is Glenna” she said, putting her hand forward.

I shook it.  “Same here, Glenna.”

“Shall we go in?

“After you” I said.

After outlining the massage plan, she left me to disrobe and crawl beneath the blanket and sheet.   The music was soft and relaxing.  I could smell aromatherapy scents.

I heard a slight hesitant knock at the door.   “Can I come in?”

“I’m all set” I replied.

She said “I know we agreed that you wanted a deep massage.  Just let me know if I need to go deeper or lighter OK?”

“OK” I said.

She pressed all the way down my back through the sheet.  Hard.

“I’m going to go deeper” she said.  “This is just to get the muscles loosened up”

Right.  OK.

Then she pulled the sheet back, oiled up my back and her hands and she started in on me.

Flashback.

Mean, old guy with too-long arms, grinding away at my back.

This tiny therapist was doing exactly the same.  Only this time, I had experience as a reference.

Instead of tensing up this time, I relaxed as much as possible.

She found every single out-of-place muscle.  And each time she did, she stayed on that spot, pushing her dagger-like elbow right into it.  I knew this was necessary in order for the offending muscle to loosen.

Still, it hurt like hell.

I did not grimace.

I did not yell.  And in fact I barely grunted.   All there was, was a huff of breath when she hit those spots, elbows a-blazing.

Then she got to my shoulders.  She kneaded and ground the muscles around my shoulders like so much hamburger.  She grabbed my shoulders like they were trying to get away from her.  She pinched them hard each time.

My face went all shades of red.  I could feel it.  I briefly clenched my fists, but then loosened them.

When she moved down my back I sighed in relief.

But then she came back up and hit those spots again.

This tiny woman was beating the holy living hell out of me.   And I was saying nothing.  I was paying for the privilege.

The music played on.

“Should I go deeper?” she asked, so sweetly.

“NO!!”   I heard the panic in my voice.  “I mean, no.  This is fine”

(It wasn’t.  But there were appearances to maintain, so I wasn’t going to ask her to go lighter)

Finally, after an hour of this, she was done.  As was I.

I paid, and thanked her and left.

And when I got home, I started noticing multiple bruises on my shoulders and neck.

War wounds.

I believe I counted about five bruises.

Which roughly works out to $28.00 per bruise.

In todays’ economy, that’s not too bad.

I guess.

Comments
  1. I’m a bit of a masochist, I guess, because I like deep tissue massage and don’t mind the bruises. I had my first massage about two years ago and have only had a few since because I really do not like to be touched by strangers and I can’t seem to get past that. It doesn’t matter to me what they look like and I don’t care about sexual orientation, at all. I mean, I wouldn’t care if the masseuse looked like Robert Downey Jr., or David Duchovny (both yummy), or the Hunchback from Notredam (not yummy). I wouldn’t care if it was a mustached lesbian… you get my point.

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      I like deep tissue massage too – prefer it actually. I don’t think (for me) it needs to go so far as bruising though. That’s over the line.

      I do get your point.

      For me it’s a homophobic thing I suppose. Ingrained in me since my dad first questioned the sexual orientation of every friend I ever had. *grin* So, you see – it’s his fault. At any rate, I think at this point it’s a societal thing: guys don’t even look at each other in the locker room, in case the other guy thinks he might be looking a little *too* closely. And men’s washrooms are the quietest places you’ll ever be in, even when it’s filled with guys. Say, like at the end of a movie. I think most women would giggle at the scene really. We don’t talk, don’t look each other in the eye, don’t look down (except at our own junk when we need to in order to aim properly). We wash our hands quietly and then we get the hell out of there.

      So you can be *damned* sure I’m not in favour of any guy giving me a bare-assed massage.

      “Does it feel good when I do this, Mr. Wolf?”
      *grunt*
      “How about when I do this?”
      “um, you’re enjoying this aren’t you?”
      “Why yes – I just LOVE my job, all to pieces.”
      “Right then, thanksthatwasswellseeyougoodbye”

      Like

      • It makes me sad that so much of our society is still homophobic. My grandma was a racist. I remember when we brought our newly adopted mixed-race (black) baby to see her and Grandma fingered our daughter’s spiral curls and said, “She’s dark but beautiful.” Then she kissed our baby on the cheek, handed her back to me and tut-tutted, “At least we know she’s white.”

        Grandma was in her 90′s at the time and didn’t catch that our daughter was adopted or mixed race. It was both horrible and funny. People have scolded me for laughing about it but she was born at the turn of the century when racial prejudice was the norm. It’s all she ever knew and she never got past it. Grandma wasn’t big on personal growth.

        I see homophobia like that. My husband is likewise homophobic and it comes from the environment in which he was raised. His dad was a harsh military man with zero tolerance for homosexuality. As much as my husband wants to override that, he gets uncomfortable around flamboyantly gay men. I actually understand it and I’m not going to go crazy judging him or you or anyone else. I get so frustrated by people who jump on the YOU’RE NOTHING BUT AN IGNORANT HATER train. Please. We’re products of society.

        I don’t have a homophobic bone in my body but then I’m a girl and I don’t recall homosexuality ever being discussed in our house when I was growing up. By the time I was 16 I had several gay guy friends (closeted) and I felt such compassion for them and the brutal world they were living in. The late 80′s wasn’t a great time to be gay.

        Walk into any movie theater today and if you see straight men together they will invariably have a seat between them and their bodies will be oriented in opposite directions. If they’re with women they MIGHT end up side-by-side but usually they can maneuver it so they’ve got women between them. What is that? It’s residual, subconscious cultural homophobia at play.

        Living overseas we saw men walking hand-in-hand in several countries and it was a bit disconcerting. They weren’t gay. It was just a cultural difference. I know there are myriad reasons why men keep their physical distance and they are NOT all due to homophobia but I think it’s a factor.

        Like

        • wolfshades says:

          I laughed when you mentioned the movie theater, because I know you’re absolutely right. Western society has pre-determined that males require extra personal space, when in close proximity with other males. When it’s females it’s quite different.

          Of course, when you mention the hand-holding thing…..the fact is we don’t hold hands with women here either – unless we have a romantic thing going on with them. So that sort of transcends the homophobe deal just a little bit.

          I just think we’re pretty much a repressed gang of people on this continent, unable to appreciate affection without going into the lurid every time. We are so weird that way, when you think about it.

          I’ve met some of those ancient racists too. They’re cute, even while they’re being horrible. Mostly because they (the ones I’ve run into, that is) really don’t have an angry bone in their body. They are completeliy obvlivious to the potential harm their viewpoint brings to the table. So I’d have to say we’re progressing as a society but oh my God we’ve got a long way to go yet.

          Like

          • I met a girl from New Zealand when I was living in Hawaii and we became friends after she got over the fact that I reminded her of an American Cheerleader and I got over the fact that she seemed just wayyyyy to cool (not a compliment). At that point in my life I really didn’t like people to touch me because every touch FELT sexual to me (long story, negative life experience).

            She told me to get over it and proceeded to drape herself all over me everywhere we went. LOL She’d grab my hand and hold it while we were walking along the road hitchhiking. She’d throw her leg over mine while we were watching TV. She was ALWAYS playing with my hair. She was incredibly guarded which is where the “cool” came from but once you got past that she was like a kid. Part of it was cultural. When I went to stay with her in New Zealand I saw women holding hands everywhere. No big deal – at least back then it wasn’t.

            She ended up being my Maid of Honor when I got married a few years later. When my husband first met Rachel, just prior to our wedding, he was taken aback by the way she’d grab my hand and pull me along but he was quickly charmed by it.

            She died of cancer about ten years ago and I miss her hugely. I miss the fact that she was unashamedly affectionate – zero subtext, just… innocent and lovely.

            I think for Americans a lot of our fear of touching one another stems from our puritan roots (think Salem Witch Trails, The Scarlett Letter…). Our ancestors lived their lives in fear of the devil and the devil was in our skin.

            Like I said, there are many reasons why we’re afraid to touch from our puritanical origins to our cultural homophobia (also born from our puritanical roots).

            Your blog was lighthearted. I have no idea what I’m doing. *wry smile* I’ll shut up now.

            Like

            • wolfshades says:

              See, I’ve seen that dynamic with some women, and, while it’s startling at first, you can easily warm to it. I can’t even picture that with guys here though. I’ve seen it on film from other countries notably India and in one instance, Italy.

              But if that happened between men here in Canada there would only be one conclusion, with zero room for anything else.

              Oddly, other cultures which are even less tolerant of gays are transporting their prejudices here too.

              We recently had an election for city council here in Toronto. Ultimately it became a race between two men, one of whom was gay. Smitherman and Ford, gay and straight, respectively. (The race had NOTHING to do with sexual orientation, and ultimately had everything to do with money (taxes) management.)

              A Muslim guy in our office decided to go to an advanced election booth, and then came into work the next day, all proud that he had voted for Smitherman. When asked why he voted for him, he said “well I didn’t want to vote for Ford because I didn’t want to vote for the gay man.”

              Of course he was horrified when he learned that he had indeed voted for “the gay man.”. And we all laughed our asses off. :)

              Like

  2. Jay Bird says:

    I got to the end and all I was thinking was “But did it fix the problem?” D: It sounds like it did. I’m not sure. :P

    I’ve been going to a chiropractor lately so when I saw you having shoulder problems I was curious. For me it turns out my spine is all out of whack, my left hip is too high and my right shoulder has raised to compensate. The result is a subtle, but painful curve to the left in my spine, which causes muscles all over the place to tighten to try and keep my back straight in spite of a curved spine. I’m kind of glad I was lured in for a free diagnostic by a free massage right before an exam. They were giving them at a booth in the student’s union building. I was hoping to reduce the distractions I have during my exam. Sore backs are distracting eh?

    Anyways, where was I going with this… oh yeah. If after all that your shoulder is still bugging you I suggest you go see a chiropractor! Yay, tangents!

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      It fixed the problem. She was that good. It also hurt though.

      Sore backs bite the big one. Fortunately I’m not plagued with one, as some of my friends are. I’ve had extreme lower back pain once in my life, and it didn’t last long – just long enough to wonder how some people ever put up with having it for extensive periods of time. They *suck*.

      In my case, I’m pretty sure I slept wrong. That’s all it was. But it was enough to put me off of my kibble for the day.

      Tangents are my blog are *just* *fine*, Jay. Only because you’re in good company. This is an entirely ADD-friendly zone right here. :) (BTW, having finally been diagnosed, I’m on my way shortly to get working on it with my doctor. Along with some cognitive therapy. I am *so* looking forward to it!)

      Like

  3. Emilee says:

    “And they all cried ‘uncle’”
    Ha ha ha, ooooh, so funny!

    So, you can afford $140 for a massage?
    Will you marry me?

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      *laughing* Of course I’ll marry you. How soon can you get here?

      I’ll get the yacht out of dry dock, and maybe get Jeeves to whip us up a batch of 30 year old scotch. :) Where shall we live? Your mansion or mine? If yours has any less than 30 rooms and ten washrooms, you should sell it.

      Speaking of money, I should probably buy a new wallet, or have Jeeves carry my money. The one I have won’t hold it all and it’s starting to rip……

      Like

      • e says:

        Love,
        (Best to call you “love” now that we’re betrothed and all, you know, since I don’t actually know your name).
        You live in Canada, right? Do you say “surry” instead of sorry? Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter, our house will be big enough that I won’t have to actually listen to you.

        Seriously though, this was the most entertaining post you’ve done in a long time. Long time is actually recent since I didn’t know about your blog until the last month … gasp, speaking of which, that can be kind of like our anniversary! Mwahahahaha.

        Since you are a Canadian, I’ve got to tell you that you guys have really good candy. My brother lived in Canada for two years and he sent me a wonderbar once. Am I spelling that right?
        Changed my life.

        Like

        • wolfshades says:

          I believe it’s “Wunderbar”. Cadbury’s is – or was – a Canadian company that produces all kinds of great chocolate bar. It’s been ages since I had some.

          I just said “sorry” out loud just now, to see what it sounded like. Comes out “saury” actually.

          *laughing* You got me with the “house will be so big” line.

          Like

  4. Chickee says:

    Ok My dogs and I think maybe the people next door think I am insane now. I was loudly laughing my booty off while reading this. I have never gotten a full body massage. Deep tissue is not for me, unless it would be for medical reasons. Noway! I don’t want someone leaving bruises on me unless I am actively involved in a little b and d.

    I trained to give facial, neck and scalp massages while in school and actually got better grades when my patrons fell asleep. Back then (late 80s) I thought that giving massages was fun so I applied at a local spa. I was told I would be trained in all types of massage and then they would choose a specialty for me. But when I found out I’d have to massage naked old men I never went back for the formal interview. LoL I think it was a good thing becasue a few years alter that place was busted for giving extra special massage therapy. hehee

    Oh and Wolfie, Like I used to tell my ex when we were married, just because he’s gay doesn’t mean he’s looking at you! LOL =)

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      Well, all girls I meet want me, so it stands to reason that all gays want me too.

      *smirk*

      I give some pretty decent neck massages too, but could never get into it formally for much the same reason you mention: I do *not* want to massage dusty and naked old men.

      Honest to God: ew

      Like

  5. TheIdiotSpeaketh says:

    (Hurriedly scratching massage off my bucket list!) Thanks buddy! My desire to someday have my first professional massage and is now gone forever AND you saved me a bucket of money in the process! Thanks! Now, if you don’t mind….do a post on the joys of skydiving so I can scratch that off my list :)

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      *grin* Oh no. I’ve given out the completely wrong message!

      Massage can be a great thing if it’s done right. Unlike me, what you have to do when they’re hurting you is speak up. I could have saved myself a few bruises had I done so.

      Nice to walk into those places with a sore back and walk out afterwards feeling like a million bucks.

      Skydiving is the *bomb* man!

      (Poor choice of words?)

      Like

  6. Abe's Blog says:

    I’ve been told I give a pretty good massage myself, probably those piano hands and the fact that I can feel the knots and figure out how to get rid of them without causing pain. But I have never had a massage given to me that was done right. I wonder how that would be. I would be pretty frustrated if I paid 3 days wages for a massage, only to be inflicted by pain. Call me a weenie…go ahead, call me one, I don’t care!

    Like

  7. Mikey says:

    I have yet to have a professional massage…. I have a gift certificate on my desk that my gf gave me for one, that I haven’t cashed in…. yet…. I’ve given and received many “unprofessional” massages, and always enjoy them, but they always feel…. personal.

    I did have a pain a few weeks ago, just before I had knee surgery. I’m sure I was stressed out. It was right between my shoulderblade and my spine, and was paralyzingly sharp. And I have a very high tolerance for pain. Probably not baby birthing tolerance, but still…. anyway…. My gf had talked to me before about seeing a chiropractor. I went in for this visit, and about 20 minutes of muscle stimulation (to tire out the tight muscles) and a good upper back adjustment later, the pain was gone.

    Gone.

    As in, didn’t come back.

    20 minutes to go from moving slowly so I didn’t jar it to….. just walking. Insurance paid for the visit, but I’d have gladly spent $140 or so for the pain to go away.

    Just saying – next time (if there is a next time) something like that happens, you might be better served seeing a chiropractor than a masseuse. If you find a good one, they will evaluate you and then won’t do anything if they don’t think they can help you.

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      “baby birthing tolerance”. *laughing* I’ll have to remember that one.

      Interesting testimonial about the chiropractor. I went to see a few different ones for another reason (migraine) but it didn’t help.

      In this case, it was definitely a matter of muscle tension, and despite the bruising and painful pinched shoulders, the masseuse actually did work out the knots in my back. Although I did have to see another one a week later – and this time, I came away without pain. Both the original back pain was gone and there was no pain brought about as a result of the massage either.

      If I ever do get sharp pain such as you experienced, I’ll definitely keep the chiropractor in mind.

      Like

  8. I hate massages. For all the reasons you mentioned, I never enjoy them. I always end up laughing. Plus I feel bad so I feel like I should start talking, and the next thing I know they’re giving me phsycic readings while tenderizing my back muscles. It’s never enjoyable.
    Some people just aren’t made for that kind of thing.
    Give me a steam room, silence, and a bottle of water. Then I’m happy.

    Like

    • wolfshades says:

      I normally enjoy them. This one was…..exceptional. :)

      I used to feel obligated to talk. Until I didn’t. Now, if they want to chat, and I don’t want to, I won’t. No guilt. They get paid enough, and the good ones don’t mind respecting silence. If ever I get attitude back? It’ll be my last visit to that one.

      I think they know that too.

      Like

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