A Massage to Forget

I do love an occasional massage, I hold a lot of tension in my shoulders and sometimes, getting the knots worked out, whether you realize they’re there or not, brings great relief.

When you favor the most popular massage therapist at a spa, it is not always easy to book last minute appointments with said therapist. My work schedule is both crazy and unpredictable. I travel a great deal and often don’t know what my calendar will be like two or three weeks in advance. Recently, I had a totally free day, a true rarity, and I thought, “hey, a massage might be nice”. I called the spa and asked if my usual therapist was available. Not for a month, and when the laughter subsided, I was offered an hour and a half appointment with a therapist who was “capable of performing a deep tissue massage”, the way I like it. Great! I booked a time slot and planned my evening around it.

When I showed up at the spa, I was checked in and sent to the waiting room with my little plastic cup of water. I flipped through a worn magazine while the image of the fire in the fireplace flickered on the television mounted on the wall. In the background was the strange, earthy music. Each time I heard footsteps come down the hall, I looked up, anticipating being greeted by the therapist who could give me a deep tissue massage that in any way compared to the one my usual therapist could provide.

After a few minutes, after a few other therapists came down the hall and summoned other clients, my therapist revealed himself. As I sat in anticipation, I heard footsteps approach, they were both gentle and mighty at the same time. In the hallway, filling nearly the entire frame, was a very, very large man of uncertain racial heritage. Black, Samoan, I;m not sure, not that it matters at all. But for those of us bothered with details and observant to the point of obsession, it is something I usually at least make a note of. With a kind, almost timid voice, that in no way matched his size or the sound of his footfalls, he called my name and introduced himself, Tristan. My first thought was, “Oh my God, I’m going to die.”

I followed him down the hallway to the room I was directed, and obediently disrobed to the degree I was comfortable with, as instructed, climbed onto the table, under the sheet. There I waited.Before long, after an extremely gentle knock on the door, my gentle giant of a therapist entered the room. Based on his voice, his walk, his demeanor, I would guess he was gay, not that that matters at all, again, I just make observations about people so when I write about them later, I can fully describe them, and for no other reason.

For a large man with a womanly voice, he certainly did not mince words. He was very direct, at times almost blunt. He asked, forthrightly, whether I liked to chat during my massage, or not. I really don’t like to chat, but I would never be so rude as to say so. I evaded, but hoped to give him the impression that I’d rather just answer questions as needed, and otherwise, sort of zone out. I have been known to fall asleep, just a little, during a massage. That is the point, I find them both relaxing and therapeutic.

And with that, I found myself flattened out beneath his massive hands. then his forearms. I felt like I was between pavement and a steam roller. Deep tissue massage was an understatement. When he asked if the pressure was too much, I was rendered completely unable to respond, for I could not draw in enough breath to force a sound from my mouth. For the next ninety minutes I underwent the most intense “deep tissue” massage I have ever experienced. I would venture to say this was more of a skeletal massage. Tristan commented a few times, unabashedly, that I was incredibly tense, in almost a critical way. I’m sorry, but if you knew for certain that you were about to be crushed under three hundred plus pounds of pressure would you not tense up just a little? I won’t say it was painful, but it most certainly crossed the barrier of pleasant into something more like torture.

Having my hands massaged is one of the highlights of the treatment. Upon massaging my lower right arm and hand, Tristan again broke the silence and asked, in an almost accusatory manner, if I had any behaviors that required repetitive motion of my right hand. My eyebrows shot up, for this could have the same implication for women as it could for men, if your mind works as mine does, anyway. I thought, quickly, and replied that I do text a lot. That satisfied him, or at least no further inquiry was made. Thankfully.

Having never actually been crushed beneath a freight train, I can only imagine what it would feel like. I’d have to say, what I experienced on the massage table that day had to come close. I have never had an elephant sit on my back while lying on a flat, unforgiving surface, again, I can only imagine, but I’m pretty sure it has to be comparable to what I experienced that day. Nor have I ever been run over by a stampede of wild water buffalo on the Serengeti, but if I had to describe it, it would come very close to what I experienced on that massage table that evening. I swear I felt my spine touch my belly button on more than one occasion! At the conclusion of the session, Tristan recommended I have a Swedish massage next time, as it is firm, but not a “deep tissue” massage. Note to self, if Tristan is the only therapist available, Swedish it will be!

For the next week, I limped around like I’d been hit by a bus. I felt like Wylie Coyote must have felt after all the torturous things the roadrunner put him through on those good, old-fashioned, Saturday morning cartoons; grand piano falling on him, a one ton weight dropped from atop a cliff. That is precisely what I felt like.

No doubt, he got all the knots and kinks and tension out of my shoulders and back, but I was certain I’d lost an entire dimension in the process, now being only two dimensional, rather than three.

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