My latest experiment in trying new things nearly failed completely. In order to fully understand how a perfectly good activity came close to becoming a colossal failure, I need to tell you a story.
My 15th anniversary was last week. My wife spent a great deal of time and effort to come up with a really unique and interesting present, and told me Friday that I had an appointment Saturday afternoon, and to avoid making other plans.
I should make it clear here - I do not like surprises, especially when I know they're coming but I don't know what they are. From the time I found out about my appointment to the time I actually left the house, I was worried. I know my wife has my best interests at heart, and I know she put a lot of thought into this surprise, but even the most well-meant gestures can go horribly awry.
And they did. It turns out that the surprise was a one-hour Swedish massage. With a dude. Now, maybe I'm old-fashioned, but up to this point, there are two scenarios in which I want another person to have hands on my naked back:
1) I am about to do the horizontal hula with the person in question.
2) This is a medically necessary procedure performed by someone who has been to at least eight years of secondary education, and hopefully I will be drugged into a stupor.
Obviously, a massage from a dude fits neither of these qualifications. In fact, a massage from anyone other than my wife falls far outside either of these factors, unless the massage is extraordinarily expensive and has what is commonly called a 'happy ending,' and is delivered by an attractive woman wearing just a smile. Then it's pretty close to that first one, and we could probably let that slide.
Now, in my wife's defense, she did think about the gender of my intended masseuse. The way she saw it, she would want a female back-rubber, so it would make sense that, in order to remove the sex factor, I would also want a masseuse whose gender matches my own. She was very wrong, as I indicated when I ran out of the salon like it was on fire upon discovering that I was going to be naked while a man rubbed me all over.
Needless to say (or maybe it's not needless, but I need to be clear on this anyway), the massage did not occur on the date intended. No amount of friendly persuasion was going to convince me that I wanted some hairy-backed man to rub oil into my naked body. I left the salon as quickly as I could, thinking impure thoughts about loose women to purge the visual of the narrowly avoided man-rub.
However, I have been trying to experience new things, and after further reflection, I decided that I may have been a little hasty in dismissing the idea of a professional massage completely. After all, James Bond gets massages, though the back-rubbers in the movies are always, ALWAYS women. And in James Bond movies, they're also hot, but I'm able to separate film from reality. I decided that I could get a massage, as long as the person giving it to me is a woman. She could be a 40-year old blocky Russian weight-lifter with a mustache, as long as she is currently female.
So I scheduled the massage again, this time with a female. With a week to prepare myself mentally, I walked into the salon confidently, ready for whatever indignity they could heap upon me. It turns out that aside from having to wear dorky shower shoes and a robe while I sat in a comfortable wicker chair and drank a glass of water, there was really no indignity. Just pure awesome.
You've seen movies, so you're probably familiar with the process of getting a massage. You lay on your stomach with your face in a little donut, and this woman comes in and rubs your back. And legs. And feet. And shoulders. And pretty much every other piece of exposed flesh that would not be covered by your standard pair of Fruit of the Looms. I don't know about every other masseuse in the country, but this woman was GOOD. I was so relaxed by the end of the massage, I thought I was going to melt. When she was done, I felt better in places I didn't know I was hurting. I was so loose, I felt like I was 25 again.
Now, there are a few things to consider if you're going to schedule a massage for yourself. First, it's prohibitively expensive. I might be able to save a couple bucks by going to some hack in a strip mall, but frankly, if I'm going to spoil myself rotten, I'm going to the place where they offer me a glass of wine and a relaxation room. Which means I won't be doing that again very soon, because I have bills.
Second, you absolutely cannot be self-conscious. Whoever you choose to rub you down, they're going to see every part of you. If you hate letting people see that mole on the back of your leg, or the broken toe that points the wrong way, or the cyst right below your ass cheek, stay home and take a warm bath. I spent the first ten minutes wondering what this lady thought of my tattoos, and then five minutes wondering how she felt about the hair on my back, and then 45 minutes not giving a rat's ass because I was experiencing Nirvana (and not Smells Like Teen Spirit, shotgun to the face Nirvana, either). If I had been overly concerned about the hair in my ears or the bald spot on my head, I never would have been able to relax. Happily, I don't really care who sees the patchy carpet on my shoulders or the glare from the back of my head, so this was pretty easy.
Third, hygiene is an absolute must. Shower before you go. Wash your hair. Clip your nails, and while you're at it, use the little scraper tool to remove that black gunk that gets stuck underneath your toenails. The last thing you want, while you're being reduced to a gelatin-like state, is to make the masseuse throw up. Sure, she's probably seen someone more disgusting than you, but do you really want to compete for that top spot?
Finally, drink a lot of water, both before you go and after. I did not do this. I didn't really think about it, because until the big day, the only time I had ever given or received a back rub it was with the intent and/or hope of getting laid. It turns out that a professional massage releases all this crap out of your muscles, and does some Harry Potter voodoo all over your lymphatic system to clean out your body. And if you let all that crap flood out of your muscles and then don't drink enough water to flush it (and I mean literally flush it, unless you're one of those 'if it's yellow let it mellow' people), all that crap goes back where it came from, and three hours later you've got a headache, your back is tied up like a hangman's noose and you're about one greasy donut away from puking up an alien life form.
I am really glad I decided to take advantage of the massage. It's not the manliest thing I ever did, but it sure was cool. I'm also really glad I picked a female, because there were times during that massage that I'm pretty sure a dude would have had his junk in my ear. And more importantly, the only way I want a man to make me feel that good is if he's injecting me with morphine (and then that's all - just the morphine, then he leaves).
I will definitely be getting another massage at some point. I don't know when, because I'm going to have to save up to afford another one, but I know I want to do it again. I never wanted one before I got one, and now I can't wait to do it again. I daresay a Swedish massage is better than a hooker - it lasts longer, costs less, and provides virtually no opportunity to contract a venereal disease. Not that I have a basis for comparison.
Feel like a million bucks
Get treated like a celebrity James Bond
Better than a hooker
If you don't drink a lot of water, it will hurt later