Last summer, when I had major surgery a friend of mine had given me a gift certificate for a foot massage.
I just decided to use it today.
It is called HEAVENS FOOTSTEPS (or something to do with feet...)
En-route, I am talking to another friend telling her my destination, when she says, "Oooh a massssagggjuh?"
I retort," No. Not that kind.
I don't like strangers to touch me.
Besides this will just be my feet...although I don't really know, how much you can do with feet for a whole hour?
But that is what the certificate says."
(My first experience as you can tell.)
The poster on the window reassures me. (Sorry about the glare)
When I arrive, I walk in to see reclining looking chairs with foot rests and am relieved I was right.
That is, until the masseuse says to follow him into a darkened room with two chiropractor-like tables.
Boy was I wrong!
After placing my items in a basket (so much for the book I brought to read), he directs me to lay face down on the table.
If I wasn't tense and in need of relaxation before, I sure am now!
Being in my favorite state, Denial, I am thinking, this is a strange way to do a foot massage.
But he is the expert right?
I put my face on these Bounty Quicker-picker-uppers as directed and start to question things such as:
What have I agreed to?
Why did I bother even putting make-up on this morning?
Did I feed the dog before I left?
Did my friend trick me into this?
Thinking it would be a nice gesture?
Shouldn't I be questioning what is about to happen to me?
Did I notice an exit sign or fire alarm?
Is my cell phone within reach?
Will the absorbency of the towels make me look like I do when I first wake up:
Like all the life and beauty got sucked out of me by the linenets? (Those are age-promoting insects who occupy your bed when you sleep.)
How am I supposed to breathe?
My family doesn't even know I am here.
What if I don't come out alive?
Am I supposed to keep my eyes open or shut?
Do I really even have a choice?
They are stuck in squint mode.
Of course, it isn't for my feet.
Not right then anyway...
He holds back nothing as he starts to pinch my back.
Then he places his elbow in my lower back and pushes down on it with the opposite hand and then forcibly shoves it all the way up to my neck.
I am wondering if at the bottom of the certificate I missed, 'Includes the WWF treatment'?
New thoughts come to me as he continues:
This is what people say is relaxing?
I am about to cry.
Is this why I need absorbency?
Is the music to muffle my cries?
What is he doing now?
Exorcising all those cottage cheese munchkins out?
Is it really necessary to push so hard?
Am I truly going to feel much better when he is all done?
I am feeling like my perpetrator is a mix between an over-enthusiastic chiropractor (which I've never been to) and a Big-Time wrestler/cage fighter from the Orient.
Now I know that was not in the fine print (unless it was in another language.)
I learn quickly that "Eess ocay?" means I am about to be tortured.
At first it is ocay but once I give the go-ahead that immediately changes.
He is grinding his fists and elbows and head into my back as if it is my fault that his wife wasn't in a good mood this morning.
Then he takes my hand.
A nice gesture until he puts it behind my back and bends it up and starts pushing on that too.
I am wishing that I had learned the Vietnamese word for Uncle before I went in.
But I am not sure I would of even been able to use it.
The sign on the front desk upon entering flashes through my head.
It had read: NO TALKING
Is this why?
Thoughts of the dentist come back to me:
The time when I couldn't tell him the Novocaine had worn off because I could not get the words out clearly.
Or is that what the towels are for?
To muffle my pleas for help?
My face is even being stuffed into the holder.
He seems irritated with my hair as it keeps getting in the way even though it is pinned up.
When it is all over and I get up,
I look like I have just been tumbling in bed with someone.
A total stranger!
My hair is tousled and I have those famous,' after- 40- pillow-wrinkles' (well, more the quilted look) imprinted on my not-so-youthful-skin.
I had kept my clothes on and still got intimate with a total stranger.
Not on my bucket list.
This was no longer Heavenly.
Only then am I invited to sit on one of the recliners and handed my book.
Ironically enough it is entitled The Last Day of My Life by Jim Moret
Fitting, seeing what I have just gone through.
It feels like I need to regroup and act innocent.
As if I had not just come out of a dark room (in mid-morning) with a man whose name I don't even know!
No wonder the innocent, "who me?" foot massage part comes last.
So I have time to redeem myself.
So I am now thinking I can finally relax.
No guilt or uncertainty here.
Only my feet will be touched.
And maybe to my knees.
Another masseur comes out.
I am sure that their foreign communication is about how elephant-hide-like my feet are.
Maybe they are saying, "She could have used the whole hour and more just on her feet!
We do not get paid enough to do this!"
"Don't worry I have been making her pay..."
Boy has he!
I try to read, but it is difficult with my Maybelline Intense XXL, volume+length mascara all clumped together.
Never intending beforehand to cry at my relaxation outing, I am grateful it is waterproof after all.
The commercials don't show what happens to your lashes when your face is stuffed into a little leather pocket holder that is covered in paper towels.
So much for longer, thicker looking lashes.
They feel more like squashed tarantula legs!
After a brief soaking in a cute bamboo tub (just my feet, not me),
Which is not nearly long enough,
(now there are 3 of these non-verbal conspirators)
comes the good part.
Or at least I think so.
He uses his thumb on my foot in much the same way he had his elbow on my back.
To push almost all the way through until it is protruding to the other part of my body.
He is smiling all the while of course, with soothing oriental tunes playing softly in the background.
I try to concentrate on my book but he stops and blows on my foot.
What is he doing now?
Is this some ancient ritual?
Then he very carefully scrapes something off.
I just took a shower this morning!
A couple of times he puts his head down and sits very still.
I am not sure if he has fallen asleep, is overcome with fumes ruminating from my pedis,
or praying for either it to end soon or blessing my irksome feet.
The finale is the best.
Or the worst.
He just starts hitting me.
(I guess I hadn't paid enough)
On my arms, my legs, my feet.
No chance for meditation before work this morning?!?
Starbucks line too long?
Then comes the arm stretch.
Like I am Gumby or worse, one of those sticky, stretchable fifty-cent toys you buy from those machines that are at the grocery store entrance.
He pulls each arm over my head only stopping because he hits the store front window.
I can not even begin to guess what will happen next.
Nor do I want to.
It is like one of those adventure-seeking experiences without leaving the city!
Or my chair!
Now the embarrassing part.
(I know, as if the other wasn't already...)
He starts to pull my arm again, but this time in front of me and (no, I don't 'fluff').
I just keep reading.
After an hour of this I have accepted torture as a loving gesture from my new friend.
He pulls a few more times and without looking up from my book, I hold out the opposite arm.
The quiet before the storm my mind warns.
But it doesn't come,
I finally stop reading long enough to look up,
And he says, "Ocay u gat up noww."
I guess that means we are done?
Just when I was settling in...
He hands me a cup of water upon departing.
I guess I provide the ibuprofen.