I had my first professional massage today.
It was worth every blissful/painful minute.
This picture is what the front desk of MassageLuxe looks like. You will wonder why the people all have their eyes open. “They don’t look like they’re relaxed. Who opens their eyes during a massage?” you will say to your friend. Your friend will respond, “People who are taking pictures.”
You will get an iPad and fill out contact information, emergency contact information (“Hello? Yes, I regret to inform you, but your daughter has died from happiness. Her body is still warm, on account of the steamed towels.”), and any medical conditions you might have. You will struggle to decide whether or not to check that you have back pain, because you haven’t had anything diagnosed, but isn’t that why you’re there?
Your name will be called, like in the doctor’s office, except that your first thought upon meeting your massage therapist will be, “You are going to touch me” instead of “I hope I don’t have cancer.”
My massage therapist was the coolest person ever. My therapist had straight jet black hair in punkish layers, two lip piercings and a laid-back attitude. We got to know each other pretty well… in some senses. Mainly the sense of touch. And sound. I would later tweet: “I paid over $60 for a one hour massage. It was worth every dollar and all the ungodly noises that it forced me to produce.”
Your therapist will ask you if there’s any areas that you want to focus on, or areas that you want to avoid. You may respond, “On the iPad, I checked ‘do not avoid any areas.’ My back hurts and I’m basically broken. I have a lot of knots, so if you could address those, that would be great. Thanks!” Your therapist will tell you they are leaving the room so that you can strip. You will be slightly confused, because it is your first time. They will leave and you will think about what a massage entails and take your clothes off. You might leave your underwear on. Later you will look at about.com and discover that the only regret that you have about the massage is that you didn’t take off your underwear.
If there’s any advice that I can give you, it’s TAKE EVERYTHING OFF.
Because it feels much better that way.
Swedish massage is a full body massage, and the massage therapist works in sections, uncovering each part when they work on it. You will be covered in a sheet and a blanket, and sometimes warm towels, depending on the part of the massage. The massage table is like a flat version of the doctor’s bed/table thing that you sit on, except that it’s not covered in the material used to cover public toilet seats, and it’s more comfortable and it’s HEATED.
Oooh it’s heaaaaaaaated.
After you strip, you will lie face down on the circle head rest thing, head facing the floor, arms dangling down the sides. You will think about how vulnerable you are. This is not the time to think about serial killers.
You will be asked if you have any problems with the smell of eucalyptus. You will think briefly about koalas, but not have any idea how to work koalas into a massage joke, and not be in the mood to joke anyway. You are there to RELAX. AND RELAXATION IS SERIOUS BUSINESS. So you will say you have no problems with eucalyptus, and heck, if eucalyptus will help, then you want all the eucalyptus that you can get.
You will be told to take several deep breaths. You will channel Darth Vader and do the correct breathing that you once did in a yoga class in college, where your professor gave five minute massages and taught you to do yoga to Scriptures. You will inhale through your throat, making the Darth Vader sound, and exhale out your mouth. You will decide to be as vocal as you feel like, because your therapist is a professional and you are there to relax. It is a safe space. You want to unleash all the bad energy. And you want to be healed. Because you are broken.
The rest of the session will be both blissful and at times painful. The bliss comes in the pressure and gliding over knots, the warmth of the bed and towels (especially after the pain of working through knots), the cracking of your spine when you thought you already cracked all of it, the cracking of your knuckles, the warmth of the therapist’s hands and forearms, breathing deeply as your therapist puts pressure on knots. The pain will be when your therapist attacks your glutes, your shoulders, and the area between your chest and armpit, where you had no idea your muscles existed, let alone were tight. Calves, hands, and feet will feel especially great. You use them all the time– no wonder they need work. Your arms will be pulled. Your head will be pushed as your arm is stretched away.
You will surrender everything, because you need to be fixed, and your therapist knows what they are doing. You will wonder why anyone would ever want anything other than a massage. Your desires for material goods and career advancement and chocolate will seem utterly trivial. You will fantasize about telling everyone that all you want are massages, until you remember that everyone stopped giving you gifts once you stopped giving others gifts, because life is simpler when you don’t have to spend an excessive amount of money giving people things they don’t need. Santa’s last present to you will be a Christmas story book, because it’s what was on sale at Barnes and Noble. Last time, it was Hilary Clinton’s autobiography.
The massage oil will be warm, and every stroke will feel smooth and uninterrupted, until your underwear.
I’m telling you, no underwear. TAKE IT OFF.
After the massage, you will be told to stretch, drink lots of water, and take a hot shower/bath. You will do yoga to Yoga Zone on Hulu, because Alan Finger is your best friend. His voice is amazing. You’ll know what I mean. He’s probably a distant cousin to Bob Ross. You will be told that you need to drink lots of water to flush out the toxins, and if you don’t, the toxins will have nowhere to go and cause your muscles to tighten up. You will wonder about the science behind this claim, but you will trust your therapist, who has proven themselves to be Knower of All Things, Especially Your Body. Your therapist will compare tightened muscles to a hangover, and explain that muscles tighten because they get dehydrated. You will remember the one hangover you once had and how it was the worst feeling ever. “Drink a lot and pee a lot,” you will say to your therapist. Your therapist will laugh, and you will expect your therapist to respond, “Riiighteous” like a surfer dude. You will later take a shower, and run the water over your knots. You will think about how it feels great, but nothing will compare to what you experienced in the dimly-lit room with the ambient music and the warm bed and the warm pressure.
The sales clerk will ask whether you want a membership and if you would like to try HydroLuxe, the massage water-jet bath machine thing. The model in the picture will look relaxed, but you will think of how nothing could be as good as your therapist and wonder why anyone would choose a machine over a person. You will be asked if you would come back again, and you will say you wish, and then inwardly mourn your graduate student budget. You will be asked how much you would like to tip your therapist, and you will panic because you didn’t calculate, and you will say 25, which the sales clerk will take to mean $25, rather than 25%.
You will wonder why the bill was so high.
You will think about how great the massage was, how intimate the experience felt, and how tipping is a reflection of your empathy and character.
You will be okay with tipping $25.
You will still fantasize about being given massages.
“Why, another massage? You shouldn’t have! But if you insist…”
Maroon 5’s new song, Love Somebody is nice, as is the editing on the video.