To Stephanie, on the Occasion of My Second “Therapeutic Relaxation Massage”

There are so many things I want you to know.

First, thank you. Thank you for offering the disposable underwear. I am sure there are women, let’s just call them fancy-pants women, who appreciate this option, as it saves their precious fancy-panties from massage oil. But for me, disposable underpants call to mind such delights as episiotomies and swollen feet. My granny pants wash up just fine, believe me.

Also, thank you for offering the plastic shower cap to protect my hair from your use of copious oil, and then applying it to my head when I opted to skip it. You’ll note, neither is my hair coiffed, nor did I arrive in public clothing; that is my nightgown hanging from the wall peg, and I plan to throw my hoodie over it and dash to the elevator and into bed when this is through. Still, I deeply appreciate the gesture. I feel like my hair must look OK, if you deem that it deserves such protection.

I don’t think I much resemble your typical Therapeutic Relaxation Massage client, or even any regular clients of this salon/spa. I don’t have the caviar manicure, or the new-for-winter velvet manicure (that can’t be washed with soap and water!), though I admit I’m intrigued by that cool magnetic polish. Anyway I hope the departure from the norm is welcome and pleasant, rather than disturbing. I am not here to treat a case of the fainting vapors, or some other delicate feminine condition–or, if that is what I have, I have an advanced case and you’re my best hope. I am aware that your colleagues could do most excellent things with the cuticles and callouses on my hands and feet. I know that I have a significant quantity of white hair, and that I might look nearly a decade younger if I colored over that white (and lost twenty pounds. Or maybe gained ten to fill in what now sags). I wonder whether it’s all you can do to resist recommending I have these eyebrows threaded right off and painted back on in a nice, angular, squared-off shape.

Mostly, I want to thank you for not mentioning any of this. And for working on my hands and forearms with great vigor, and applying the deepest pressure you could muster to those knotty things all over my shoulder blades and up my neck. I could sense your alarm as you tried to smooth them out, and I wish we could have got my spine to crack, too. You tried, you really tried. I could hear by your breathing that you made a good effort.

You clearly recognized the places where my muscles tighten with tension and pull the joints and bones out of alignment, and you leaned in on these places. I liked that thing that felt like you were walking on my back. I know you weren’t actually walking on my back, and I don’t know how you managed to create that much pressure, all 85 pounds of you, but it was good. Thanks for re-balancing that whole mess.

You kneaded the heck out of my calf muscles, and I appreciate that you took care to avoid those painful pressure points above my ankles while really digging in. I don’t wear heels like most of the women here seem to, but I do walk a lot, and this place is pretty solidly paved, so anyway, thanks.

I’m grateful for your not offering to massage my stomach. For me, that’s weird and reminds me of stuff I used to do when my babies were gassy, and I appreciate that you can respect that I am not a gassy baby. I’ll bet you get gassy baby types from time to time, and I’ll be you offer them tummy massage.

I apologize that I had to mindfully resist holding your hand when you worked my palms and fingers. Thanks for cracking the knuckles of my fingers and toes. I especially like the toe-cracking, and the manner in which you delivered that part of the service makes me think everyone likes a good toe-cracking, and that maybe I am not weird. I hope you took a look at my manicure-free hands and decided to go the extra mile with the cracking and pulling. The wrist-pulling was especially good. The shoulder-pulling, too. So it seems like you recognized working hands, and you did unto my hands as you’d have done unto yours.

Thanks, too, for loading me up with all that oil. I don’t give myself much attention when it comes to lotions, creams and such, and it was kind of nice to go to bed smelling like a butterscotch bonbon. Nice in a weird way, but not bad.

Mostly, though, I hope you were pleased with the tip. I know you are grossly underpaid. I assume you are supporting family in your home country. I am certain you work every single day. I want you to someday, if not today, feel like you are exercising a choice.

I’ll be back, in another month or so. I’ll try to keep a calm mind, try to keep up with my own yoga and relaxation practices, try to prevent things from winding so tightly that you can hear the joints and springs squeak when the muscles and tendons finally start to give. I’ll try not to make it so much work next time.

Anyway, thanks again. I really, really appreciate it, and I’m pretty sure my kids do, too.


One response to “To Stephanie, on the Occasion of My Second “Therapeutic Relaxation Massage”

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