Today I had the worst and most bizarre massage experience of my life. Initially, I had no reason to be nervous about the massage. I’ve gone to this spa several times in the last few years and although I’d never had this particular massage therapist before, she seemed very nice.
I told her I just wanted a light to moderate pressure massage. No focus points, just relaxation. She nodded, as if she understood what I was saying. Then I undressed and got on the table. When she came back in, this was the conversation:
Were you cooking today?
Uh, earlier? Yeah.
What were you making? Smells spicy.
Sorry. I had barbacoa going in my crockpot. But I just took a shower before this.
Oh. Are you a hispanic?
[extra long silence] No.
I worked at Chipotle before this job. I love barbacoa.
Maybe it’s your hair. It smells spicy, like a coconut.
All I could think was 1. How could anyone mistake the smell of coconut for spice? 2. I just told her about my barbacoa for no reason. 3. I will do anything to make this woman stop talking.
Next, she sat on a stool and started on my neck. After drenching my shoulders, neck and chest with enough oil to make me feel like a wet baby seal, she laid her motionless hands on my shoulders for approximately 30 minutes. Except for brief, intermittent breaks where she dug her thumbs into my neck and shoulder muscles, it just felt like she was praying over me. I gently reminded her I was looking for a light, relaxing massage, but her only response was to lovingly reposition her lifeless hands on my shoulders.
When she got up from the stool, I felt relieved. Surely things would get better in whatever time we had left together. After completely saturating my legs in oil, she sat on the table and lifted one leg all the way up into the air. She then oiled her way down my thigh to an area that was PERILOUSLY close to a definite no-touching spot. Every muscle in my body went ridged as the idea of her oil drenched hand accidentally slipping inside either Door One or Two seemed less and less far-fetched. It was even worse when she got to the other leg because I knew what to expect.
When it was time to roll over onto my front, I was coated in so much oil that the sheet beneath me got all bunched up. Instead of asking for her help straightening it, I decided to quietly feel grateful that I hadn’t just been finger blasted by an ex-Chipotle worker, and laid on the giant knots of fabric.
It didn’t seem that bad at first, but then she started digging her thumbs into my back. The feeling of her taking out her aggression on whatever critical fluid that runs along my spine was punctuated by the feeling of the fabric knots beneath me going into my stomach cavity, shifting the placement of various internal organs. For approximately 15 minutes, my only thought was that I might leave this table paralyzed or blind.
When it was over and I was getting dressed, I struggled over whether I should tip her or not. Sure, this experience left me more stressed and sore than when I arrived, but maybe I should have been more clear about what I wanted. All it took was a quick feel to see just how close the massage oil got to my perineum for me to decide to leave no tip.
Sitting here at home, eating my barbacoa, still glistening with oil, I somehow feel guilty about it.