[about the author]
i actually like speaking in front of large crowds. freakish,
i work crossword puzzles in ink.
i am the american nigella lawson. or maybe the american eddie
izzard. can't decide, really.
i would be a really good mom, but i'm cool with being a really
i am sometimes more perceptive than i would like to be.
i am fiercely loyal. sometimes, stupidly so.
i never play dumb. never.
i am way too hard on myself.
i am a change agent.
i sometimes cross that fine line between assertive and aggressive.
i am not afraid to tell people that i love them.
i am militantly pro-choice.
i am pro-adoption.
i know a little bit about alot of things.
i typically enjoy the company of men more than women.
i am capable of being really mean and nasty, but i fight it.
i am a lifelong cubs fan. do not laugh.
i have been known to hold a grudge.
i have hips.
i am not my sister.
i am lousy at forgiving myself.
i am an indoor kind of gal.
i am a bargain shopper. to the point of obsession.
i am 32 flavors. and then some.
i was telling a friend that i was going to be staying at the biltmore hotel in coral gables when her face lit up.
“oh, i hear they have a nice spa there. you should get a massage.”
a massage. ah, yes, a massage. i love massages. i try and get them whenever i have the time...and, of course, the money.
over the years i’ve had some pretty good massages. i had a particularly nice one at la samanna in st. martin. and a really terrific one from a physical therapist in west virginia.
for me, going to get a massage is a little like going to the gynecologist. there’s always a weird moment at the end.
just stick with me here. this isn’t nearly as bad as you think it's going to be.
every time i go to a new gynecologist, there’s a moment. a pause. i can almost count it off in my head, the moment of silence before the moment.
“did anyone ever tell you that your cervix is tilted backwards?”
and there it is.
typically, i respond with, “oh, yes. i get that all the time. a woman at the mall mentioned it to me this weekend as a matter of fact.”
similarly [or not, i guess, depending on your point of view] at the end of every massage, there is a moment.
“um. well, that’s it, really, but...um....”
and here it comes.
“you’re not relaxed. i mean, your muscles just won't relax.”
it’s true. i can’t physically relax. just the way my little cervix is never gonna straighten up and fly right, my muscles are never going to release so i can truly relax.
massages still feel good, don’t get me wrong. but my body is never physically relaxed when it's over. most massage thereapists react to this as if it’s some sort of personal affront to their skills. or as though they have somehow failed in their task. i always make it a point to reassure them.
“no, it was great. really. you did a great job! it’s not you, it’s me!”
and then i give them a ridiculous tip to reinforce my point.
so, while i was game for getting yet another massage, i had no expectations that it would actually relax me. it would just be a nice hourlong nap with some nice aromatherapy stuff smeared on me and some rubbing. and, hey, who doesn’t like rubbing?
so, i made my appointment for a 4:00 massage. that seemed about right. i was invited to dinner with the partners that evening, and my coworker and i had reserved a cabana by the pool for the day, so i figured 4:00 would be just about right.
the day started out gloriously, with the sun shining and our cabana boy, henry, smiling as he delivered the first round of mimosas. as the day progressed, we consulted with henry on when the appropriate hour of the day to switch to mojitos would be. after all, mimosas are a decidedly breakfasty type of booze. mojitos, not so much. we didn’t want to appear gauche and order mojitos too early or continue drinking mimosas too late.
at the appointed hour, henry brought two beautiful mojitos and two equally beautiful lobster salads to our cabana and the day didn’t seem like it could get any better.
then, my coworker reminded me about the massage.
“just think, after all this, you still have a massage to look forward to.”
i finally headed upstairs to put on some clothes before showing up for my massage. for reasons that still elude me, i actually took a shower, too. why bother taking a shower to go lie on a table and have oil smeared all over your body? i have no idea.
when i checked in, the woman behind the counter asked if i had a preference as to whether my “technician” was male or female.
and now we’re back to the gynecologist thing.
personally, i do not care one bit whether my gynecologist is a man or a woman. i don’t subscribe to the “women are more familiar with the equipment” theory. and i have no illusions that i would be the first up close and personal experience a male gynecologist would have with the female anatomy, so i don't feel self-conscious about that. i kind of think that, after you reach critical mass, no one really even sees the...uh...equipment. seen one, seen ‘em all. another day, another...uh...equipment.
anyway, that’s how i feel about my massage therapists, too. i don’t care even a little whether my massage comes from a man or a woman. i know i’m likely in the minority in my lack of caring about these things. i’m fine with that.
“okay, you’ll be with marcelino.”
of course. see, those of us in the i-don’t-care minority always end up with a dude. because we’re in the minority.
marcelino shows up and takes me down the hall to the “treatment room.” which turns out to be a hotel room that they’ve turned into a “treatment room” by removing the bed, putting a massage table in the middle of the room, and putting some candles in strategic locations and a cd player in the corner with some yanniesque crap warbling out of it.
why do they always play that music during massages? that music does not make me feel relaxed. it makes me feel annoyed.
so, marcelino points me toward the bathroom and tells me i can step in there to get changed and he’ll be back shortly.
this is code for “get naked.”
i flash back to a conversation i had the night before with two coworkers.
“so, are you going to get naked?”
“these drinks aren’t that good.”
“no, i mean for your massage.”
“right. of course. well, yeah. i mean...yeah. a massage with my clothes on wouldn’t be very good.”
my second coworker chimes in, “well, some people leave their underwear on.”
“it’s like some sort of signal.”
“a signal? a signal for...what? like, a signal that you’re wearing underwear? i don’t know what that means, ‘a signal.’”
“that you don’t want them to rub your butt.”
“that’s just crazy talk. who doesn’t want to have their butt rubbed?! what is the point if you don’t get your butt rubbed?! the butt rubbing is the best part!”
“i’m just telling you what someone told me. if you leave your underwear on, they won’t rub your butt.”
and so, as i always have, i removed my clothes. all of them. and i pulled on the warm robe marcelino had left for me and stepped out into the room.
i dropped the robe on a chair, and walked toward the table. as i reached its side, i froze.
there, on the table, was a towel.
a regular towel.
white. fluffy. regular. towel.
this was no bath sheet. this was no oversize jumbo supersize towel. just a regular sized bath towel.
and that was it.
i’m looking at the towel and thinking, “that is not right. there should be something else. something different. something bigger. something more. there must be some mistake.”
then i worried that i had consumed a few too many mojitos and they had erased all the massage protocol knowledge out of my brain. like, maybe i forgot how this works. maybe i normally sit in the chair with my robe on and then the massage guy comes in with a big towel and that’s when i get officially naked and on the table.
i must have this wrong.
then i think, “what if i’m not wrong? what if i’m supposed to get on the table and under that regular towel? can i ask for more of a towel? can i ask for a second towel?”
and then i think, “how long have i been standing here naked in the middle of the treatment room staring at the regular towel? any minute now, marcelino is going to walk right into the treatment room and i’m going to be standing here in the middle of the room all naked-like, and then it won’t matter if there’s a towel at all, because, hey, i'm standing here all naked-like, so what difference does a towel make now? critical mass!”
so i quickly get on the table and cover myself with the towel.
and marcelino walks in.
the towel is covering most of the things it ought to cover to a respectable extent. it’s passable. nothing is obviously hanging out. so, i decide not to risk looking like a [drunk] fool and asking for a bigger towel.
marcelino goes to work. and i have to admit – he’s awesome. i mean, awe. some. i had knots on top of knots and he seemed to know exactly where to push and where to ease up and i could just feel the knots melting away. it felt so great that i completely tuned out the obnoxious relaxing music.
he made his way down to my feet, which is one of my favorite parts of getting a massage – as long as it’s done correctly. poorly done reflexology is just tickling.
so, imagine my pleasant surprise when marcelino begins to massage each of my toes individually. i’m lying there with a contented smile on my face as he shakes my foot to loosen my ankle, thinking just how fantastic this feels when, all of a sudden, marcelino lifts my foot, puts his hand behind my knee to bend it and pushes it toward my chest.
my eyes are immediately wide open.
it’s not that this particular stretch didn’t feel good. it did. that wasn’t what caused my eyes to bug out of my head and a sweat to break out across my brow.
it was the way the bottom of the towel flipped up and came to rest on my stomach.
he can see my hoo-ha he can see my hoo-ha he can see my hoo-ha he's standing down there right in front of it and he can see my hoo-ha.
suddenly, it seems that faux-yanni music has never been played louder than it is playing right now.
oh my god. there is a breeze.
yes. definitely. the distinct and unmistakable feeling of a breeze. or at least room temperature air wafting across my...uh...equipment.
and i don’t just mean the front of my butt. i mean...okay, if you assume that position i think you're going to see what i mean. i'm talking about the...uh...whole thing. the full view. the under the hood look at the equipment. you know the noise you make when you blow across the opening at the top of a bottle? well, i’m expecting to hear that noise coming from the general vicinity of my hoo-ha at any minute. seriously.
and then, as i’m just about to...well, i don’t honestly know what i'm just about to. i mean, do something i guess. or say something. maybe something like, "hey, this is fantastic, but do you think you could cover the gaping maw of my vagina when you get a chance?"
or maybe just get up and run from the room.
at that moment i learned the lesson that, although you might think that you're squarely in the "he's seen one he's seen them all" category, when your hoo-ha makes a very unexpected center stage appearance set to faux-yanni music you actually care just a wee bit more than you thought you did. bottom line: the mass is indeed critical when it is your mass.
and just then, marcelino takes my leg and presses it across my body.
and i feel my spine crack.
no. to say that it cracked doesn’t really do it justice.
i can feel every vertebrae from the base of my spine to the base of my neck pop. in rapid fire succession.
and, suddenly, i don’t care what marcelino can see. i don’t care if my hoo-ha starts making that bottle blowing noise to the tune of stairway to heaven. just please, for the love of god, marcelino, please do my other leg.
when he had finished with my second leg, he stepped to one side of the table, reached across me and lifted the towel up so that it hung between the two of us, blocking his view of me on the table.
“turn over on your stomach please.”
and, while i admired his efforts, i know the presence of that flimsy regular-size bath towel between us couldn’t muffle my voice enough for him not to have heard me chuckling as i muttered, “well, i think we’re a bit beyond modesty at this point.”
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