|Cats give very poor massages, actually.|
Dave surprised me with a side-by-side massage to celebrate the fact that we've been together for five years. He refused to tell me where we were going beyond the fact that I should be clean and might want to shave my legs. He also indicated that we would have to have a late lunch afterwards, probably in the form of sushi.
“We’re doing naked yoga, aren't we?” I asked. “Are we pole dancing? I knew it was pole dancing.”
“Yes,” Dave said. "We're doing naked pole dancing yoga."
Whether it shows or not, I was very suspicious that we were going to get massages. As soon as it became clear that the surprise was not food-related, my suspicions took root. But I certainly wasn’t going to make a deduction that ruins the surprise.
“We’re getting coffee enemas, aren't we? I knew we were getting coffee enemas.”
Sometimes I think it’s a miracle that anyone would stay with me for five years. I feel extremely lucky to have found someone who is willing to put up with my nonsense. And my ever-evolving, unconventional eating habits. And the elaborate messes I leave in the kitchen area, caked with turmeric and peanut butter. And the hornet’s nest of notebooks and tea-stained index cards that inevitably covers most surfaces in my home.
“Yes, we're getting coffee enemas,” Dave said.
Dave put on a magnificent hoax the morning we left to do the thing we were going to do. He said we had to stop by his gym to drop off something for a friend. I eyed the spa on the upper level of the building and thought to myself, This is a setup. But I’m not going to say anything.
“Let’s go wait in the doorway,” Dave said.
We went through the doorway and he pressed the button on the elevator. The elevator opened and we went inside.
Rising up several floors, Dave attempted to distract me.
“I thought we were going to wait in the doorway,” I whined.
“The doorway of the gym,” Dave clarified.
We got off at the top floor, which was the spa. As we walked in, the woman at the desk handed Dave a pair of clipboards.
“Where is the gym, Dave? Where is your friend? I don’t see him here.”
The jig was up. As we filled out the clipboards, Dave at long last explained that he had gotten us an hour-long massage in the same room. A massage of that length was inconceivable to me. I had only had two in my life, each ten minutes long and unpleasant in their own special way. The first was at the side of a hot spring in Colorado, performed by a stoned fellow with a blond ponytail and an uncanny resemblance to my poetry professor.
The second was during a benefits fair at work, where the masseuse seemed to be using martial arts on my spine. I kept crying out and the woman from accounting in the chair next to me groaned, “Brittany, why can’t you just relax?”
Dave had thoughtfully arranged for a woman to work with me so that I would be more comfortable. He requested a man, having read that male massage therapists are often discriminated in their line of work. Many women feel more comfortable with another woman and many men don’t want to be touched by a dude.
“I guess I would feel more comfortable with a woman. Should I tell them about my plankton allergy? I feel like that could be important.”
The lines of communication had been crossed. As we waited in a dim room, me in a robe that was too long and Dave flip-flops that seemed too small, I accepted the firm, meaty handshake of someone who appeared to be a body builder. Dave was approached by a kind-looking woman with gray hair. He whispered something to her about wanting to switch. They all turned to me and asked if I would prefer to switch. Now that I had actually met a male massage therapist, I would have felt terrible switching. I didn't want to participate in unfair social constructs. I went with the body builder.
The actual massage was far more relaxing than my previous experiences. Not that I’m very good at relaxing. I’m not. Every once in a while I caught myself clenching my teeth or unconsciously tensing up my shoulders. Once I was genuinely worried that the massage therapist was trying to knock me out with pressure points on my temples, much like a ninja. Some of the places he focused on made my back and neck so uncomfortable that I started to laugh.
“Are you ticklish on your neck?” he asked.
“Yes. I mean, no. I was uncomfortable and that made me laugh. Never mind,” I said.
Laughing is my first reaction to almost everything. It is my first reaction to something funny and my first reaction to something stupid and my first reaction to absurdity and my first reaction when someone falls out of a window. It is not always appropriate, but sometimes it happens anyways. I once laughed on the phone when a friend told me her grandmother had passed away. I didn't think it was funny at all.
At the end we went to our locker rooms. It was nice to not to feel all of my cracks and cricks when I moved. I changed into my pedestrian clothing and met Dave in the entrance where he stood by a rack of fragrant lotions and massage oils. I opened one of the oils with nostrils ready and it erupted all over my face.
As I said before, I am extremely lucky to have found someone who is willing to put up with my nonsense.