So I decided to treat myself to a Mothers Day massage. It seemed like such a terrific idea, until I actually implemented it.
Daughter had announced that she would not be able to visit, what with University duties and being broke and all. I understood.
I started the day with two hours of tennis with a ball machine. I worked hard on my backhand and volleys. I detected some progress. Afterwards I played with several of the non-mothers for whom this was Sunday as usual. When they later surprised me with a mimosa toast, I was genuinely appreciative. One of them invited me to an afternoon knock but I declined. I told her that I had a date with a massage, naming the chain I had called the day before to book a 1.5 hour treatment. In hindsight, I should have known better than to go to a massage factory where productivity is probably valued over more ‘enviable’ customer satisfaction.
I arrived early for my appointment and started completing the requisite paperwork. As I was writing, a male customer came out from an inner room, followed by his masseur, whom he thanked profusely. I hoped that his masseur was also mine. Alas, I had no such luck. Eventually, a short fat Hispanic woman called out a semblance of my name. My heart sank as I followed her inside. She waddled all the way to an inner room.
Inside, she instructed me to remove my clothing with the exception of my underwear. She asked if I wanted the heating pad. I told her that I had no idea. She said that the clients before me had not wanted the blanket. I said OK, I’ll go with the heating pad then. After she left, I noticed the blanket sitting in a heap on the floor. Classy.
I took off all my clothes except for my panties and slipped under the thin white sheets. I waited. And waited. Finally, ten minutes after my scheduled time, she knocked and asked if I was ready. Inwardly I sucked my teeth in irritation. Outwardly I said yes, come on in.
She waddled inside. She started by announcing that she was diabetic and hoped if it was OK if she drank her water. She had taken her medication earlier but was still feeling thirsty. My heart plummeted. She wanted to know if I wanted the lights dimmed or would I prefer a towel over my eyes. I replied, whichever you prefer. She said, oh I see you are going to be easy to please, and dimmed the lights.
She started on my right biceps, commenting that they seemed really toned. I play tennis, I said, that’s why I asked for a deep-tissue sports massage. Silence. She continued to stroke the muscles. It’s OK to go deeper I said. Her hand movements momentarily became more intense. Next she moved to my right thigh. You can go deeper, I said again. She tried, valiantly, but she was clearly not up to the task. It was as if she had used up all of her energy on my biceps. It’s OK to go harder, I insisted. Well, she said, I’m not really a deep-tissue massager. So why did they assign you to me when that is specifically what I requested, I asked. More silence.
She probably tried her best, this almost 4-foot tall, obese, diabetic woman. In the end, all she succeeded in doing was irritate me. The most infuriating moment came when she whispered to me to turn over. Why is she whispering I wondered, can she not see that my eyes are wide open? After all, I am staring up at the f**king ceiling!
I turned over. Her hands moved up and down my back. Up and down. And again, up and down. Not side to side. No bunching of the muscles. No kneading. No circular movements. Just up and down. Up and down. It was as if she had received her training at the very factory that had elected to employ her.
I decided to tune her out. I tapped my fingers on the headrest, in time with the muzak. Maybe I was being passive-aggressive. I wanted her to know that she sucked. I wanted to telegraph that I was trying hard to ignore the feel of her now clammy hands as they moved over me. I knew that diabetes was not contagious, but who the hell knew what other germs she was busy sharing with me via her sweaty palms? So I continued to tap my fingers and suck my teeth. I just wanted this to be over.
She ended 10 minutes early. I had paid for 1.5 hours but had received 10 minutes over an hour. That’s how they roll at these massage factories. She waited outside with a glass of water. I wondered if she had spit in it. That is the problem with being passive-aggressive – you end up wondering if others may be paying you back in kind. I thanked her and drank, following her as she waddled to the front desk. There was a long line of other Mothers Day victims. I paid and departed. I did not leave her a tip.