I’ve been curious to experience a professional body message for a long time, but I just never actually got around to setting up an appointment. I’ve been getting scalp massages from my hair stylist — that’s a weird term for a good ol’ boy to use, but women don’t like to be called “barbers” — for a couple years, and they’re wonderful. Head massages are so gloriously relaxing and stress relieving. I could just imagine what a full-body massage would feel like.
I have to admit that part of my failure to call a place and make an appointment has been based on simply not knowing exactly what to expect. I mean, a scalp massage while sitting in a barber’s chair isn’t really mysterious; you’re sitting there, the stylist is running her fingers through your hair while cutting and washing already. But a body massage: Do I have to get naked? Who’ll be rubbing my body? Where will they run their hands? Would it be a man or a woman? Is it homophobic to not want a male masseuse? Is it suggestive to want a female one?
But, at last, as a sort-of Christmas gift to myself, I decided to finally take the leap onto a massage table. There’s a reputable chain location near our home, and fortunately for my nerves and hesitation, it turns out that they have a good web site that pretty much spells out exactly what a massage session entails. I read the introduction and emailed an appointment request.
Filling out the online form, I chose to try the Swedish massage, as that seems to be the standard, (or maybe just the stereotypical), routine. A female masseuse was the default option, and I accepted it.
The appointment would be for an hour: 5 minutes before and after, and 50 minutes of actual massage time. Fifty minutes of massage, that sounded pretty darn sweet.
I arrived at the shop, (. . . store . . . what is kind of establishment called?), and checked in. The receptionist sat me back in the “relaxation room” — it’s got soft, comfy couches and chairs, and is quiet other than the soft murmur of a small water fountain.
I had to fill out a form, and the questions were “interesting.” Most of the questions were the standard name, address, any medical conditions your massage therapist needs to know about, etc. But then there were the:
Are you comfortable with having your head massaged?
Are you comfortable with having your pectoral region massaged?
Are you comfortable with having your gluteal region massaged?
And so on, including arms and legs.
My head massaged, sure, no problem. Arms and legs, probably okay. My chest, hmm, maybe okay. I’m a married man, so having a woman who’s not my wife rub my chest . . . I had to think the concept over for a few seconds. I was there to get a massage, which in my mind means, “back rub,” so I was already accepting the idea of a stranger woman rubbing me down. And really, how big a difference is letting someone rub my chest than rub my back? I got over the mental speedbump and checked yes to the chest rub.
But “gluteal region”? My butt? Yeah, that’s a no, thank you.
The very first section of the form explained that there would be no touching of the genitals, so that question wasn’t an issue. Yeah, even I, as clueless as I am with most pop culture slang, have heard of the “happy ending.” I specifically chose a reputable chain business to avoid that whole quagmire. I’m “happy” at home just fine, thank you very much.
I turned the form in with the receptionist and then just waited a few minutes for my massage therapist to come get me. I gave some thought to what kind of masseuse I wanted. I knew beforehand that I wanted a female, not a male, no matter how phobic that makes me sound. But also I’d come to decide that I would like a middle-aged woman, slightly less than physically well fit. I definitely did not want a young fitness trainer-type.
My reasoning was: I wanted someone who probably wouldn’t look on me as a disgusting old man. A middle-aged woman would probably consider me “neutral” in age (by comparison), and one not in great personal physical shape might appreciate, (in a professional knowledge way), that I have been working out. A young fitness trainer-type girl might consider me a pathetic geezer who’s trying to fight off mother nature’s wrath.
Don’t judge me.
When my masseuse came and introduced herself, she was a young twenty-something, but not a fitness trainer-type. She took me back to the room and explained exactly what and how she was going to do. When I had no questions, she stepped out of the room and let me disrobe. I kept my black briefs on, but as I had a blanket covering all of me except the part of my body she was working on, I never really had any modesty issues.
Fifty minutes of massage is very nice. It’s very relaxing, and I did enjoy the treatment. But it wasn’t exactly what I expected. I expected more massage of my back and shoulders, in a broad way. She did work my back and shoulders, but it was more focused in small areas, a few square inches at a time. It was like a doctor’s examination where the doc is trying to feel for inflammation of internal organs. I think she counted the ribs in my back; there was no chest massaging.
All in all, the experience was pleasant, but a little disappointing. The focusing on small areas rather than broad wasn’t what I expected and wanted, but it wasn’t bad. Still, fifty minutes of even focused massage is nice. I left relaxed, no doubt.
Will I make another appointment? I don’t know.