Ah...
Ah…

Want to send me into LaLaLand? Rub my feet. Or at least give me a gift to have someone else rub my feet. And so it was that I was headed toward my second foot massage the other day, as I had been fortunate enough to receive two “foot reflexology and massage” gift certificates for Christmas.

I went for my first one a few weeks ago, and though it was different than I expected (more body massage than foot), it was still quite delightful. It was an interesting little setup, with these Lazy-Boy type chairs that recline to fully horizontal. Throw in the fake fire “burning” on the big screen TV, a little ethereal mood music, and I was game. The young woman who took care of me did a lovely job and I actually had my mind taken off of things for a while.

Then there was my second massage.

The first time I went, I was the only person in the large room of about 10 chairs. This time, there was another woman off to the corner…with a guy massaging her. A guy? The thought hadn’t crossed my mind that there would be masseurs, as well as masseuses (yes, I’m all about the proper massage therapy terminology). Hmmm…that would be a little weird, I thought to myself. No guy besides my husband has ventured to lay hands on me in that way for eons. I just closed my eyes and tried to relax.

I heard this low, monotone voice say, “Hi. I’m Patrick,” and I opened my eyes to see a young 20-something set down the soak bucket in front of me. He did not sound unlike Patrick Star from SpongeBob. In fact, if there was a line-up of guys you would think least likely to be a masseur, his number would be called again and again. “This should be interesting,” I thought.

While my feet soaked and got less “footy,” Patrick started on my head and shoulders. “Let me know if you want more or less pressure,” he droned. Now, for whatever reason, I never like to tell someone who is giving me a massage to go easier—some sort of twisted sense of pride? Whatever it is, it’s stupid. Patrick started in on my neck, which is a big ball of tension, and I thought, hey, this may be okay…then he moved to my scalp. I didn’t know if he was breaking off strands of hair or simply ripping them out from the follicles, but…wow. The noise inside my head sounded like a mob of angry crickets. But I took it, dammit.

By the time he moved to my arms, I was fairly certain he was making it up as he went along. He seemed to be trying to relocate my never-been-dislocated shoulder. I figured maybe he was stretching out my socket. Then he did some sort of weird finger tap dance up and down my arm. I swallowed a giggle and wondered if I was on Candid Camera. But when he moved over to my other arm and did the exact same thing, I realized he was either a very good remember-er or there was a method to his madness. Slowly but not-so-surely he made his way down to my feet. His technique of pat, press, and poke made me wonder just what sort of massage school he had attended, but I hung in there.

He could be perceptive, though—as when he asked, “Too hard?” after he pushed into the arch of my foot so deeply I was certain my spleen had exploded. (I’m no expert in reflexology, but I’m pretty sure he killed my spleen in that moment.) Perhaps it was the convulsive movement that mimicked being electrocuted that hinted to him that he had been a bit too firm.

At some point, it became all about survival. After the foot portion of the rub, it moved to my back, with the chair fully reclining, and me on my stomach. Talk about feeling vulnerable…with my gluteus MAXimus at the mercy of “Hi. I’m Patrick.” The poking, pressing, and prodding continued.

I realized I was now much tenser than when I first sat down. My claustrophobic self was just concentrating on breathing (the little “face ring” that is supposed to allow a person to breath easily never quite does the trick for me). I may have even promised God that if I survived this I would strive to be a better person.

To add to the ambiance, the woman in the corner was now making odd grunting and moaning noises. I wasn’t sure if she needed help or a cigarette. Just as I was concentrating on ignoring her animalistic noises, Patrick took me by surprise and bent my recently operated on knee back beyond its acceptable range of motion. It was at that point that I overcame my “massage machismo” and nearly barked, “No!” I think I stunned him, but he was a good listener. He didn’t even try the other knee, and I wasn’t going to remind him, either.

By the end, I briefly entertained the idea of asking the receptionist for my “I Survived Patrick” t-shirt. Instead, I’ll make sure to request the woman from my first visit. In fact, I may need to schedule that soon, since I still haven’t untangled myself from Patrick’s masterpiece.

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