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In Massage, Spa on September 14, 2011 at 6:42 pm

I know that in this world of SNAGs and metrosexuals, it’s probably not very au courant for a guy to say something like this, but it’s the truth.

It’s not like I haven’t tried.

Whenever my wife and I stay at a hotel with an acclaimed spa, or travel to a country where the body treatments are supposed to be a cut above, I give it ago.  I don the silly papery slippers, put on the papery underwear that is always a little too small and wrap myself in a waffle-weave robe.  I allow myself to be asphyxiated by aromatherapy, marinated in the likely germ-ridden hot tubs, and grudgingly acclimated to the soft sounds of the tinkling new age soundtrack.  Yet as my time approaches to be tenderized on the table, I often find myself getting more anxious than relaxed.

Perhaps it’s because of that time that I was stalked at the Borgata Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

I had about an hour before a hot stone massage and was determined to steam and soak away my typical massage-anxiety before the treatment.  Not a chance.

I was towel-clad in the gargantuan steam room for about three minutes before a naked man entered and walked to where I was sitting.  His conversation was ostensibly harmless enough, but there was just something creepy about the way the guy was standing close to me (did I mention the room was gargantuan?), hips thrust forward, gesticulating with more than just his hands.

I excused myself and went to get a shower.  When I stepped out and began towelling off, I found my new “friend” ogling me before making a quick escape around the corner.  Perfect.  Now I was feeling exactly in the right mood for the massage.

Fortunately, the treatment was fine.  I had a down-to-earth Jersey guy as my masseuse who laughed when I told him about my admirer and replied, “you should see what I have to put up with.”  I didn’t ask for more details.

Typically, I find massages more uncomfortable than comfortable.  My face never really fits well in that cradle thing, my adam’s apple usually hits the table in an uncomfortable position, and the entire time I’m trying to think of something to say to the therapist.  Either that or my mind is racing as though I were actually in the different therapist’s office:  calm down; just relax; doesn’t that feel good?; just breathe; oww that really hurts; why am I here when I have all that work to get to?; man, I wish she’d stop doing that, this song is lousy; etcetera.  That’s while I’m face down.

While face up, I am always a bit nervous that something more than rampant thoughts will pop up.  Which is exactly what happened one time in Thailand where the masseur (who a had touch of masseuse in him) massaged areas that certainly didn’t need to be massaged (I’m sorry, but my inner groin just doesn’t hold that much tension.)  After, he had gotten my, er, attention, I didn’t know how to get off the table without becoming even more embarrassed than I already was so I just stepped up that inner dialogue, focusing mostly on the calm down part of the manic mantra.  It worked.  Eventually.

Then there was the time that absolutely nothing popped up even though I was sitting naked with my wife in a tub full of flower petals in Bali.  When we booked, the treatment rooms were occupied but they recommended that we have our massages in a suite.  Sounded nice.  The suite turned out be nothing more than a drab motel room.  As I stared at the stained ceiling while a petite Balinese girl struggled to reach my arm over the expanse of the bed, I wondered why I ever agree to massages in the first place.  When the kneading was over, we were told to go into the bathroom and get into the tub together.  Normally, this would have been a sweet and romantic ending.  But the tub was barely big enough for one, the water had gone tepid and the bathroom itself was built more for bodily functions than bodily bliss.

So after all of these spa mishaps, I think I’m going to steer clear of them for awhile. It just might be the perfect way to really relax.


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