Technically this isn’t my first massage. Last time, a woman named Erin injured my shoulder, then a sales lady tried to double-talk me into a year-long indenture. I was not thrilled. But I’m giving massages a second chance. My therapist comes to get me from the waiting area. I have to say ‘therapist’ because ‘masseuse’ is innuendo. Apparently.
My therapist asks where my perceived problem areas are. Answer: everywhere. It’s all a problem area. Quads? Check. Hamstrings? Yep. Shoulders? See above. Add it to the list of problem areas, Jimmy. Jimmy is the name of my masseu…therapist.
Jimmy leaves me alone in the massage room to undress. I pull my shirt over my head and hold it in my hands.
I have a flashback to an evening with a friend; we watched an a porn video with the most meta plot you can possibly imagine. A guy was auditioning for a role in a porn movie, and a smartly-dressed director lady would evaluate his ability to play the role. The auditionee yanked off his shirt and tossed it carelessly onto a couch, then stepped out of his jeans and left them the floor. The director lady barked at him to fold his clothes properly (as best I could tell—the actors spoke in Czech, and I don’t know much Czech). The auditionee made some sassy, uncooperative reply before reluctantly folding his clothes. Then he proceeded to fail miserably at the rest of the audition.
I fold my shirt into a neat square. I do the same with my pants and stack them on the floor. I don’t want to conduct myself like that guy.
During a massage, I have no idea how much I am supposed to hurt. Jimmy tells me to let him know if he is applying too much pressure. But how much is that? How do I know that a lot of pressure isn’t what is required to repair me? My solution: just endure the pain. I take a deep breath in and hold it for as long as possible so the outward pressure of the air inside my body matches the inward pressure that Jimmy is applying to my scapula. Okay, he is halfway down my back, so maybe three more seconds…wait, why is he pausing? I can’t hold my breath while he pauses like this! By the time Jimmy gets to my legs, I give up on the breath-holding. The massage hurts either way. At one point, I do inhale sharply, and Jimmy backs off the pressure. Jimmy seems to know what he’s doing. I prefer Jimmy to Erin the shoulder-injuring masseuse. Therapist. Dammit, who ruined this word for me?
After a massage, they tell you to over-hydrate because the “toxins will be flushing out.” That sounds suspicious to me. Toxins? What toxins? Flushing from where? And where are they flushing to? Should I look for them in the toilet? On my insoles? In my sweat? Are toxins visible? If they’re not, how do we know they’re flushing?
Also, if I over-hydrate and my body feels good in a few days, how do I know that the massage did anything? Couldn’t I just feel better because I’m better hydrated? Now I want to conduct a study where half of my subjects get a massage and the other half walk into a massage room and just get told to hydrate. Then I want to check in with them in three days to find out how much better they all feel. Do we think three days is enough to get over the disappointment of being sent to a massage clinic, told to hydrate, and sent away without a massage? Because that’s a major ripoff. If I were one of my test subjects, I’d be pretty peeved about it. Actually, scratch this study idea. I’ve decided it’s a bad idea.
The jury is still out on massages. Clearly.