Hell no. One of my greatest hallmarks is the refusal to take a lesson, even when it’s slapped onto my head and speared with swords. In the case of my follicular thriftiness, I could have learned that I get what I pay for, and if I pay nine bucks for a haircut, I generally get three bucks worth of smarts wielding the scissors and six bucks of spray spray clouding my brain.
Luckily for my battered wallet and the well-worn dollar bills that have constructed a permanent home within, I don’t learn nuthin’ nohow, Gomer.
That’s why I also patronize a training program for massage, which is sort of like letting a four-year-old hang my wallpaper–if by “four-year-old” I mean a nineteen-year-old named Brittany and by “hanging wallpaper” I mean stroking my body with oils.
That’s the euphemism you use for it, right? Remember when you were twelve, up in your room for three years, “hanging wallpaper”? Goodness, but your mom thought you were an industrious soul! She never could understand why the wallpaper you later hung in your first home as an adult was so crooked and droopy. With all that practice you’d had, she’d been certain you were a professional! And you were!! Just not at that!!! Tap me, wanker!!!!! But wash your hands first!!!!!!
Jinkies. I was channeling Brittany there for a minute. And let me tell you, having never seen her written work, but simply felt her hands on my back, I had to intuit her predilection for exclamation marks. My first hint was when she wrote one on my clavicle in ylang-ylang oil. It was all well and good when she drew the straight line of the exclamation point, but then she started searching for a place to put the dot at the bottom of it, and suddenly I found myself yelling out, “No nip! No. Nippledom. Step away from the nip, Brit-Brit!”
Oh, all right. So I’m just making up shizz. Like that’s news, Cronkite.
Fact one: I love the feeling of getting a deal. Fact two: the college where I teach has a massage therapy program. Fact three: the massage therapy program offers “clinics” each semester, during which students gain valuable on-the-job experience. Fact four: the clinics cost $15 for an hour massage. Fact five: Fact Four makes me throw out some serious jazz hands.
At such a minimal cost, these clinics book up fast. Every semester, I call on the first day the schedule comes out, attempting to get appointments for both Groom and me, yet often we are too late. But last month, when the schedule was released, the Gods of Muscle Relief beamed my direction: I flexed my dialing finger and went buzzsaw on the phone, managing to book a total of three massages for the household.
Yea, two were for me, and one was for Groom. Who wants to know?
A couple of weeks ago, I went for my first appointment, the Relaxation Massage. After forking over my 1,500 pennies, I was greeted by, yes, Brittany. This Brittany was so imbued with the essence of her Brittanyishness that she made Ms. Spears look like a Velma in comparison. This Brittany, from her bleached hair to her glossy lips to her tight shorts to her faux-tanned legs, set a new standard for manufactured beauty put on public display.
However, she was there, studentizing with some seriousness; clearly, the homeopathic art of massage therapy spoke to something deeper within this girl, something existing in her naturally-beautiful heart (beating an inch beneath her pink push-up bra). Indeed, despite her off-putting facade, Brittany proved to be a total BFF honeypie!!!!!!!!!!
Having hooked up, Brittany and I headed to the room of massageual arts. But here’s the rub (you know you totally read this blog for the puns):
The massage is cheap because it’s part of a clinic–meaning there were nine other patrons getting their massages at the same time as I, and in the same room. About the size of my bedroom at home, the massage room has ten curtained-off cubicles, one for each patron/masseuse pairing. After ushering me to our little Island of Connection within the larger room, Brittany instructed me to disrobe and hop onto the heated massage table. Backing out, she took three clothespins and snapped me into some questionable privacy.
At this moment in the clinic, things got a little surreal. There we were, the ten of us, all getting nudie together in a darkened room, a scenario that felt, somehow, as though it should cost much, much more.
Personally, I’m not overly discomfited about dropping my bundies in a relatively public place; I’ve given birth, after all, which constitutes the ultimate modesty decimation. But it was strange to be stripping down in my place of work, one floor below my office, down the hall from my classroom. At this most-recent massage, I was three feet away from a colleague who teaches psychology (“Yo, Betsy! How’s your sabbatical going?”), two feet away from a mustachioed lawyer, and generally able to hear the intimate shuffles, scratches, and coughs of my cheek-exposed peers.
Once everyone was naked and warmly tucked in, the masseuses returned and unclipped the curtains, pulling them back so that the cubicles disappeared, leaving the twenty of us sharing a unified space. At that point, the clinic got even more surreal, for the students practiced the “massage script”–all ten, simultaneously, dipping their heads down to their respective clients, loudly whispering in unison: “I’m going to start the massage now, (insert name of client), and if at any point you’d like me to use more or less pressure, please let me know. I’m going to begin by working on your scalp.”
Because some spoke more quickly than others, those sentences tapered off awkwardly at the end, with the last student masseuse left self-conscious as his uttering of “scalp” rang out, a cappella, throughout the room.
For the next hour, the scripted lines were presented periodically–always simultaneously, as the various parts of the body received attention. Every now and then, I fought off the urge to counsel Brittany, “You can speak for yourself, Brittany! I will understand your own particular way of relaying the information; I can perceive that you are an individual, despite the script and the fake tan that are currently defining you!! Brittany!!!!! Hear me, Brittany!!!!!!!!!!!!! Brittany?? Brit-Brit?”
Ouch. Perhaps perceiving my internal monologue, Brittany dug one of her French tips just a tidge too hard into my calf. Of course, my heavily-muscled calf is made of steel, and her tip snapped off, where it remains embedded in my leg to this day.
Eventually, at the same pre-scripted minute, the massage was over, the curtains were redrawn and clipped, and the students retreated. We citizens re-dressed and made our way, cheeks flushed, out into the daylight, trying to preserve the sense of relaxation as we began recalling the grocery list, the kids to pick up, the meeting at 3 o’clock.
Overall, the upshot of my reliance on student trainees is this: I am willing to pay people to put their hands on me, but I’m not willing to pay them much,
and this is–in no way
at all indicative of any
deep and longstanding
I might have.
It’s not at all kind of sad.
So stop thinking that.
You’re just a big, dumb boozer anyhow, so what do I–WHAT?
Am not, either,
you kettle of blackness daring to call me Potsy.
You’re the dumb drinker who passes unfounded judgments.
No, you’re the dumb drinker.
No, you are.
A judgey drunk.
Maybe you need to go get your hair cut and your body massaged, and then you’d feel nicer.
I can hook you up. Bring five dollars.