Deep Tissue, Deeply Discounted

I could have taken my experiences at cosmetology school and washed that cheapitude right out of my hair.

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.

Refocusing now:

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

self-esteem issues

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.






21 responses to “Deep Tissue, Deeply Discounted”

  1. citizen of the world Avatar
    citizen of the world

    Judging by that little melt-down at the end, I’m going to take a pass on the massage/haircut deal!

  2. flutter Avatar

    Dude. Come to my house, I will rub you for free AND cook you dinner.

    In a wig.

    and heels.

    and singing jazz.

    wait, all of this sounded sexual and it totally isn’t. but now I sound like I am protesting too much. I’m not!

    Oh, hell.

  3. lime Avatar

    yes please!

    *waves her $5 bill like a recently divorced woman at a chippendales revue*

    what’s not to love about the combination of obtaining an indulgence in a thrifty manner. you ARE my psychic sister.

  4. Shania Avatar

    I’ll be the Ralph to your Potsy. I’ll totally splurge for both of us because I never deny myself anything (which is maybe why I’m broke?)

  5. cathy Avatar

    Hair, I dye my own hair and sometimes miss a bit. As for massage – one of my students,an eight year old boy, has a vibrating toy frog that he sometimes tickles my neck with and it doesn’t cost me a penny!
    Bargain is my middle name.

  6. heartinsanfrancisco Avatar

    I’m picturing Picasso’s blue period, a Civil War hospital ward or maybe something from the Marquis de Sade.

    I studied massage therapy a long time ago but never intended to do it professionally. It’s lucky they have heated tables, though – isn’t it already deep winter in Minnesota? (Ooof-dah.)

  7. Kylie w Warszawie Avatar
    Kylie w Warszawie

    Heck, I’m so cheap I don’t even GET massages.

    Actually, I’ve had exactly one in my lifetime and while it was okay, I don’t like being naked in front of people (other than my husband, ob/gyn, and a few hundred neighbors that can see my bedroom from their houses) and I had just had a baby 4 months before and she touched my jiggly belly and made a comment. That was the end of massages for me.

  8. choochoo Avatar

    now I feel like such a sucker for having my hair fixed at the salon. lol. And I’ll prolly do it again, too, cause I don’t take lessons either.

  9. Jazz Avatar

    I’m thinking I’ll stick with the $60/hour massages. Yup. Somehow yours wouldn’t quite do it for me.

  10. furiousBall Avatar

    i’ve had DTM recommended to me several times for my back issues as well as my carpal tunnel/tendinitis issues in my forearms. i’m hoping my holding out will build up a tolerance to the pain and i will overcome

  11. Franki Avatar

    The first part of this post made me feel like I was riding a rollercoaster drunk, the middle part had me cringing bc I have issues with strangers touching me, much less in a crowded room of others being touched by strangers, unless I am drunk, of course, which I am not, even though I felt like it just a moment ago on that rollercoaster, bc it’s not even noon here missy, but then the end made me all warm and comfortable again as I realized this whole post was about drunk judging and that I can manage.

  12. Shieldmaiden96 Avatar

    I’ve only ever had one massage, it was seventy-five dollars, and it was a gift from my mom on my 36th birthday. I climbed the stairs, disrobed in a Victorian-themed massage room, and from the second the masseuse put her hands on me I knew what all the fuss was about. I gave her a $20 tip and stopped just short of giving her a hug, then stumbled blissfully into the sunshine and had lunch somewhere. I don’t even remember where. If there was a drug that gave you that post massage feeling I’d so be addicted to it.

  13. Amy Avatar

    Once, on a young and inebriated trip to Thailand, I signed up for a massage in a thai massage house on a island made famous for lunar drug addled shenanagens (spelling?) and after about 5 minutes, two bottles of oil and three bottomless Israeli tourist girls it became slowly clear to me….wait a minute….this isn’t a massage parlor…this is….oh good god.

    I was certain I’d have abnormal pap smears for years after that from the bathrobes alone.

  14. Glamourpuss Avatar

    I will never look at wallpaper paste the same way.

    And surely you mean jizz hands…


  15. jess Avatar

    My sister’s a massage therapist and boy did I enjoy helping her practice while she was in school. Rudely, she moved to the UK and is now no good to me at all when it comes to massages.

    You maybe make me laugh more than anyone else on the intarwebs. Plus I’ve always wanted to visit Montana (um, I don’t know, but I think it has something to do with Norman Maclean) so I propose I show up at your place, some random Friday night with a pan full of marscapone brownies and my sleeping bag and I’ll bring Flutter and she can sing jazz (after she eats her share of brownies) and give us massages.

    I’d offer to me the masseuse, but you know, I’m so decrepit, what with my rheumatoid arthritis, and my weakness of character….

  16. jess Avatar

    Um, I meant “BE” the masseuse. OBviously.

  17. chelle Avatar

    hahahaha …. I say no to the massage although I am always letting them whack my hair!

  18. Teresa Avatar

    I’ve gotten a pedicure from the community college in my neighborhood. It took twice as long as it needed too and the ambiance was none too cool either. There was lots of gossip going on between the clinicians and I really wasn’t interested in what the girl in the trailer down the road thought of her manicure instructor. I think I’ll pass on the massage.

  19. Anette Avatar

    I love this story! Especially the jazz hands from point 5! You know how describe situations so vivid, that I’m sure I must have been in one of the cubicals next to you!

  20. Princess Pointful Avatar
    Princess Pointful

    I feel my shoulder knots calling out, beginning with that photo. I need back rubs so very badly.

  21. pistols at dawn Avatar
    pistols at dawn

    At least you can pay others to touch you. I’m sure it’d be lovely, but I just can’t bring myself to get a massage, not even the type where for an extra Jackson, some old Asian lady would ensure a happy ending.

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