Thursday, June 30, 2016

Massage "Therapy"

In my opinion, a work event is the perfect and most appropriate place to do a split and severely strain your hamstring.  How else is everyone you work with going to know your full set of capabilities?  And boy did I show them.  I showed them ALL exactly how much wine one Irish girl can consume in one sitting, and how flexible I thought I was in comparison to how flexible I really am. 

The next day, I woke up extremely hungover and in so much pain that I immediately toppled over as soon as I stepped out of bed.  I live alone now, so there was no calling to the other room for help or ice packs or Gatorade or the tennis ball walker I should own.  So I crawled towards the living room to accept my fate and pity myself on the couch.

I thought, “I could really use a massage right now.”  And a few minutes later, a deep tissue massage was booked at a tiny little spa on LaBrea that looks terrifying on the outside, but is surprisingly cozy and wonderful on the inside (just like everything else in Los Angeles.)

Now, if you’ve ever had a deep tissue massage, you probably know that it’s a pretty intense, slightly painful rub down of your body… and it’s incredibly dehydrating.  So was it the best idea to do this while several of my muscles were down for the count and I was already under-hydrated?  Not even a little bit.

Nevertheless, I showed up and Robert, my masseuse, ushered me to the couples’ massage room.  I imagine this was some kind of sick joke as I was very recently out of a relationship and nobody would be joining me in the most romantic room on the planet.  Except a man who was almost overly adamant that I kept my underwear on.  I swear I heard him nervously mutter “please” under his breath.

I changed out of my clothes - keeping my underwear on for Robert’s sake - and lied face down on the table. When Robert came back in, he told me to breathe in while he placed a napkin covered in some sort of perfume or essential oil through the face portion of the table.  For a brief second, I thought it was beautifully scented chloroform and I was going to die that day.  

I lived. But barely.

As the massage began, everything felt lovely and blissful.  My neck and shoulders are always tense because of sitting all day at work, having bad posture and these dumb boobs. But then Robert started getting inquisitive.

“Do you sit all day at work?”

“Yes, I do.”

“I can tell.”

Well, okay.  Thanks for letting me know.

“So what do you do for work?”

I’m always one to prefer zero social interaction, but sure - I’ll talk to you about my life!

“I work at an advertising agency.”

“Nice! Is it far?”

“Yeah, it’s in Playa Vista.”

“That must be a rough commute.”

“Kinda, it’s about 30-45 minutes each way.  But I don’t mind, I have my music and podcasts and - “

“I can tell because you have a lot of knots throughout the side of your right leg.”


“You should put the car in auto-pilot whenever you can.”

From there, I understood Robert’s game.  He didn’t want to know more about me, he wanted to find passive aggressive ways to judge me.

“Do you work out?”

Well here is where I can get you, Robert, because I actually do and there’s nothing you can say to prove otherwise!

“Yes! I do yoga or some sort of cardio every day.” I proudly responded.

“You don’t stretch before you work out.”

[Sound of balloon deflating.]

“Oh… well…”

“I can tell in your muscles, you really need to make sure you stretch your hamstrings and hips before you do any type of work out.”

“OK, well I do yoga… so I thought…”

“You really need to make sure you’re properly warming up your muscles.”


Finally, Robert got to my left hamstring/thigh/hip/butt/problem area so I could get that fixed and get out of there.  Until, of course, it hurt so badly that I could barely stand the pain.

“You need to stop resisting.”

“I’m trying! It hurts!”

“Nothing’s going to get fixed if your body keeps resisting!”

“I’M TRYING. My body’s just doing it!”

“Just relax.”


“You’re giving me a real workout.” Robert had the audacity to say.

“Well, I hope you stretched first.” I responded to no reaction.

Robert kept pressing, my body kept pushing back and the tears streamed down my face. Then, the headache came.  Followed by dry mouth.  I was so afraid I was going to pass out right there in the hands of a man who did nothing but make me feel terrible about every life decision I’ve ever made in the most romantic location two people could possibly be in.

Thankfully, there was no passing out.  And eventually, Robert let up as soon as the generic instrumental massage sounds CD stopped playing.  He pressed the floral chloroform napkin to my face one more time and I begrudgingly breathed in the lavender scent one last time through tears over my aching body.  

Robert left me to “relax” for a few minutes before I got changed.  I lied on the massage table with oil in my hair, makeup all over my face and absolutely zero will to get up and face the rest of my life, nevermind the rest of my day.  I slowly lifted myself up, downed a bottle of water and left the candlelit massage room looking a little more disheveled, and in slightly more pain, than I was when I entered the room… which I didn’t think was even possible.

“You’re looking a little bit taller today, Ms. Barrett!”

I couldn’t even muster anything more than a grunt towards the woman at the front desk who was somehow taking money from me after the experience I just had.  I stuffed $20 in a tiny manila envelope and asked her to pass it on and give my best to my friend, Robert.  

I thought I was in the clear until Robert chased me out the door, thanked me and handed me a business card that had the word “Yelp!” written all over it.  

Sure, Robert, I’ll Yelp about you.  I’ll be yelping all night because of you.  And I’ll make sure to keep my car in autopilot the entire way home so I never have to go back and endure your painful hands and judgment again.

I finally returned home feeling more hungover and more in pain than I’d ever felt in my life.  I looked in the mirror to see mascara covering my entire face, which Robert naturally failed to mention as he ushered me out of the massage place.  And somehow, after all of that, my underwear was missing.

Just kidding.  But that would have been really funny.

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