Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Man Massage... just say no

Long before the horrific event ever took place I was skeptical about getting a massage from another man. It’s not that I’m homophobic, quite the contrary. It’s just the thought of another man rubbing his hands all over my body isn’t very appealing. Subsequently whenever I’ve scheduled a massage I’ve always been very careful to ask for a female masseuse. Then one foul day circumstances conspired against me. I was on my company’s annual performance club trip at a resort in Arizona. It’s one of those deals where a company rewards the sales rep’s who make their quotas by taking them on an all expenses paid trip. One of the complimentary activities on the trip was a deep tissue massage for me and my wife. We’ve always enjoyed getting massages so we looked forward to this activity. The only problem was that the massages were scheduled by my company in advance so I didn’t have the opportunity to request a female masseuse. No big deal – I figured I could just as easily make my request when we arrived at the spa. The minute we walked through the door I approached the receptionist and told her I preferred a female masseuse. Bad news – she informed me that the only massage therapists available were male. Apparently I wasn’t the only homophobe who wasn’t keen on receiving his massage from another man - proactive bastards. I had to act quickly. I promptly asked the receptionist if I could reschedule my massage for a different time. Perhaps there was a female masseuse available later in the day? SOL – she explained that they were completely booked for the remainder of our trip due to the large scale of our corporate function. So I was left in a quandary. I could pass on a completely free massage and risk being tagged a homophobe or I could bite the bullet and take the man massage. Being the fiscally conservative and socially conscious person that I am I decided on the latter – after all how bad could it be? Getting a massage from a woman is a peaceful, relaxing, and enjoyable experience. How much of a difference could the gender of the masseuse really make? I soon found out the answer to this question: A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT! For the next 45 minutes I would partake in perhaps the single most unpleasant experience of my entire life. And I wish I was exaggerating. As I laid there helpless and vulnerable I experienced new heights of discomfort I never knew possible. Large man hands rubbed purposefully and methodically up and down my torso, arms, then legs. Hairy man forearms rolled deeply and slowly across my upper and lower back. Strong man fingers squeezed carefully and firmly on my shoulders and neck. And all the while a deep man voice, sensing my uneasiness, coaxed for an approval that could not be found. Throughout the encounter I tried various mental exercises to focus my attention away from the gender of my masseur. Mind over matter I told myself. But all attempts at distraction were futile. Time stood still as I pondered if life would ever be the same. At one point I wanted to throw myself off the table and run. At another point I thought I might cry. Then finally, after my senses grew numb and my spirit shaken, the horror came to an end. As I walked back to the locker room at an uneasy gait, unable to look my masseur in the eyes, I felt a strange mix of relief, nausea, and shame. I proceeded to take a long, hot shower to wash away the remnants of oil from my skin. Unfortunately no shower could have been long or hot enough to wash away the remnants of the experience from my mind. For the remainder of the day I was restless and anxious. I also felt a compelling need to share the grim details of my ordeal with anyone who would listen. Perhaps the salvation of others might help to ease the burden I now bared. To this day I’m not sure if my extreme reaction was due more to my own personal insecurities or to the event itself. Whatever the reason I strongly urge any man who reads this to never ever get a man massage, regardless of the circumstances. If this advice spares just one innocent soul from an experience similar to mine, I will consider this blog a huge success.

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