It had been a while, but I remembered that last time I got a massage I prepaid for two more (I'm a sucker for those "specials" that I never use). It had been so long ago that I didn't even remember where the place was … but to my surprise, I still had that tattered card in my wallet.
I called and asked if I could swing by …
"We have one more appointment open," the girl on the other end said.
"That's great," I said reading a name on the card, "There was a girl last time named Carol. Is she available?"
"Well … we are working the rotating schedule this afternoon."
"So who do I have?"
"I really don't know."
That was apparently all the information I was going to get. I suppose I was lucky to get the one appointment. I just hope I didn't get a guy named Rocco.
It's an interesting place. The outer waiting area had a little desk with five women squeezed into a space that could barely accommodate two. They all were busy with important massage stuff. Two were on the phones (one had a real problem with someone she named Bobby who didn't pick up the kids), another was on her cell phone texting messages while chewing her gum in an alternate rhythm, one just stared into space and the other said ….
"Hi … Do you have an appointment?"
I told her my story and she walked me into the inner waiting area with the standard massage parlor interiors: sticks of bamboo in corners everywhere, comfy couches that sit two inches off the floor, water coolers and Ravi Shankar music mixed with ocean waves piped in every corner.
I settled into (literally) one of the couches knowing I would need a crane to lift me out. Out of the corner of my eye I saw … Rocco. No … don't come to me …
"Hello," he said. "Would you like something to drink?"
"Um … no thanks …" I started to try to get up.
"Wanda will be with you in just a few minutes."
I started to wonder what Wanda would be like. All I could think about was Wanda the massage therapist on In Living Color. Remember Jamie Foxx? It would just be my luck …
"Hello, Mr. Momberg?"
I looked up and there was Wanda. It was right there on her badge. She looked more like a retired school teacher than a therapist. I would guess she was a few years older than me.
"Yes. That's me."
"Very good. Follow me to the Fern Room. We have names instead of numbers. People get a little lost in the maze and it's easier to find your room this way."
Hmmm … I wonder how many people get up and move around the hallways during their massages.
"Here we are." She led me into the room. "Take off whatever you feel comfortable with and just lie here face down. I'll be back soon."
I started to undress as soon as she left. It wasn't two minutes before I got my pants off and she knocked and entered. "Oh … sorry … not done yet?"
"No … " stupidly ducking behind the table. "Um almost…"
"Okay … I'll just turn my back."
I slipped into the sheet and put my face into that dumb ox collar that pushes all the blood from your head. "This should be interesting." I thought to myself.
"Now I will apply pressure and you just let me know if you need more or less. If you don't speak I will assume all is okay."
As she started on my shoulders, I had to ask it. "Have you done this a long time?"
"Oh heavens no. I came here from Ohio and have been doing massage for about two months ...
(great) … actually I am a retired elementary school teacher." I KNEW IT!
She eventually got to a lipoma on my shoulder that has been there forever. "Did you know that you have a lipoma here?"
"Yes. Been there for a long time."
"You should have that removed."
"Well … I know it's not really dangerous and really cosmetic …"
"I had one on my back that was removed. Here … She pulled up her shirt and showed me. You can touch it."
Oh man … get me outta here. "No really that's okay .."
"Touch it. It's a miracle. No scar and no problem. It was as big as yours."
I touched it. "Yes … I see. Incredible."
There was a lot of information shared that afternoon. I didn't ask but found out all about her kids, grandkids, Ohio, book clubs, and more. I was really afraid to ask about her training as a masseuse but based on the final results, my back pain was still there so I think it might have been minimal.
I drank a lot of water that afternoon … mixed in with a lot of scotch.