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Happy Ending

A man receives his first massage, and finds a happy ending (not THAT kind).

I generally do not like massages. There is something about a fully clothed stranger touching me while naked that resonates weird in my mind. It brings to mind the clinical setting of my doctor’s office instead of a relaxing environment. Masseuses also ask awkward questions; “What do you like?” and “What do you want me to work on?” in a coy manner. These inquiries remind me of the strip club venue, being awkward but without the obligatory smell of shame. I’m also ticklish.

Despite my hang-ups with massages, I decided to take my wife for a couple’s massage for our anniversary. She assured me that they are nice and relaxing, as did many friends. Immediately, upon entering the spa, however, my reservations were confirmed. Some female employee was sitting in a plush lobby chair when we entered, smiling through he dim lights in a tight-fitting outfit. The walls sparkled with some sort of gold glitter. Music played in the background, the composition being some sort of instrumental melody rather than Pour Some Sugar on Me. Once our eyes adjusted to the dim lights, we were led into a back room with an understanding nod.

“I want you to strip down and lay on the bed,” the lady said. She left the room as we started stripping.

Mounting the massage table was the first sign that this was not an activity I was going to find relaxing. First, the face “port” looks completely uninviting. I did not think, “Oh, this will be relaxing,” when I saw it. I thought instead, “Oh, this looks like the lid to a child’s potty training toilet.” I can only assume it was the spa’s subtle way of saying I looked like shit and needed to add a facial to my spa package.

My wife mounted the table-toilet contraption without difficulty. I, however, became confused as to why it was leaning on an incline backwards. Trying to get on the damn thing, underneath the “serenity shroud” (okay, maybe they did call it a blanket; but, with gold on the walls you know they would call it that if they thought they could get away with it) and comfortable was near impossible. It felt like I was trying to perform some advanced exercise derived by the folks responsible for P90X.

“Why is your face as red as a beet?” asked my wife. “Are you embarrassed or something?’

“No, I’m not embarrassed. It’s the blood rushing to my head because I’m slanted on this table.”

“Okaaaay… Why is your watch still on?”

“Because I just met this lady. For all I know she’s a convicted felon. My boxers are still on for the same reason.”

“Jesus! Will you just relax and enjoy this,” my wife asked sternly. As if on cue, some horrible Enya-esque music came on and the masseuse re-entered the private room. I shut up and shoved my face through the toilet lid.

The massage started and immediately I knew I was in trouble. I did not want to disrupt the “ambiance” for my wife, but I could not shake the thoughts of similarities to strip clubs I had when we arrived. As my face was suspended through the potty trainer, all I could hear was the moist thwack, thwack sound that reminded me of all those lonely teenage nights as the masseuse oiled her palms. When the massage finally began, so did the awakening of my “ticklish” nerve endings. Not laughing was growing harder by the second.

As the massaging continued, so did the awkwardness. I tried to distract myself from the ticklish spasms I was having in my back by trying to imagine what the masseuse was thinking:

“Does this man have Tourette’s or another medical condition? Why does he keep having spasms and twitching?”

“His back reminds me of a fur rug.”

“Just pretend it’s a furry Zac Effron. You can do this! Put your big girl pants on and earn this money. It’s only an hour. Happy thoughts. I think I can. I think I can.”

Suddenly, the caressing stopped and there was a moment of silence. The masseuse leaned down toward my ear, paused for a quick breath, and whispered, “Okay, I’m going to create a tent with this sheet and I want you to flip over onto your back.”

I thought this request was odd; as, under the circumstances and this being my first massage, I assumed I would be the only one creating a tent with the serenity shroud. But, I did what I was told, rolled over and closed my eyes. The masseuse then threw a tampon on my face. Sure, she said it was an “eye pillow” with a napkin underneath for sanitary purposes, but I know it was really a sanitary napkin as payback for making her massage my gorilla back.

The massaging continued on my shoulders, arms and hands. I finally started to relax and was beginning to enjoy the experience when the masseuse moved south. The blanket lifted slightly to expose my right leg. Suddenly, my tranquility was interrupted when the leg of my boxers was moved about with a fierceness I was not expecting. It was as if a ravenous ferret was searching for the last precious morsel of food on the planet.

The problem with her massaging my right thigh is quite simple. I, apparently, am very ticklish in my right thigh. So, as she went to work kneading my thigh like pizza dough, the smile on my face grew larger by the second. At the same time, I started to squirm ever so slightly and make barely audible unintelligible noises as I stifled laughter. I can only imagine what the masseuse thought was going on in my head.

Then it happened. What I hoped and prayed all along wouldn’t. The thing I most dreaded, as I knew it would cause awkwardness and embarrassment for the both of us: she started massaging my feet.

It is probably safe to say that many of you have never seen my feet. Consider yourself lucky. My feet are the victims of years of insufferable abuse to nature’s elements and general hygienic neglect. They make the movies Saw and Hostel look like a Justin Bieber music video; one filled with nothing but pictures of The Biebs and puppies.

There was a pause as the masseuse went to work on my lower extremity carnage. It is my firm, yet unproven belief that the pause was due to an epic battle with her gag reflex. Understandably, she made quick work and stopped. I heard a door open and close. “I have made that poor, poor woman run out of the room and quit her job,” I thought.

Precious seconds later, I felt a moist and searing burn surrounding my feet from toes to heels. I was sure she dumped some sort of acid or other chemical compound on them to prevent contagion to the entire spa building. The Wife alleges that she simply put a hot towel on them as part of the spa experience. I am dubious of her truthfulness in this regard.

The masseuse immediately moved to my face after she attempted to incinerate my feet. I felt a sudden surge of panic as I thought of what was being transferred from my feet to my face on her oily hands. This was soon surpassed, however, by the sheer terror I experienced as her middle fingers covered my nostrils. “She’s trying to suffocate me as punishment for my feet!” I thought. Then, as if she could sense I was on to her plan, she removed her fingers and I could breathe again.

She then tilted my head and cradled the back of my skull in her skillful hands. I was sure that she was about to kill me by snapping my neck. Perhaps, I assumed, she had developed plans to donate my feet to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for scientific study. I envisioned scientists in biohazard suits carefully studying them next to the vials containing the Ebola virus and anthrax. Then, just like that, she released me after a tensely long moment of deliberation on her part.

“Okay. We’re done here,” she whispered dispassionately in my ear. I exhaled deeply and relaxed for the first time in over an hour. This was one massage with a happy ending.

This story is protected by International Copyright Law, by the author, all rights reserved. If found posted anywhere other than with this note attached, it has been posted without my permission.

Copyright © This work has been copyrighted upon its publication by Michael S. Rothrock. All rights reserved. The complete work, nor any portion thereof, may not be reprinted, reproduced, redistributed, or republished without the express written consent of the copyright holder. Violators may be subject to a legal mess.

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