Sorry to spoil the happy ending

It’s all my brother’s fault. Over dinner he mentioned how much better he felt after getting a massage. The muscles above my right kidney had been grumbling for awhile, so on the way home from work today I stopped by the massage place I’ve passed a thousand times. I remember unremarkably positive yelp reviews and it looked like an unremarkably adequate place in an unremarkable office building. Open windows. No neon. Light decoration.



The ache lived somewhere in the oblique end of things

“Good afternoon, could I make an appointment, maybe tomorrow?”


“Tomorrow OK, why no now?” she asked with an enthusiasm that made the cliche of the situation more bearable. I bumbled an acceptance and a moment later she shoved me into a room, voice sneaking in as she closed the door. “Take off.”


“Wait, what? Take off how much?” I asked the unremarkable room. Massage table with paper towels in the face cup, slightly shabby sofa in the corner, and end table with unlit candles surrounding a slightly tattered legal notice along the lines of Any and all illegal acts are prohibited on this premises.


I stripped down to my skivvies and was standing awkwardly beside the table when she bustled back in. Seeing my drawers, she gestured with a sort of Far-East efficiency “Take off all!”


So I did. Lay down. She covered me with a towel. Gave me an adequate massage. I’ve only had a few, but this one seemed….adequate. In hindsight, there were so many clues. But I figured it was all normal. I reckoned my time was up when she said “Okay!” so was a little surprised when she added “Turn over.”


But the show really got going when her hand dropped matter-of-factly right on the spot that masseuses aren’t supposed to touch. Yes that spot.


“You want this?” She inquired. I looked down at the woman, dress whose length probably should have tipped me off, movements whose tendency to rub her pelvis on my elbow could have been a give-away, and whose first question “You want me or her?” suddenly should have aroused my…concern. She was still looking at me. I couldn’t think what to say. The moment stretched. Finally she added “Is $40 for hand.”


Oh thank god. “Um….sorry….I…um…I only have like 10 bucks.” I smiled apologetically.


“You sure? You want check wallet?”


“Uh….no….I um….just have enough for lunch.” She looked at me while we both pretended not to remember my smalltalk statement that I lived nearby. Finally she accepted my answer with an offended sniff and finished up the massage with 9 seconds of what I can only describe as punching my thigh.


On my way out I passed another man in the stairwell. He didn’t make eye contact. I bet he had at least $40 extra in his wallet. Then I stepped onto the street, feeling much better. The massage had lightly slightly softened the knots in my shoulders, but much better was the reminder that one can find the surprising and bizarre anywhere, even minutes from your front door.


After all, when I woke up this morning I had no idea that my brother’s offhand comment would lead to a woman I’d never met before being irate with me for refusing her handjob. Life is fun.