Actually, it IS Rocket Science

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Hands on, pt 2

Whether you have or have not kept up with my previous rejected experiences as a relaxation recipient, you can catch up here.

A few years went by and I had decided that massages, just like clown college or opting to be an egg donor, aren’t for everyone, until my mom and a friend visited me while I was living in Chicago.  We had an absolutely great time wandering around the downtown loop and enjoying all the great restaurants and events that the area brings, when her friend mentioned wanting to get a massage at the spa next door to their hotel.  I was invited to partake and was happy to oblige, since I had filed the previous experience as just a rookie mistake; surely lightning couldn’t strike twice.  As I looked through the spa menu, I recalled that one of my best friends had recently raved about a reflexology massage she had undergone and its long-lasting effects on her health.  I opted for this, while ruling out my inability for people to touch my feet out of sheer ticklishness, plus I knew I wouldn’t be tickled if my feet were handled with the authority of a massage therapist’s hands and not by a featherweight.  Plus I really just didn’t want any other part of my body touched by strange hands after the previous encounter.

The young man came in and introduced himself timidly, and it took maybe about a half minute to tell that he was a recovering stutterer.  I smiled and explained I had never had a reflexology massage before and he replied that he was well received by all of his previous clients.  I was actually happy to enter into this brief relationship as he seemed very modest and wanting to do his job well, all while being acutely self-aware of his minor speech impediment, because he’d present an almost unnoticable tic when he began to do so.  At the time, I approached scenarios like these with the graces of a 60-year-old WASP, where I was perfectly happy to not discuss the obvious and sweep any personal issues under the heaviest rug one can find and pretend there’s no issue no matter how bad it gets (if the Hindenburg was going down, I was asking about the New Jersey dining establishments the survivors frequented upon their escape), and certainly not to do or say anything that might spark an uncomfortable feeling that may ignite past inflictions.  I basically smiled and nodded like a grinning idiot and let him go about massaging my feet.

It took about 10 minutes into the hour-long process for me to notice a significant issue at hand, because as he pressed his thumbs into the softest underside of my feet, I felt a slight sharpness on one foot.  Well, I say sharpness, but it was more like jumping full weight on one foot onto broken glass.  It wasn’t long before I had  come to the conclusion that the gentleman had an extremely ragged thumbnail that had not been shaped and was now dragging it along my sole in the same fashion one would use to scale a fish.

You know how they tell you that people put through torture will often give away tightly-knit information just so they can get out of it?  I was fully ready to disclose to this guy of how I wore underwear beneath my bathing suit one time because I thought that was what you’re supposed to do since you do it in the dressing rooms.  I was 4.  The hosts were forgiving. Moving on.

The next 50 minutes turned into a test of behavioral science and endurance as with every twist and turn of what should have been a very therapeutic and stress-releasing turn of the thumbs on his part became a tribulation of how not to cringe or cry out in agony as he pressed harder and deeper throughout, and my initial reaction was to cry out in panic and pain.  At one point my entire right leg gave up on me and pulled up in an almost knee-jerk reaction, to which the guy laughed and pulled my foot back to proceed to jab his jagged thumb-sword into my feet again and say, “Are we a little bit ticklish?”

I don’t know.  Are we a little bit sadistic?

I laid there like William Wallace in his final moments getting my right foot completely eviscerated and finished with my heart beating faster than someone who I would imagine had just gotten their first bone marrow tattoo.  The guy ended his reign of terror and stood up, explaining, “I’m going to leave you here now, and you take all the time you need to come back down and you can exit through here whenever you’re ready.  Take your time.”



I guess I could take my time to come back down from an hour of torture, but judging by what I’ve seen per Texas Chainsaw viewings and the like, a victim usually tears off like an Olympic track athlete when they see their chance.

Which is exactly what I did.


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  1. * Sula says:

    Shit, Ashlin! You have had the WORST experiences in body-care that I’ve ever heard of in my life!! (Guess you need an Anna-or-a-Jason type, who were both amazing care-givers, to reverse this horrible cycle!) I’m so sorry, b/c I feel you are missing so much good stuff!! However, you do remind me of my husband, who cannot STAND to have his feet rubbed or his body touched by Anyone but me…And that’s not a compliment to ME…..just a measure of his up-tightednss (is that a word?) about being touched on bared parts of his body by someone he doesn’t know!!!) :-)))
    I love your writing…I always know I’m in for a treat when you post to your blog!
    Love you, Cornflakegirlie! 🙂

    | Reply Posted 7 years, 4 months ago

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