“Look on the bright side,” said the annoyingly cheerful woman as she ushered us down a dimly lit hallway. “At least you’ll be able to cross this off your bucket list.”
Yeah? Well, sorry there, overly happy lady, but of all the things on my bucket list — even the ones way down at the bottom of the list, like “Read the Old Testament,” or “Swim in the Great Salt Lake,” or “Watch an episode of ‘One Tree Hill’ ” — this is definitely not among them. Come to think of it, this wouldn’t even make my list of Tolerable Medical Procedures for Folks Over Age 50.
So, what could possibly be worse than a colonoscopy or a pelvic exam? I’ll tell you what. A massage.
I don’t know what it is, but there’s just something about getting a massage that rubs me the wrong way. Ho! Get it? Massages rub me the wrong way? I slay me.
With all due respect to those who love a good massage — and there are plenty of you out there — to me, it has all the appeal of a vigorous and thorough dental cleaning. Only without the promise of a new toothbrush at the end.
So when my wife texted me a few weeks ago and asked if I wanted to get a massage, I wasn’t exactly Mr. Enthusiasm. Nor would this be any old ordinary massage, either. This was going to be a “couples massage.”
That doesn’t sound so bad, you say? OK, then do me a favor. Read the following sentence — out loud — to the closest person you can find, this very moment: “I recently had a couples massage.”
See how stupid those two words, when spoken aloud, sound together?
You should know that my wife is a massage fiend. Anytime I’m sitting on the couch watching TV, she’ll come into the room and craftily work her way into a seated position on the floor in front of me, her back within arm’s length of my idle hands. If I don’t take the hint, she’ll kind of roll her shoulders in a circular motion and say something like, “My neck muscles are soooo tight.” (Transparent? Perhaps. But listen, rubbing her back during basketball games is an incredibly small price to pay for a woman who has spent the last 30 years keeping me from becoming your basic homeless person.)
Needless to say, she’s gotten a few massages in her life. Me? Not so much. In fact, I’d NEVER had a massage. Not even at one of those free-10-minute-massage kiosks in the mall. Oh sure, my helpmeet has occasionally rubbed my back at church, but I hardly think that qualifies as a proper rubdown.
So when my wife suggested a couples massage, I figured at the very least it would be nice to have a veteran john with me the first time. You know, to keep me from embarrassing myself with things like referring to someone getting a legitimate massage as a “john.”
And so, on a recent Saturday morning, we hit the local day spa for our couples massage. First, our hostess pointed to a small cubbyhole of a changing room and told us to get out of our street clothes and put on the robes in the lockers there. The missus eagerly stripped like her clothes were on fire; I’d come prepared with a modest pair of swim trunks. Sorry, but outside the confines of my own home, this kid doesn’t go commando anywhere.
We were then led to the couples massage room by two female masseuses. (Today’s word-fun question: How come the plural of “masseuse” is “masseuses,” but the plural of “moose” isn’t “mooses”?)
Honestly? I’ve been in dark alleys that were better lit. Plus which, they had some sort of Yanni-meets-Kenny-G-on-Ambien music playing over the intercom.
I spent the next hour about as uncomfortable as I’ve ever been, my body as rigid as a two-by-four, while the masseuse occasionally tried offering helpful advice like, “This would probably go a lot better if you’d at least unclench your fists, sir.”
I kept wanting to tell her, “It’s not you, it’s me.”
Look, I fully admit it. I’m a repressed, uptight white guy with all sorts of issues. At the end of an hourlong massage, all I had to show for it was a killer tension headache and muscle cramps everywhere — including in my eyelids. And, I’ve been having back spasms ever since. Not exactly what I’d hoped for from a relaxing “couples massage.”
Maybe it was just first-time jitters. Maybe next time I’ll feel more comfortable and be able to relax. Or maybe, next time I’ll just take the money I was going to spend on a massage and put it toward something a bit less stressful — like a couples bungee jump, or an hour in a shark tank.
Now that would be one for the ol’ bucket list.
Answer today’s word-fun question by contacting Mark Saal at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com.