The Larry Factor

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[A risible reflection for entertainment purposes only, intentionally confounding, read at your own risk.]

I wake up, memories flood in, the time, the day, the season, the pandemic, the spike, the roommates, and praise be to God, the smell of coffee. At least I can smell. I tenderly stretch my aching body, yawn, blow my nose, and stare out the window with the only part of my anatomy that doesn’t hurt. It’s the same view from days, years, decades ago, and I never tire of it.

The view off my room is the patio, and it is the most beloved space on the property, where memories of family and friends are so intertwined with the landscape, they’ve become inseparable.

Holding a warm cup of coffee in my hand I allow the warmth from the cup to seep into my heavily treaded veins.

I have survived yet another day.

Can I just say Larry does not enter a room, he invades the once tranquil space as if a bull in a china cabinet (not to overuse an idiom), turning on the television, pushing back the drapes, switching on lights. If he didn’t bring me coffee, I’d bar his entry.

Larry slips into the wingback chair and says, “how you feeling this morning?” I believe that was followed by an inhuman smirk.

Very juvenile in my opinion.

Cheryl pauses before answering, gathering her composure, and says, “like I’ve been beaten with a baseball bat, repeatedly.”

“I remember that all too well.”

“Thanks for the warning pal.”

“Live and learn, that’s my motto.”

“I’ll be sure to remember that little piece of advice when you want to wax something. I stand on adage “do unto others what you would have them do unto you. I believe it’s attributed to Jesus?”

Was it really only yesterday, because it feels like another lifetime, when Larry and I found ourselves all alone. I admit it was a little eerie, as if the rapture had occurred, and we were left behind.

Dante was working out of town for a few days, Julie, Nic, and the grandkids were celebrating Thanksgiving with Nic’s family, Tony and Thalita were spending the evening with Adam and Kiana, and for a few brief hours, we found ourselves empty-nesters once again.

How much trouble could two people get into with only a few hours to kill?

You had to ask.

Here’s the most reliable version of what went down, okay it’s the only available account, and it’s fallibility is not up for debate.

Larry blasts into our room around 5:00 pm, all excited and animated, he hands me a glass of wine, and says, “Put that raunchy book down, because I booked us some massages, and we’re leaving in less than an hour.”

He does this sort of thing every now and then, claiming to know my innermost desires, and trust me, more often than not he doesn’t have a clue.

I say, “What? I want to go out to dinner, not have someone massage my generous flesh, and besides, I just did my hair.” I give my head a little shake for emphasis.

“Nice, we’ll go out to eat after, you’ll be all relaxed, then we’ll come home and rest (code for anything but rest).

“Honey, I really don’t want to get naked, let some stranger slather oil all over my body, and then go out to dinner. The CDC would not approve.”

“I already paid for it. I went over and checked it all out. It’s really clean, it’s legit, and they are struggling for business. Have a heart.”

“Really, now I have to be responsible for the viability of massage parlors? It’s not enough I’m single-handedly keeping Amazon in business.”

“You mentioned you had a stiff neck, I’m just trying to be helpful.”

I have no words.

This is why Larry is in sales. He does not take no for an answer. The next thing I know I’m lying face down, naked between warm sheets, waiting for my masseur.

Let me explain my trepidation, this is a Thai massage parlor, I’ve never had a Thai massage, and oddly enough Larry was mum on the subject. While we were filling out our paperwork he mentioned he wanted the Swedish massage (I’m Swedish, I could have done that for free, just sayin) but it was a Thai place, so I thought it was rude to ask for a massage style from another country?

“I’ll have the Thai massage,” I emphasize, “thank you.”

I’m escorted to a dimly lite room, I can’t help but notice the suspicious bars attached to the ceiling, the red walls, and naturally the only thought that occurs to me is dear God, run for your life! But I was taught to be polite in all situations and running from the room screaming like a banshee could be considered ill-mannered.

I am anything but relaxed as I remove my clothes, fold them neatly on the chair, silently cursing my husband, before slipping between the sheets.

A woman enters the room, she’s soft-spoken, in fact, I could hardly understand her, did she just ask if she could walk on my back? No, I must have heard that wrong?

She adjusts the sheets, slathers me with warm oil, and for a minute I believe I’m in heaven. Her touch is gentle, starting at my shoulders, working the slick oils into my neck and scalp. I’m going to have guido hair at dinner, but I no longer care, it feels so good.

Somewhere between heaven and hell I hear a peculiar noise as if someone is climbing on the furniture? Then I feel her bare feet descend on my spacious calves, not particularly comfortable, as she inches her way up my generous thighs, digging her vindictive toes into my unsuspecting muscle (it’s both painful and disturbing), slowly, with excruciating precision, she works her way over my voluptuous ass, and onto my back. It’s as if my body has become the Pacific Coast Trail? I’m finding it hard to breathe.

She follows these shenanigans with a new trick, worse than blazing trails along my spine, I hear her knuckles crack as she gets into position, before jamming her elbow so deeply into my shoulder muscle I could feel the skin on the other side of my body protrude. I lasted thirty seconds before screaming for mercy.

I’d have given up national secrets if I had any, as it was I spewed the password to my iPhone, and code for the keyless entry to the backdoor, it was incoherent rambling, but still.

This went on for an entire hour with the added bonus of her twisting my naked soma into a pretzel and then using her body weight to extend the pose. I’m just glad there are no cameras in the room? My trembling thigh perfectly aligned with my ear couldn’t have been a pretty sight.

Emily Weiss says, “I like a semi-stressful massage – one where I can really feel something being worked out.” Well let me just say I have been pulverized, the tension has been beaten out of me, I’m a human frappe.

I hear Larry’s voice waffling up from the lobby, they must be done torturing him, his voice sounds lighthearted. Did I hear him laughing?

My masochist masseur does a final deep tissue manipulation, she says, “thank you,” and quietly leaves the room. I freeze, is she really gone, my next thought, is there a lock on the door?

Testing the probability for self-propelled motion, I try to wiggle my toes without moaning, while calculating how much assistance I will need to get out of this damn bed.

I push through the pain, rollover, and gingerly sit up without fainting. Baby steps. I manage to slide my clean clothes over my oily limbs, and attempt to assemble my hair, which only makes it worse.

Opening the door slowly, I peek up and down the empty hall, as if I’m trying to escape from Alcatraz. Ms. Light as a Feather is nowhere in sight.

I tiptoe to the lobby, where Larry is relaxing on the couch, he says all sweet and relaxed, “ready to go honey?” His eyebrows lift ever so slightly as he takes in my burlesque style hair but wisely keeps his thoughts to himself.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

Holding the door open so I can limp through, he says, “I paid your masseur her tip, so that’s all taken care of,” as if I was worried about rewarding such brutality? Did you know the latin word for tortura is to twist? Neither did I.

I remain silent. He paid someone to literally walk all over me? There has to be a message embedded in this situation but I’m in too much pain to retrieve it.

How do these things keep happening to me? There must be a common denominator. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Exactly.

We’ll call it the Larry factor.

When we get in the car I look over at Mr. Relaxed and say, “that was the most painful experience of my life, worse than four natural child births, all put together. What the hell?”

He says, “yeah, that’s why I went with the Swedish massage, I had a Thai massage once, I was sore for days, that lady wanted me to cry uncle and I refused, she destroyed me, it was a battle of wills, and I won.”

“Did you now? A covert warning would have been nice, something subtle, like wildly slashing your hand across your neck when I said, ‘I’ll have the Thai massage.’ She pummeled and contorted my entire body for the better part of an hour, honey, I might need therapy?”

“Where should we go to dinner?”

“Somewhere with an expensive wine list.”

“Split a burger at Willard Hicks?”


“The we can go home and rest.”

“Lord have mercy.”

I’m Living in the Gap, dealing with the Larry factor, and a whole new appreciation for a full house.


  • Epsom salt baths are better than any massage. Emilia Clarke
  • Costco is a passion. Costco is like a massage. Kris Jenner
  • I love to get a massage but I’m quite a baby with it. I don’t like them too hard or anyone walking on me or anything. When it’s good, it’s the best thing ever. When it’s bad, it’s an hour of absolute agony. Lara Stone
  • I do not live in my thighs or in my droopy butt. I live in joy and motion and coverups. I live in the nourishment of food and the sun and the warmth of the people who love me. Anne Lamott


Leave a Comment

  1. Very well-descrbed, Cheryl. I felt I was (almost) there with you! I have never had a massage, but if I suggested a ‘Thai Massage’ to my wife, I would still be explaining how I even knew it existed, by the time of the appointment. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you Pete, now that you mention it, I’m very curious about his intimate knowledge of Thai Massage? That should have been my first question! Where were you when I needed you? I would highly recommend the Swedish style massage, Swedes are very gentle! I’ve only had about 4 massages in my whole life but when done well it’s absolute heaven. You should give it a try, C

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Terri, I too was laughing as I tried to not only visualize, but describe exactly how I looked all bent up on that torture table. Not the look I was going for! So glad this added a little humor to your day, love, Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

  2. oh my dear friend….will you ever learn??? These are the things you ask your girlfriends about – never LARRY!! I felt every single heel in MY back!!! Now I am sore!!!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I’m an extremely slow learner Sue which works in Larry’s favor, I’ll should tattoo a note to my hand, “what would Sue do?” Good to have someone to experience my pain with, we might need a glass of wine to ease our suffering, well that and a chocolate cookie. Cheers, C

      Liked by 1 person

  3. “It’s as if my body has become the Pacific Coast Trail? I’m finding it hard to breathe.”

    Oh… you think this was hard… I had to read this without passing out! I was practically weeping with laughter. Cracker of a story with the subplot of marital bliss. I really hope you rested well. 🤣

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Daniel it gives me so much pleasure to know I put a smile on your face. Love that someone gets my humor, and of course you recognized the subplot, that slipped by most.

      On another note I so enjoyed our Gecko call yesterday, your words were just what I needed to hear! Warmly, C

      Liked by 2 people

      1. 🙏🌻

        Wonderful. When those words came out/come out, it’s like I’m not even bound to them in any kind of ownership or exerting much effort to produce them. I feel as if every Gecko there just invites them out and ordains the very space around me in a way I can’t describe, nor would I want to try. The offer that you and each Gecko makes is fruitful and life giving. I guess it’s like the knowing you describe here in what you needed to hear is something you made manifest in what I shared. I want to stay in that house forever and I find it hard to leave.

        In kindness

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Rebecca, I loved your comment and overjoyed that you get my humor. Thai massage is a out of body experience and for me it was anything but relaxing. I’m more of a glass of wine, watch the sunset sort of girl. Thanks for stopping by Living in the Gap, C

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Cheryl, Cheryl, Cheryl!
    Wow! I thoroughly enjoyed this totally funny post. As an aside however, I am becoming a little concerned. The prurient topics of the last few blogs, coupled with the masochistic massage (though I confess I know nothing of this topic,) show quite an alarming trend. None-the-less, I am impressed by your willingness to immerse yourself in the whole Thai Massage thing anyway. Maybe some wine before the torture session would have helped. Thankfully you had Larry, massage expert, to shepherd you through the whole experience. From my limited research in Cosmopolitan Magazine (I have been banned from Urban Dictionary,) Larry seemed pretty happy with the ending. According to numerous psychological studies, your biggest problem was the failure to have a “Safe Word….” whatever that is? Perhaps my concern is misplaced, as COVID-19 is such a downer that just about any kind of release is probably acceptable. Anyhow, maybe you are in need of an intervention. Perhaps a purifying trip to the Midwest, where you can revel in some good old-fashioned wholesome Missouri values. Or even better, bring the gang we can do a side trip to Nashville.
    On a more serious note, I do enjoy your writing. It is kind of a constant for us to look forward too.
    1. Was the Burger good? I checked out the Willard Hicks menu and it looked amazing. And yes, it has an expensive but nice wine list.
    2. Did you get some “rest?”
    3. Are you blown away by how Larry can just kill it with great things to do? It is a blessing to have someone in your life who can come up with amazing out of the blue experiences at the drop of the hat. Think how rich he has made your life.

    Lastly, from Larry’s perspective, as Hamlet stated…” I must be cruel only to be kind.”

    Stay safe.
    PS God willing, I get “the prick” this Friday. Which would be cool but Gail is not getting the prick this Friday. ☹

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Mike! Always a joy to hear your perspective on life. You have a unique ability to identify common themes and underlying messages! It’s a gift. I appreciate your concerns about the recent prurient subject matter, just as a trigger warning, you might want to avoid next Wednesday’s blog, it’s excessively salacious. Don’t say I didn’t warn you and avoiding the urband dictionary is highly recommended!

      Yes, I believe I was a good sport agreeing to such an obscure form of “massage” and by the way my shepard is fired.

      I believe a purifying trip to the midwest might be exactly what we need, break up the predictible COVID routines, and I’ve never been to Nashvill!

      Okay, the burger was fabulous, a half is almost to much to eat, although I was tramatized at the time, the wine list helped emensely, and “rest” was just what we needed.

      If Larry is good at one thing it’s adventure, his expanssive interests, and willingness to give new things a try keeps things interesting for sure.

      That’s awesome that your getting “the prick” because you are highly exposed at work and hopefully it will keep you safe. I’m on the list of essential workers and should be up on the second wave. Larry is a little further down the line like Gail. Bummer.

      I have one more week of classes and we’ll be celebrating Christmas up at the lake with most of my children. It’ll be a full house and I’m so excited. Wishing you and Gail a wonderful, restful, relaxing holiday, love Cheryl

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Relarable: men claiming to know our innermost desires…and more often than not, not having a clue.

    I like Larry’s effort though.

    Yours, too. Those descriptions—generous, vindictive, viability, voluptuous 😂.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Crystal, it was a memorable evening shall we say! And I do applaud Larry in his efforts to keep life interesting, he excels. Thanks for joining me here in the comments Crystal I always enjoy our exchanges. Happy holidays to you and yours, C

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Crystal, what I heard in your comment jolted me a bit. I felt defensive. Then I stopped and I felt for you in what seems to be a poor experience of men. If that’s the case I’m sorry to hear that. I know there are many men who do fail terribly in the ‘seeing innermost desires’ category of relationship and the impact that can have can be large.

      The extremely broad brushstrokes you used left me coated in a paint which I had to consider as I cleaned myself off. It had me reflecting.

      Because I am a man who loves a woman who is my wife.

      I am that man who sometimes fails but I know I also succeed, I believe, at least hope, with a higher hit rate than you ascribed to me. I do see of course, and wonder if in hindsight your comment wasn’t quite meant to include approx 50% of the population? As I explored the great work you are doing, it didn’t feel like your comment was aligned with that and in my own work in kindness research, to have remained silent in that and not offer you what I felt, would have eroded my practice.

      In kindness Crystal 🌻


      1. Hello Daniel,

        I hate to throw Cheryl under the bus because I love her and this blog. However, I was quoting her in my comment earlier. Perhaps the lines within her post didn’t stand out because you know Cheryl and her tongue-in-cheek adoration of Larry. Massages and dinner? I think that’s awesome. Larry is awesome. Cheryl just wanted some time in between to fix her hair. Maybe even shower. Like for a real date. It’s just a little thing she would’ve liked, and I can relate. I don’t think either of us intended to denigrate 50% of the population.

        My parents have been married almost sixty years, and I’ve been married for thirty-one. I love the men in my life, and I am loved, not to say we never annoy each other. Perhaps we all make assumptions.

        I appreciate your perspective, Daniel. It might be interesting to ask your wife for her opinion on this topic.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Thanks for taking the time to reply Crystal. I’m so sorry for missing that they were Cheryl’s words! I completely missed it originally and with no quotes around your comment I missed that you were quoting Cheryl. I’m very sorry for attributing that comment to you. Please forgive me. Reading the comment within the entire blog brings a little more humour to it. But only a little. The feeling, from what I originally felt, remains …

          (and before I share more on that, I would have shared the exact same feelings with Cheryl if I spotted it originally. I’ve done so before and we had a beautiful, open and understanding exchange where we could see each other more. You can see a similar thing has happened here in Cheryl’s beautiful response – thank you Cheryl. Overall, as I already shared with you Cheryl and as I shared this post with my friends, this post was a classic and please know that. I love and feel peace in how this situation has created deep discussion on this point and for you leaning into that.)

          … extracting those particular words from such a large post in such a brief comment Crystal, magnified and amplified it. It seemed to lose it’s humour at that point, transitioning to something else… a ‘let’s band together girls, those poor men, most of the time they have no clue about us do they’ kind of way. Maybe that could be funny in a certain setting. It’s a stretch for me or just one of those situations where maybe putting it another way would be more aligned with the beautiful example you and your husband, and your parents are in this world in your marriages. Well done.

          Humour can be like that can’t it.

          I guess it comes down to what humour any of us feels either nourishes or detracts from what we want to put into the world doesn’t it… and context can be everything. Maybe this would work around a dinner table surrounded by buckets of love and context. I’m not sure.

          In the end I choose to hold precious the sanctity of Danielle’s humanity in choosing not to exacerbate a theme of how hard she struggles to meet my innermost needs, just as I struggle to with hers. I choose not to, even in a humorous way, put her failings on display, grouping all women into that bucket, for the risk in that of not edifying her or you and all you do is too great to me. That is just me though. And me is all I was offering here.

          My sacred place here is best explained by the life giving words in the results found if you Google ‘sarcasm scriptures’.

          I’ve gone to lengths to explain further because I’m not sure this went how I hoped Crystal and I’m sorry. Your final line in your comment about asking my wife’s opinion on this has me wondering that the most. It felt barbed and I so I offer that if I shared anything that was hurtful for you in this, please forgive me.

          My sacred place is not a place you need to agree with or join. I only wanted to lay it out there and you are fine to have your own, which I do feel this exchange has helped me see more clearly.

          I wish you kindness, best wishes in your work, and am at peace with you. 🌻


      2. Hi Daniel,
        I had to jump in here as I see Crystal was quoting my words from the article which I wrote in response to Larry booking massages without knowing what I truly desired! Which of course was dinner out and an early night. I was trying to be funny, keep the reader humored (at the expense of men in general, I’m so sorry about that), but my comment was about Larry, not all men, and you are right, he gets it right more often than not. So after reflecting on your thoughts I can see how easy it is to put humor before kindness and that is indeed wrong, and radically untrue. I’m trying to throw my arms around Crystal because if you follow her work she’s amazing, kind, faithful, loving, and I know you would love her work and her kind heart. My bad Daniel and I love that you force me to stop and think, warmly Cheryl

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Just to be certain you didn’t miss this Cheryl. I very much appreciate your response here. I appreciate how you’ve seen what I shared and held it and responded. As I said in my response above, the whole post was legendary overall.

          I’m very sorry if my sharing here has created a furore in the comments that you’d rather avoid in your blog but something in me feels that if anything, deeper dialogue and connection is an outcome you’d prefer than people sitting silently if they really did feel something. And because of our friendship you would kind of be upset if I wanted to offer something but held back, wondering why I wouldn’t feel safe to speak up.

          In kindness 🌻

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Daniel, here’s the deal, NEVER HOLD BACK, ever. I love how deeply you feel, how you see things I overlook, especially in my rush to be funny. Your courage and brave words invite me into a place of thoughtfulness and reflection, elevating my writing in ways I could never do alone. I hope you trust in me enough to know I will always take what you offer in the most positive light knowing it is offered in friendship and kindness, always, C

          Liked by 1 person

  6. Beautiful, thank you Cheryl… what light and connection you bring thank you. It was the very trust in you that had me choosing to actually offer something to begin with yes. 🙂 .Once again so delightful to see you on our Gecko call last week 🤗 I hope your final days of prep heading to Christmas go well.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I thought I had posted this already but found it in my drafts file. Thank you for writing this Cheryl.

    I enjoyed winding through all of it. It made me reflect, for the third time that day about a natural truth: This place is about proving our character to the power that created us, simple as that. Nothing else makes sense to me for our existence here.

    We are all seemingly asked throughout this existence to “be the change” that improves situations we find ourselves in. But of course, any meaningful growth that drives true existential change takes effort. Yeah, we want happiness, but at what cost? Change is tough!

    Reading through your post I couldn’t help but be reminded of the messaging in the last Disney Cinderella movie (Live action, 2015-ish???). It was so special in its simplicity: All you need to be happy is to practice kindness and have courage. Where ‘courage’ in its cinematic context is simply a slickly repackaged 21st century Hollywood pseudonym for good old fashioned Faith.

    Cinderella’s special act of kindness (Selflessness) in this rendition of the ages-old tale is really what is missing in society, 21st or 17th century, for all of us to be truly happy. I mean, what could be more selfless than forgiving, (from the depths of one’s soul) an antagonist as wicked as her Stepmother?

    By contrast, today’s intelligent society has seemingly been duped into allowing itself to be consumed with seeking deep meaning while simultaneously justifying various forms of selfishness. Not a fruitful combination of practices that hold much hope for a ‘happily ever after’ IMHO.

    As such, something’s got to change within each of us to allow a recalculation of our situational experience of the world around us to find the good in our existence to be happy. Usually that ‘good’ needing to be found is in the doing of something selflessly for others.

    Throughout the New Testament, we learn that seeking to live selflessly gives strength, allowing us to draw upon a deep sense of purpose to be courageous in our convictions to seek fairness in all things. It is difficult to be sure, but something as prized as finding favor with the power that created us seems worth the effort. As such, striving to be as decent a human being as possible in an impossibly complicated and selfish world sounds like a worthwhile life’s pursuit to me.

    God Bless, and may this week be the best of the year for you neighbor!



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