[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?
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