Long before I was a mom, wife or designer, I was a massage therapist. As an artist, I went to college, but when I couldn’t figure out what kind of degree to get—certainly not one in art, because those were for commercial graphics designers or teaching. Education was too expensive for my parents and myself if I got one for a job I never wanted to begin with. In hindsight—a business degree couldn’t have hurt, but I simply wasn’t in that place at the time. So I dropped out and went to massage therapy school. There’s a change of scenery! One of the best schools in the country at the time was on a pseudo compound out in the woods with a bunch of hippies. Meditation classes with Jesus Christ himself (truly, the teacher looked so much like Christ that I could hardly focus for the first few sessions—good catholic girl that I was, I thought for sure Jesus and hippie meditation was blasphemy. What a hoot! He was probably the first hippie.
We learned anatomy and physiology, various types of massage and hydrotherapy, yoga, even some macrobiotic cooking—I guess pretty much nothing stuck except the “new-agey” spiritual philosophy. One of my teachers legally changed her name to something that meant “wise tree.” It’s up to you to see if you can figure it out. The real words were actually pretty cool.
Massage therapists are funny people—at least the ones I worked with. They love to convey the “I’m totally at peace with where I am” persona—but good god—you’ve never seen such drama and healing! I am sure I was one of them for a good 10 years.
My first job was with my best friend, Andrea at one of our fellow student’s relative’s massage studio. Whoa! Seedy! I think I worked there for almost a year, and I would be shocked if I didn’t cry before going to work every day. Generally we would do between 3 and 5 hour and a quarter massages a shift, and most of them would try to ambiguously ask for “full release” or “total massage.” And if they had too much dignity to ask, they would casual try to hump the table in sync with long massage strokes. I was too young and insecure to lay down the law—that and I might as well quit because most of the clientele that came in were men and they knew why they wanted to be at that establishment. I am sure a few of the girls made some good tips.
Andrea left to go work at a spa, and I left shortly thereafter to join her. But before I bailed, I had one memorable experience. This big burly guy comes in needing a deep tissue massage. Whooo hoooo! I can do that! Finally a legitimate client. He was a cyclist and had gone on a long ride the day before and his thighs were really stiff. Oh…no…this could go either way. Anyway, he was an amiable enough guy, and chatty, and had gone to great lengths to educate himself on the names of the thigh muscles. As he told me all about this newly aquired bike and that he’d gone out riding without padded shorts, he became less and less questionable and more obvious—he wants me to work his groin. Then he starts explaining that it’s his gracilis muscle that is really bothering him—at the attachment (where it inserts to bone.) More like bon-er! He wanted me to work his groin. Unfortunately, this can be a legitimate muscle issue, and he sold his story with such conviction, that with the towel wedged in place, I worked the attachment with every ounce of strength I had! He squirmed plenty—but not because he received his intended erotica! But squirm as he might he just kept playing off that his muscles were a lot better, even with his repeated attempts to get me to work the attachment up a little further. Finally the massage was over! He actually was a pleasant enough guy—not creepy like some—but still a perv. Who knows…maybe he was one of those freaks that got off on pain, and I was seasoned enough to know it!
When I went to work at the spa, it was in the same area of town, so we would occasionally see some of the same clients. But this place was lovely and on the up and up. One morning after I had been there a while, I got the first “up” of the day. As I got him situated in room and explained the process, I’m finding him a little familiar. When I began working on him he says “So, I got this new bike yesterday…” Oh yeah! He was familiar, alright! So I played along and asked “How often does the avid cyclist buy a new bike?’ He responds, “Oh, this is my first one in years.” Yep, that’s what I thought… When he broke out his love of latin-rooted anatomical names like “gracilis,” I said, “I think your legs are just fine today.” Never saw him again.
Then I had the cardiac surgeon on my table that had an ego larger than his student loans and mal practice insurance combined. He was arrogant and condescending from the moment he got on the table.
Now, all my clients began face down because the back is usually the area requiring the most attention. He was no different. As I was working his legs, I felt he was subtly trying to hump the table, but again, being young and chicken, I didn’t say anything. These jackasses are so slick, that they could deny it and make me look like the fool. So I let it go…Then, when I told him to flip over while I dimmed the light so it wouldn’t shine in his eyes. When I turned around, he had the towel all the way over to one side so his dong hung out in all of its impressive, doctor-ly, glory. By that point, I was seething! I yanked the towel over him and told him that he may be a doctor while I’m only a massage therapist, but that I took my job every bit as seriously as he did his! Well…Mr. Egomaniac reverted to a 12 year-old –boy in about two seconds—in both demeanor and probably size. He apologized all over himself and laid stock still for the rest of his massage. No doubt, all of the stress returned to his muscles before the massage was finished. Never worked on him again either…
The funniest thing that happened though, was when reception took a call from an Indian client and hung up on him for being lewd. He called and asked, “Do you have any sluts available?”–in a thick accent–to which the person taking the call responded with “We aren’t that sort of place, sir!” and promptly hung up. The guy called back a second time asking the same thing and got disconnected once again. Finally he called back and pleaded for them not to hang up—he simply wanted to know if we had any appointments (slots) available. It was hilarious—we laughed over that one for a long time.
I did massage therapy for about 7 years, and I had some wonderful clients, but it just wasn’t for me—a wanted the income, but I didn’t really want the work—kinda like now!