A few months ago, Groupon had a great deal on massages – FIVE for only $75! The only catch was that they were at a massage school. But being the ever-adventurous, bargain seeking gal that I am, I figured that surely any student would be adequately trained on fellow students and perhaps mannequins before they were let loose on a paying client. I made my purchase and called to set my first appointment. When I arrived at the “center for the healing arts” I was surprised to find it was a small cinderblock building in a somewhat questionable part of town. When I entered, there was just one person inside instead of the scores of students I expected – was she the teacher? A student? I didn’t know, but she seemed friendly and quickly led me to a room – and the massage was…almost adequate. But now that I’ve used up three of the five massages at this place, I thought I’d share a few tips, set to a handy musical soundtrack, to help the beginning masseuse avoid some basic mistakes and be the best masseuse they can be!
“Knock Three Times” – Tony Orlando & Dawn:
After you have asked a client to disrobe and have left the room, please make sure you knock before entering again. It’s just common courtesy! I know you think you’ve allowed ample time for me to divest myself of all garments and cover myself adequately under the sheet on the massage table – but what if I had a wardrobe malfunction and was struggling to unhook a particularly stubborn bra? Awkward! Even when I am on the massage table, when you enter the room again, as silent as a ghost drifting through a wall, and then touch my back without warning – it scares the shit out of me! Not an auspicious start to a relaxing session.
“Baby Its Cold Outside” – Dean Martin:
If the massage room is chilly – warm it up! You are asking me to get naked and that’s difficult to do when I’m so cold that my nipples could cut glass! If you don’t have central heat, then a space heater will do – anything to keep my hands and fingers pliable enough to actually undo buttons and zippers. When I finally shiver my way out of my last piece of clothing and make a mad dash for the coziness of the massage table – it’s a huge disappointment to find that it apparently was just relocated from a walk-in freezer minutes before my arrival. If your massage table doesn’t come with a built in warmer, invest a few bucks to get an electric throw to put under the sheets. Preventing frostbite is just good customer service!
“Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
I appreciate natural light – but perhaps a huge picture window, covered only by a thin bedsheet is not the best idea for spa-like tranquility. If I have to squint my eyes to block out the glare and I can see THROUGH the sheet to the sidewalk just outside the window – it may be time to invest in blinds or a heavy-duty curtain – or both. Also, the nearly inch gap on each side of the sheet, allowing any pedestrian outside to stop and take a gander at my bare bits, makes me feel a bit like one of those prostitutes in the windows of the red light district in Amsterdam.
“Cold As Ice” – Foreigner
We’ve already established that your building is like mid-winter on the frozen Arctic tundra, but you might not realize that spending a whole day in those sub-zero temperatures effects you, as well. When you place your hands on my bare skin it’s as if you are the Snow Queen, kneading my back with chunks of dry ice. I can practically hear the crackling as my skin frosts over! I immediately tense up in an effort not to gasp aloud, causing you to say things like, “Its good you came in today, your back is super tight!” If controlling the building’s temperature is not within your control, perhaps you can wash your hands in hot water – five or six times – in an attempt to mitigate the chill factor.
“Don’t Speak” – No Doubt
I think I can speak for most people who seek a massage – we aren’t looking conversation. I don’t mind the occasional, “Doing OK?” or “Is this too much pressure?” but otherwise – shut the hell up. I don’t want to hear about your day, answer questions about my profession, or discuss the weather. Even worse, I don’t want to hear strange vocalizations coming from you. When you are massaging my upper thighs, please don’t make those creepy little moaning sounds – it makes me wonder if you are enjoying your work just a little bit too much. On a related topic – when you massage my back, shoulders, and arms, your belly is right next to my ear. When your stomach growls continuously throughout the massage (or when you burp from time to time), I can’t help focusing on that instead of my zen. Eat before your stomach starts demanding food, but eat smart, so your stomach isn’t complaining for the next two hours.
“Please, Don’t Go” – KC and the Sunshine Band
It’s common knowledge that, from time to time, masseuses have to take their hands off the client – to get more massage oil, hot stones, or hold the sheet up so the they can turn over – but when you suddenly disengage and don’t come back for nearly a minute, I start wondering what happened. Were you distracted by someone peering through your inadequately covered window? Did your digestive issues move down a level so that you had to move to the other side of the room to fart (thank you for that, by the way)? Did you leave the room as silently as you entered? You see, when you do this, it leaves me in a quandary. Do I lift my head from the face cradle or (if I’m on my back) open my eyes to look around to see what you are doing? What if you are standing right there – just looking at me?? That would be awkward for everyone involved.
“Footloose” – Kenny Loggins
I have to tell you, I love a good foot massage. A little reflexology is good for the soul (and apparently for lots of organs in your body). I don’t mind that you sit down on your stool to work on my feet – but it’s strange when you just stop massaging them and merely hold them…for over two minutes! Again, I’m left to wonder what happened to you. Did you nod off? Did you….die??? But no, I can still hear your little moans and sighs. Do you just…really like feet? I finally have to resort to wiggling my toes to see if that will jog you into action – and eventually it does. However, by that time, any relaxation that I was feeling has been replaced by my racing mind – was it reiki? Were you trying to heal my feet with reiki??? Did my feet need healing? What the hell is reiki anyway? You see how my mind goes? Let’s just avoid that altogether by having you just stick to the massage.
There you have it – sensible tips for the beginning masseuse set to music. Oh, one final tip – don’t use this soundtrack during a massage – it’s not at all relaxing or zen. Stick to the generic soothing instrumentals with the occasional sound of water or waves – that should work for everyone, except the client who forgot to pee prior to the massage.
What things have happened to you during a massage that should probably have never happened? Are there any songs that you can think of that I’m missing for my handy masseuse soundtrack?