Many moons ago, in an act of foolish impulsivity, I signed up for a membership at a local massage parlor. . .er. . .place-that-is-less-sketchy-than-a-parlor. It’s been a beautiful addition to my life; I recommend massage to anyone who can afford it, which I cannot (hence the reluctantly cancelled membership). I’ve even got a regular therapist, with whom I am now BFsF. Seriously. He’s gonna start coming to church with me as soon as I am no longer regularly in a state of undress around him. (Propriety, you know.)
My roommate signed up for the membership at the same time, so we often schedule them at the same time, and one day several weeks ago found ourselves standing in the lobby of a new venue, preparing to use our last pre-membership-cancellation massages. (Cue weeping and tooth-gnashing.)
“Are either of you ok with a man?” The sweet lady at the desk asked after we’d given her our names. Callie hesitated, but I shrugged. My back is essentially made up of cement masquerading as muscles, making super-strong pressure a massage necessity. . .as I debated, my pragmatism swooped in for the death blow to my modesty: Meh, they see bodies all the time, Lauren. He won’t think twice about it. Modesty limped, wounded, from the scene.
I nodded to the lady. “Sure.”
“Ok. I’ll have you with Cameron.” Cameron? CAMERON!? This was a mistake. Modesty, come back!
Cameron is the ultimate attractive male name. Unattractive men aren’t named Cameron. If you’re a Cameron who isn’t gorgeous by the time you’re a legal adult, they hold a name-changing ceremony, or something, to put you back on level with the rest of humanity. He may be immune to paying attention to his clients, but I do not see attractive male massage therapists often enough to have developed a tolerance.
Callie took one look at my petrified expression and smirked. “You’re in trouble.” (See? She also knew, from the name alone, that he would be a hottie. Camerons just are. It’s like the 11th Commandment or something.)
I decided not to worry about it–for all I knew, this particular vintage of Cameron would be well past his expiration date. I was wrong. The minute I stepped into the lobby the next day, I knew. My heart dropped to my feet. That man behind the desk had to be Cameron. 6’5”. Milk chocolate complexion complete with freckles. I’ve heard that people with symmetrical faces are more attractive, and based on that theory, I’d say Cameron could be dragged into any geometry class in the country to be upheld as the embodiment of symmetry. “On the million-somethingth day, the Lord created Cameron, and he saw that it was good.” And how. (I’m not boy crazy, but I am a lover of beautiful things, which that boy just happened to be.)
Callie laughed at me the whole way down the hall. “That’s totally Cameron,” she said, solidifying my own dread.
“We could be wrong,” I hoped. “Maybe he’ll be–”
Nope. At that moment, that beautiful creature walked into the poorly titled “Relaxation Room”, filling the space with his gorgeous self, and asked, “Ms. Lauren?”
Wiest, what have you done? I shook his hand and we started to walk down the long, long hall to my Massage of Doom. In an effort to diffuse the tension, I made a pathetic stab at conversation: “Geez, you’re tall.”
A smile split his face. “You noticed.”
Did I have another option? I cleared my throat to respond and apparently decided that a maniacal giggle would be a useful contribution to the conversation.
Lauren. Really? Get ahold of yourself, child. I managed to control my compulsive laugh reflex as we entered the massage room. Cam (may I call you Cam? So I can pretend to be worthy of your friendship, you god of beauty?!) asked about specific muscle groups that needed work, I answered in a daze, and next thing I knew, I was alone in the room to undress and vault my way into massage position.
Cameron was a good foot taller than my other therapist, and his Cameron-size massage table was well above a comfortable climbing height. I made a few half-hearted attempts to swing my leg over it, but the thing was at my breastbone. There was no way. Finally, panicking lest he walk in on me, I did an odd little run/hop/hurl combo that nearly sent me rolling off the other end. I caught myself, wriggled under the sheet and rolled onto my stomach. Success. I breathed a sigh of relief and was trying to shimmy into a comfortable position when Cam walked in.
“You ready, Ms. Lauren?” He began applying gentle pressure to my shoulders while I breathed in deeply. Relax, Lauren. Just re–
“Well, Ms. Lauren, since we have a good bit of time today, I was thinking of doing myofascial release. What do you think?”
I groped around the corners of my brain for an intelligent response. “Sure!. . .What’s that?”
“Do you eat chicken?”
My brain scrambled to grasp the relevance of the question. “. . .huh?”
“Chicken. Do you eat it, cook with it. . .?”
“I do.” I answered cautiously. Things seemed to be getting personal pretty quickly.
“Well, you know when you’re cutting up a chicken breast, and there’s that white, filmy tissue over it?”
“Uh. . .” I swallowed a gag. “Yup.”
“Well, humans have that too. It’s called ‘fascia’, and what this technique will do is break all that up and loosen it.”
“Oh. . .uh. . .” All I could think was, This incredibly attractive man just compared my body to a chicken’s. My modesty was gloating in the corner. Wretched shrew.
“It’s also really good for finding knots.”
“Do your thing, Cameron. You know way more than I do about this.”
Next thing I knew, Cameron was doing what can only be described as rolling my back fat up and down my spine.
What manner of witchcraft be this?!
There are few things that really, genuinely disturb me; this is one of them. I’d never in my life given thought to my back, or considered that it might be fat, but in my massage-induced moment of clarity I realized that my back WAS THE FATTEST EVER.
Or at least, that was probably what Cameron was thinking. I focused on breathing deeply and keeping panic-inducing thoughts like, “A ridiculously attractive man is currently conducting a back fat expedition on me” at bay.
“Found one!” Cam announced as his fingers encountered a knot in my lower back. He gave my poor, apparently pudgy back a reprieve and devoted his fingers to knot destruction. “Wow, your back is tight.” I took deep breaths and tried not to scream as he twisted his hands into my lower back. This was not as relaxing as I’d hoped.
It’s good for you, Wiest, I reasoned. Can’t you feel your character building?
“Ok, Ms. Lauren,” Cameron said several minutes later, finally finishing the demolition of my back knots and self-esteem. “You ready to roll over?”
Neck massages are traditionally my favorite part of massages, so I was pumped for Massage à la Cameron: Act Two. “Sure!”
I flipped over and settled myself.
“Ms. Lauren, your neck is super tight. . .have you ever had a therapist work your subscapularis muscle?”
“Uh. . .”
Cameron laughed. “Ok. Well, we’ll give it a shot. Here, I’m just going to lift your arm. . .”
He grasped my arm, stretching it above my head. Crap, I didn’t shave my armpits today. C’mon, Lauren, why oh why do you have to suck at life?!
And then I was dragged from the brink of existential crisis when Cameron dug his knuckle into my armpit. I’m sure there’s some special massage vernacular that would make that move seem necessary, even awesome, but in the eyes of Lauren, mere mortal, it seemed like a torture move worthy of the most evil dictator.
“You ok?” Cameron lifted my arm higher peeked at me.
My inner people-pleaser had a brief squabble with the sense of intense pain radiating up my arm and came out on top. “Yup. Just fine.”
“You sure?” Cameron applied more pressure.
The mix of sensations was startling–while my subscapularis muscle was crying out in pain, the skin over my armpit was having a ticklish chuckle, and my sense of self was having a good cry over the fact that I was flopping around the massage table like a newly-filleted fish rather than womaning up and taking the treatment like a boss.
Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. “Cameron, what are you doing?!” At least. . .that’s what I opened my mouth to say. What came out instead was a giggle, not a classy little chuckle, but the open-mouthed squeal of an amused piglet. “HAAAAAAAAA!” I bellowed, then slammed my mouth shut. Crap. I could feel all the blood rushing to my face. It was bad enough to even be capable of making such a noise. To make it while a dude dug his thumb into my naked armpit was just. . . there is no coming back from such a moment.
Cameron started visibly, nearly dropping my arm. “Uh. . .you ok?”
“Yup. I’m good.” I took a breath to reset myself while Cameron raised my arm again, reached out, and–
“Heeheeheeheeheeheehee,” I gasped, wriggling away from him. Oh for the love. Come ON, Wiest, get it together. Maybe he didn’t notice. Maybe this is normal?
But judging from the huge grin that Cameron was failing to hide, this was anything but normal. His grin said, quite clearly, “Aww, honey. I’m used to giving massages to adults, not ticklish children.”
He made a few more attempts at whatever manner of healing and wellness-bringing he was trying to enact on my armpit, but it was a lost cause; I broke into helpless laughter each time he touched my arm, and at one point came very close to rolling off the table altogether, chortling and tangled in the sheet like a jolly little burrito. The situation was past redemption. As soon as the massage was over I threw my clothes on, paid, and fled the building to skulk in Callie’s car and pray that I never saw Cameron again.
Moral of the story: I’m sure there are many takeaways, but what I left with was, “never book a massage without first asking for the therapist’s name”. My last one was a Jenn. My armpits, back fat, and self-esteem all emerged from the session intact.
PS: Cameron, if you read this, that really was one of the best massage of my life, right until the part where I started to giggle and flop around on the table like a high school mermaid.