Wednesday, August 22, 2018

That time I got my first whole-body Leah St. James

A few years back my bossan incredibly smart, caring and generous womangave me a gift certificate for a massage therapy center. Although the not-too-subtle hint that I needed to de-stress was appreciated, I had never had a massage (other than a hand massage while on a cruise two decades ago, and a chair massage one decade ago), so I tucked the gift into my stash of gift cards to be used someday when I got up the nerve.

The following year she gave me another...and the next year another.

Sensing a trend there, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try it out, but I didn’t want to go alone for this first-time experience.

My original plan – to go with my oldest/best friend following my son’s wedding last year – was foiled when I threw my back out while resting on a chaise lounge on the beach after the wedding. (Yes, I apparently stress myself out even while relaxing at the beach.)

Several months passed, and when work became even crazier and fast-paced than usual, I knew I needed help and decided a relaxing massage might be just the ticket. So I asked my daughter-in-law (a middle school teacher who could use some de-stressing herself) if she’d want to join me. She thought it was a great idea, and we decided to go while she was off for summer vacation. She kindly did the research and made a reservation for us.

By the time the big day rolled around last week, I was sooooo ready to put myself into the hands of an expert at relieving others’ tension. I took the day off work, and as I kissed TPM (hubby) goodbye, he said, “Enjoy yourself with Louie of the magic hands!”

“Ha-ha-ha,” I answered with a snort, “Try Louise.” Then I got in the car for the 90-mile drive to meet up with my DIL. We went for a yummy lunch, strolled around a craft store for a few minutes, then headed for our appointment with the massage therapists.

“Oh, by the way,” she said as we crossed the parking lot and headed toward the front door of the place, “they only have male therapists today. I meant to tell you but I kept forgetting. I hope that’s okay.”

I give myself a lot of credit for not stopping and running in the other direction. In fact, I kept walking, although a few of my steps might have stuttered.

“Oh?” I said, as calmly as I could. “Well, hahahaha, I guess we’ll find out!” (That second part did come out on the manic side.)

We went into the place, checked in and filled in a form that dictated where we did and did not give the therapist permission to touch.  (For me, nothing in the torso area....NOTHING.) Then we got the run-down of how things would go: You get five minutes to disrobe, the therapist comes in, works on you for 50 minutes (so long??!!), then you have five minutes to get dressed again.

“Ready?” the young woman asked?

“Yes!” we said enthusiastically while inside I was screaming, HELP MEEEEEEEE. SOMEBODY GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

Now, I'm no prude. In fact, anyone who has read my stories know they can be steamy, but it’s not like I’m living the lives of my heroines! While Leah the author craft heroines completely at ease with their bodies, Leah the person is pretty modest when it comes to clothing and showing skin. I don’t cover myself like a nun, but Saturday Night Live's Church Lady might be close. Aside from that, I’ve been married to the same man for almost 40 ears. I wasn’t even 20 when we started dating and never looked back. So the idea of having a STRANGE MAN’S hands touching my skin, all say I was nervous is like calling a stroke a spike in blood pressure.

I got into the room, undressed in about ten seconds, threw myself onto the bed—under the sheet and cloyingly hot blanket—then immediately started sweating. As soon as the STRANGE MAN came in, I said, “Can I get rid of the blanket? I’m dying of heat!”

I knew I risked exposing more of my silhouette, but I figured it was better than sweating like a pig. And the sheet was opaque! And I was still wearing my undies!

The blanket came off and he turned the lights waaaay down and got started.

Let me say right off that the  therapist was a complete professional and gentleman – and super gentle with his hands. He did nothing to cause me any discomfort. I was creating enough discomfort in my head for us both! He started with my scalp (which was lovely), then worked his way to my neck and shoulders, my tension/stress collectors. He even did some stretching, and it felt glorious.

Then he moved around to my side and fumbled with something at his waist. I heard a metallic a man’s belt! My eyes flew open and I started yelling What-the-expletive!!! in my head...until I realized it was a lotion dispenser attached at his waist.

“You okay?” he asked.

“I’m great!!” I said, channeling Tony the  Tiger.

I calmed down while he slathered some calming goop all over my shoulders and arms (me trying not to think of the under-arm flab he was encountering).  Then he carefully covered me to my neck with the sheet, moved down the table and pulled the sheet away from my right leg.

My eyes flew open again. I don’t know why I hadn’t considered my legs would be part of this deal, but I hadn’t!  Here I am, 90 percent unclothed with nothing but a sheet separating me from this STRANGE MAN and he’s massaging me from my toes to my thighs. AND I HADN’T THOUGHT TO SHAVE MY LEGS IN ADVANCE!

I tried to comfort myself with the fact that I hardly have leg hair anymore (Is this TMI??? Sorry, I can’t stop myself), but there are still bumps and lumps and other evidence of several decades of life and ... let’s just say I wasn't blessed with Tina Turner’s legs (or talent).

Did I mention during this entire time I could hear my DIL chatting away and laughing with her therapist? (In my room, aside from the few minutes after I asked him to share how he got into the line of work, and the new-agey background music, dead silence reigned. I tried telepathically communicating with DIL to learn her secret but got nothing from her. Drat.)

Finally, after every inch of my body (aside from the torso) had been stroked, kneaded and gooped, my therapist stopped and told me our time together had come to an end.

I thanked him profusely, dressed and  ran to the rest room to see if my hair had turned white in those 50 minutes. When I met my DIL in the lobby, she said she’d had an “amazing” time and asked how I did.

I thought for a moment and answered (truthfully) that it had been a really good experience. Self-inflicted neurosis aside, I had spent the past hour with someone focused solely on making me feel better, my muscles were definitely looser, and the tension in my shoulders had dissipated.

Am I still obsessing about the bumps and lumps he’d seen and touched? YES.

Am I telling myself he’s like a doctor, seen it all, so I shouldn’t be embarrassed? YES, but it’s not working.

Will I go back for another? Probably, but if I do, I’ll make sure a woman is available.

Does that make me old-fashioned? A fuddy-duddy?
Maybe, but I yam what I yam.

I’d love to hear your stories or experiences with male or female massage therapists! Am I alone in my neurosis?


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. When she calms down, this experience will be filed away in her “what-if” file for a future story. Learn more about her writing at, or visit her on Facebook where she occasionally shares pictures and videos of her son’s two-year-old (male) cat.


Margo Hoornstra said...

Oh, Leah, you had me laughing out loud. (And at my desk, no less ;-) I had a massage a few years ago, probably ten or so years ago, I think. From my husband for my birthday and it was pretty marvelous. (I'm like you, Twin Leah, carry all the stress in my upper back, shoulders and neck.) Though I did make sure I got a woman. Not sure I'd have the courage you did to follow through with the STRANGE MAN. Kudos to you! Not a fuddy-duddy at all. IMHO.

Jannine Gallant said...

I don't know, men have stronger hands, and it would be fodder for a future book. I would probably have relaxed and enjoyed, despite the exposed lumps and bumps! No, I've never had a massage, but I'm thinking it would be pretty cool. Next time just enjoy it!

Leah St. James said...

Margo, if I hadn't been 90 miles from home(and the reservation on my DIL's credit card), I might have run and rescheduled! He probably went home and told his wife about the uptight client! :-)

Leah St. James said...

Definitely book fodder, Jannine. And you're right that added muscular strength can be a plus, like when they're doing the stretching thing. (That did feel really good.) It is a cool process and experience. You should book one for yourself!

remullins said...

I generally fall asleep during a massage. Later, I always wonder if they just stopped at that point and said I got the entire 50 min. massage. I've had both men and women but it was a woman (I mentally called her, Helga) that had hands that could crack marbles. I don't know what she did but I started coughing until we both thought I was going to puke.

Vonnie Davis said...

I had a massage years ago by a woman who must have been a wrestler or a Nazi in a former life. She was quite rough with me and talked down to me because of my weight. I cried. I'd sooner have a man, I think. They keep their opinions to themselves until they're with other guys. Since none of them would know me, I wouldn't care what was said. I'm glad you went through with it. … And, how did your hubby respond when you told him it was a "Louie" after all? Calvin would have been so jealous. LOL

Leah St. James said...

Good grief, Robin, I'm starting to count my blessings! I think eventually I could get to the point of sleep, but that first time (with the unexpected STRANGE MAN) required a bull-blown attack of neurosis! I'll take this as a sign that things will be better next time. :-)

Leah St. James said...

Vonnie, maybe you had Robin's "Helga"! :-) TPM (hubby) was terribly jealous to the point where our son (sitting with us in the living room) told him to "Stop talking, for the love of God!" :-) I wonder if TPM has read this blog yet....

Alison Henderson said...

I had to laugh, because this was my exact reaction to my one and only massage. While on vacation a few years ago, my daughter persuaded me to go to the hotel spa with her. I wasn't looking forward to it because I hate strangers touching me, period. The masseuse was female but she was STRONG! I thought she was going to break every bone in my hands. There was nothing relaxing about the whole ordeal AND I had to pay for it! LOL. Won't be doing that again.

Diane Garner said...

OMG, Leah, what a funny story! Seriously, I think I would NOT have handled it as coolly as you did. I have a friend who swears by massages, but I've never had one, and don't think I could deal with a STRANGE MAN or WOMAN. Maybe when I was younger. My DH does a fab massage, so I think I'll just keep him around. On a cruise, I once had a seaweed wrap to reduce cellulite. There were electrodes involved and it started to really hurt. I spent 30 minutes yelling for help, but no one came. Since I wore only panties and seaweed, I resisted the urge to open the door, run down the hall dragging the electrifying equipment, and strangle someone. Will not repeat that experience. But Whoo hoo to you for finishing and willingness to try again!

Leah St. James said...

Alison, you're the third (?) person to talk about women with bone-crunching hands! Maybe I should just stick with Louie! :-) At least mine was a freebie!

Leah St. James said...

Diane - This has to be one of those experiences that you laugh about only after you get home and recover...long, long afterward! But I have to confess you gave me a good laugh! I'm glad you did survive. And definitely hang on to that hubby. :-)

Rolynn Anderson said...

I've had two, one with a male and one with a female. In Mexico both times. I do not crave another one, but I LOVED hearing about all of your adventures. There's 'no touch' in vicarious...and the laughs are free as well. Thanks for the stories, friends!

Leah St. James said...

Glad you enjoyed the stories, Rolynn!

Diane Burton said...

Like the others, I think you need to use this in a story. LOL I had my first massage on a cruise 10 years ago. Daughter was with me. She had a woman, I had the guy. To say I was uncomfortable is putting it mildly. The worst part was when he massaged my scalp. I hated it. I love someone shampooing my hair and massaging my scalp, so I have no idea what he did. I was so woozy afterward. I didn't realize you should drink LOTS of water after a massage. I had another one a couple of years ago (a woman this time) and it was okay. Not really relaxing. I won't go again. Daughter goes often. So does my DIL. They really enjoy a massage. BTW, I don't think you're a fuddy-duddy.

Brenda Whiteside said...

I've had one massage in my life and I loved it! If I could afford it, I'd have one at least monthly. It was a woman, but I really don't care one way or the other. Men or women? For doctors, I prefer women. They know what it's like to be a woman. My mom on the other hand says she doesn't want another woman touching her! So, the take on that can go either way. For a massage, eh, just so they know what they're doing. I think you should cut yourself a break on your body. Go with the flow. If you relax more, the massage will be so much better. And thanks for the fun post!

Leah St. James said...

Wow, Diane, the scalp part does sound weird! And thank you for supporting my un-fuddy-duddy-ness. :-)

Leah St. James said...

Interesting perception on male vs. female doctors/caregivers, Brenda! I think part of my problem was that it came as a surprise. I had somehow just assumed we'd have women. (And you know what they say about assuming!) Yes, I'm getting a lot of people telling me I need to relax to enjoy it!

Mackenzie Crowne said...

OMG Leah, I am truly LOL. In my case, it was my sister who sold me into the nightmare, but you just perfectly described my one and only experience with massage. ;-)