hurts so good
Nothing disappoints like a gentle massage. You know, the kind you get at a fancy spa, from a delicate woman who is way smaller than you. The kind that starts with a choice of scented oils and ends with you snoring and drooling on the massage table. Or the kind that ends with you snoring and then being woken up by the sound of your own fart.
You’d never sleep through my ideal massage. I like my massage therapists like I like my movie hunks: beefy. And that’s because my muscles—they be tight. I used to think the tightness meant the muscles were strong, until I realized it just means that they are completely f-ed up. A month ago Linds bought me a massage at the Allison, the kind of place that specializes in expensive, ineffective massages. My expectations were low. I expected to enjoy a snoozy hour on the massage table planning what I would order at dinner. But when my therapist came to retrieve me from the lounge, I perked right up.
I’d ordered a man, natch. Jason wasn’t tall, but he was built like a truck, with meaty arms. I deflated a bit when he ushered me into the massage room and offered me a choice of six fragrant oils, all of which smelled exactly the same. I picked lavender because I can’t pronounce bergamot and couldn’t remember the other choices after he said them. But then the massage started, and as soon as he dribbled warm oil on my back and jammed his hairy forearm into my muscles, I knew I was in good hands.
I don’t know how to describe Jason’s massage style other than to say that he’d pick a muscle, and then jab at it with his fingers until something gave, and then the one muscle would relax and spread apart into two muscles, or three muscles. “Your muscles are all stuck together,” he said, right after he asked what I did for a living, in a tone of voice that suggested that he expected me to answer “manual laborer.” He moved onto my shoulder, where he pushed on something that made it feel like ice cold water was shooting through the veins in my arm. Sweet mother it felt good. After we were done, he gave it to me straight. “Your muscles are messed up. You need to go see the guy who taught me, in Portland.”
Which I did, this last Wednesday. Brandon Saggio, LMT. Call him immediately. His website scared me a little because he has long hair, but I’ve come to accept that long-haired men are as ubiquitous in the massage world as those trickling indoor water fountains that remind you of nothing so much as someone urinating. When I met Brandon in person, I was reassured. Brandon is a happy, calm soul who can do things to your muscles that you wouldn’t believe. At one point, he laid me face down and then pulled my arm backwards into a 90 degree angle from my body. I may have felt the tears well a bit. But I was distracted from the discomfort by the nagging sensation that I knew this move. I’d USED this move. When? YES. Two months ago, when I cut up a whole chicken. I had lifted the chicken wing just so, before whacking it clean off the body.
When Brandon was done with me, I hurried into my clothes, because I was late for a dinner with the girls. “Yoona, no alcohol! Your body is detoxing.” I frowned. “Well you can drink one glass of wine, but you need to drink a lot of water.” Ugh. What is with everyone’s obsession with water? But I did as I was told, because after only one visit, I had fallen under Brandon’s spell.
I’m eager to try Brandon’s moves at home on Tom. Tom generally cannot handle my advanced style of massage. He thinks he can handle it, but he can’t. Every few months he pulls a muscle while working the remote and asks for a massage. I flop him face down on our bed, sit on his back, and give him a treatment that I like to call “all thumbs.” It really gets all the pressure points. He says I don’t know where the pressure points are, because I didn’t go to massage school. Details! When I work out a particularly tough knot, I have to push his face into the duvet cover, because the screams can break my concentration. It all just seems really ungrateful, given that I’m really busy, and that the massage is free.
Anyway, borderline-painful massage. It’s the stuff.