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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.

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. I used to get massages from a tiny Irish woman who probably weighed 85 pounds and had fingers made of actual steel.

    November 25, 2012
  2. Esther #

    Agree 100%! Nothing worse than powder-puff pressure, long fingernails and chatter! I will admit to being rolfed once (google it), and every orifice on my face started to drip. Talk about a pro, the therapist heard me sniffling, thunked a wastebasket under my face and continued rolfing. Heaven…

    November 25, 2012
  3. OMG totally reminds me of my first deep tissue massage. That thing had me in tears more than once, but the real pain came the day after, when I could barely move. I mean I seriously could barely move. I couldn’t lift my arms, I could barely walk, breathing even seemed to hurt…but in a way, it felt so good. LOL. Haven’t been brave enough to go for another one yet, but it’s on my to do list!

    November 20, 2012
    • it’s addictive, right? that next day soreness. when i don’t get it i feel robbed, which is probably not the right way to look at the entire experience

      November 21, 2012
  4. Burly fe/male masseuse are the only way to go!

    November 20, 2012
  5. Jealousy has set in. I’m in need. Great post!

    November 20, 2012
  6. Arrrrghhh. My very spirited deep tissue probing massage therapist up and moved off (for romance of all things! ingrate!) over 2 years ago and I’ve yet to find another person or place to try where I can be assured I’ll leave more relaxed than when I entered. So reading about your wonderful discovery both gives me hope and reminds me of HOW. MUCH. I. MISS. MY. MASSAGES. (sniffle…)

    November 20, 2012
    • i used to think of massages as spa treatments and now i increasingly think of them as sports medicine

      November 20, 2012
  7. Suzanne Mossburg Rogers #

    Love when the “other ” aunt Suzanne/Suzie posts your blog. You are hilarious!

    November 19, 2012
  8. You are hilarious. My cousin unnie (who also have 3 halfer boys) introduced me to your blog. I’ve never come across a blog that regularly has me actually laughing. Thank you.

    November 19, 2012
    • you had me at three boys. let me take a moment to offer my sincere respect to unnie. thanks for the note. hope i keep you laughing

      November 19, 2012
      • Haha. I sent her your response. 🙂

        November 25, 2012
  9. I went for a “couples” massages once. The girl I had as my practitioner seemed like she had just finished taking an online massage course. I kept asking her to push harder but nothing changed. I got off the table, overly dripping in cheap oil, feeling stiffer than when I had started because I was so tense waiting for that sensation of pain and relief.

    November 19, 2012
    • sounds like the couples massage we got on our honeymoon. of course
      tom dug it

      November 19, 2012
  10. I know the feeling. I had my first deep tissue massage a week ago and for a couple of days I felt like I had been hit by a bus, but it was a very satisfying pain. I want more!

    November 19, 2012
  11. Min #

    Hilarious. Poor Tom, haha. I need a good massage soon. But I also need a Korean all-out body scrub. I feel I can’t handle both in the same month.

    November 19, 2012
    • MIN. you know I love me a scrubbing/flaying at a Korean spa. is there anything better than seeing all your dead skin on the floor? no there is not. i hate that portland does not have one

      November 19, 2012

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