New Massage Technique: Serenade?

This is a story from a few years back while I was working out in Hawai’i.

I had been referred to a private client by someone who I know longer remember. This client happened to be VP of a particularly prominent shoe brand. As always, I turned the music on prior to setting up so the client can decide if it was what they wanted to relax to. My choice that session was “standards.” Sweet ballads by Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra, etc. You know… classics. VP asks me how I came to listen to these old singers and I told him I had no idea. I like the music, it reminds me of days that I never lived (in this life). I told him it inspired me to sing and Ella Fitzgerald was my musical preference.
He made a proposition I have still not had matched. He offered me twice the agreed upon rate, if I would ‘serenade’ him to sleep while I gave a massage. I recall agreeing of course. My first (and only) paid singing gig?!  While massaging? Throw in some ballet and I could be on America’s Got Talent!
Like most of my clients, he was passed out within the first 10 (of 90) minutes. At some point I think I went from singing to humming and he actually awoke and said humming was not part of the contract. Ha!!! Amazing. He was asleep and woke up when I stopped singing. ((Good thing I didn’t get caught having stopped the massage – jk. I would never))

Nice guy in a great big cabin in northern west Maui. I never got a bad vibe from him and he followed through with his end of the bargain. If I could make that a new style of massage..  ahhh c’est la vie.

Spa-aaaaaaaah

I have been a massage therapist for 7+ years and have never had a proper spa day. yes, i have gone out and gotten my hair and nails done. yes, i have gone out and received a massage. or a facial, or sat in a sauna. but never all at once.

I have just finished nearly a year of teaching English to students in Surat Thani, Thailand and all I wanted was to spoil myself. But first, I needed to complete some massage courses in Chiang Mai. I discovered a pamphlet (well- many pamphlets). It offered a special promotion:

1 hour aromatherapy massage
1 hour facial (mask, cleanse, scrub, etc)
30 min body scrub
15 min jacuzzi
15 min sauna
_____________=1600 baht (USD $50ish)

I booked that for right after a cooking class (a different entry for later).

There were some technical issues concerning people not showing up on time, but otherwise, the owner picked me up from my hotel and drove me to the spa. It was in a quiet neighborhood-type of area. It was an old huge house converted into a spa. I was immediately given iced tea and slippers. I confirmed my preference and was given a sarong to change into. I was led to a small wooden box: the sauna. I didn’t make it through the entire 15 minutes (although it felt like 20) due to boredom. Then after some bananas and warm tea, I was shown outside to an enclosed patio with a HUGE jacuzzi. It was a perfect temperature and had plumerias floating in and around the water. I enjoyed this for the full 15 minutes with an ice cold glass of water at my disposal. Mind you, it had been over a year since the last time I sat in a bath. When my 15 minutes was up, I dried off and changed into a robe and went into the massage room.
The body scrub came next. I have given plenty of body scrubs before and have rubbed my own legs and feet with it, but have never gotten a full body scrub. DAMN. That shiz is rough! I realize now why the scrub is BEFORE the massage: a person gets tense when being scrubbed with mango scented salt for 30 minutes. She started with the legs and feet, continued my back and arms. She then turned me over and did my legs and arms again. Then without hesitation or warning, my upper body was exposed and she scrubbed my stomach and tatas! WHOA! I didn’t have time to react. In the US, draping is required and we normally put a towel over a lady’s chest before exposing the stomach. Magawd it was not pleasant. WORD OF ADVICE: when receiving oil massage or body scrub outside of the US – let them know in advance that you do NOT want your tatas rubbed (unless you do). 

After that awkward body scrub, I was taken to a shower and brought back to the room. She started the massage. Her pressure was way too deep Thai-style so i asked her to ease up a smidgeon. It was nice after that. But I caught her before she took the top of my blanket off this time – I said ‘no chest or stomach please ka’ and she didn’t.

I know that the next part was the facial. But I don’t remember it. I was passed the fuck out. I dreamed heavily as always. I dreamed the massage was over and I realized I had fallen asleep so I woke up in my dream and then in real life. I took off my eye covers to realize that I had the mask on and my session was NOT over. So I laid down and passed out again. Dreamed of school peers from middle school. ((Matt Heafy, lead singer of Trivium, and other school mates were gathered to ask me if I was attending their concert the next day. No offense, Matt, you have talent, but metal is not for me!)) Anywayhoo – I didn’t realize she was back in the room until a cool compress was washing away the mask. She continually tried to clean the mask from my nose and nostrils and I thought she was trying to suffocate me. . . until I drowned in a frozen lake felt the ice cold compress covering my entire face. You wanna wake a girl up???? Put an ice cold compress on her face!! Asshole. Way to tense me right back up. Goddamn. Anyway, facial was finished, I was utterly exhausted. My face felt soft without me even having the touch it. My body was floating down the stairs and into the changing area. I tipped the lady, and the owner drove me back to the hotel.

If you ever visit Chiang Mai, I recommend you treat yourself to Sinativa Spa.

Feet

Everyone’s favorite area to get massage. It’s probably the most requested area (aside from happy ending areas) to massage.
And I hate them.
Feet are dirty and often neglected.

There are so many disgusting stories about people and their feet. But I’m only going to share one that is short and sweet.

Of course, being from orlando I worked for a very popular mouse… Correction: worked on property. People from all over the world come here and walk around with their heavy backpacks and obese children and the overly clunky strollers. Naturally a massage is what they want. But few consider when booking the massage that it takes forever to get to the spa on a mouse-bus.
To boot (heeehee: boot-feet? Get it?), this couple is running late. They have been at Animal Kungdom all day and booked an hour massage plus 30min reflexology. After showing up nearly 30 min late they rush to drop their monster sized bags in the massage room rather than the locker area provided. Mr Whateverman is on the table and expressing how excited he is to get this massage. “We’ve been at Animal Kungdom since 9am. Sorry we are late. We came straight from the park”.
Me: no shit Sherlock. I can smell the rhino and bird crap on you “oh wow! Long day, huh?”
Mr Whateverman: “yea. Do you mind just working a few minutes on the back then focus on feet?”
Me: of course! (enter Disney smile)

After less than a minute of massaging his back I notice my hands are feeling dirty. His back is covered in the chunks of the mixture of dirt, sweat, and lavender massage oil. I literally had to wipe him down with washcloths. More than one. Each effleurage stroke rubbed the dirt off his nasty back onto my precious hands. (If you don’t understand then put some sunscreen on your arms or legs and go camping then rub your skin before your shower and see what peels off. )
After his darling back massage I pulled the sheets back from his feet. (I literally had to pause writing this just now because the memory of his feet is so appalling).
The bottom of his feet were black. Not just a little dirt. It looked as if he walked around Animal Kungdom’s shitpile wearing charcoal socks in shoes with freshly painted black soles.
The smell emanating from it caused me to silently gag.
I used without exaggeration 10 wet/warm washcloths just to clean his feet. Two of the cloths I had poured lavender and peppermint oils onto. The first half of the foot massage was just cleaning his feet. I think I started to actually massage them when I reached a pale pinkish gray hue.
I sat as far as I could reach from the feet.
I don’t recall the rest of the massage or if mr Whateverman liked it. But please people: do not go to Animal Kungdom in flip flops for 9 hours then go straight into a massage. Take a damn shower. Or at the very least clean your feet.

O no he didn’t!

This is quite possibly one of the most embarrassing stories from my massage history (both for me and the client):

In Spa Unrejuvinated, I was booked solid for one whole day. Yay! I grabbed the client intake form with my name on it and called to “Mr So N So.” A black gentleman stood up and shook my hand. I introduced myself and the lady next to him stands up immediately and says  “Wait! I requested you! You’re Shannon, right?” Oops, our stupid-ass owner doesn’t know what a “request” is apparently so I switch the papers out and bring back “Mrs. So N So” (aka the wife of black gentleman). Mrs. So N So wanted a 75 min deep tissue massage and so I give it to her. And she LOVES it. She just can’t stop smiling and sighing, she even slept at some point. After the massage she just RAVES about me. I’m SO happy to have given her the massage she had been looking forward to. I have NO idea who told her I was good at what I do, but she said they told her correctly! And to show her appreciation she left me a $5 tip (on a $115 treatment!). Whatever, cheap-ass, she just enjoyed my massage and that’s all I can truly ask for.

The next day I get a “request” again and this time it’s Mr. So n So. His wife was so pleased with her massage that she sent the hubby to come get a 75 min deep tissue massage. The massage commences and he doesn’t really say much. He asks a question here and there about where I’m from and the typical “should i be talking?” questions. I had concentrated the majority of massage on his back since he had requested that. I provided 20 minutes or so to the supine (stomach-up) position. I’m working on his neck and I notice his eyes are open, well that’s a little strange because most people close their eyes. I offer him an eye cover and he declines. So I (feeling more uncomfortable than normal) move on to work on his arms and legs. I’m doing deep tissue on his quads and I notice he’s starting to shake. I ask if the pressure is too much and he says no, keep going. So I do…and then he starts shaking more violently.
I look up and immediately take a step back: He has the “O” face going on.
I had not even NOTICED that he had some excitement going on (you’d think I would considering I was on his LEG!!) probably because we had double blanketed them and it’s not easy to see the shifting unless he’s huge (obviously not, in this case).
((as a side note, in this spa we had specific draping policies and I wasnt even halfway up his thigh))

I stand shocked for a minute and Mr. So n So sighs in pleasure and then begins apologizing profusely:
“It’s just you’re so beautiful and I couldn’t help it. You’re so voluptuous.” WHAT!! I had to wear baggy black shirt with white shorts – how is that even remotely attractive!?
I explained that the massage had to end early because of his ‘issue’ and that he still had to pay in full. My advice to him was to go home and show his wife a good time and not come back or request me please. I also requested that he put the sheets into the laundry bin himself.

And in the faithful pattern following his wife’s, he left me $5 for that crap. Thank you Mr So n So.

Reno911!

One of my favorite shows is Reno911! One of my favorite movies is Reno911: Miami! This story has nothing to do with the show.

The first spa I worked in was not ideal, but as we all experience (well, most of us do), it takes time to get to the top. Not only was Spa Unrejuvinated my first spa but it was in Hawai’i back in 2007 or 2008.

I had been hired quite hastily and should have taken it for a sign but I was just excited to actually have work. I was to be hired as an ‘on call’ therapist, only coming in when there was an appointment and no therapist.

The owner of Spa Unrejuvinated (who was a not so nice lady and I, of course not having been hired by her, wouldn’t know this until later) calls me in for an hour long swedish massage. Yay! A client! I had been at the beach but lived near by so I quickly ran home and changed. I wore a black tshirt and black and white checked shorts with slippers (flip flops for those not into the Hawaiian lingo).

Side note: For those unfamiliar with the practices of massage, a therapist is supposed to meet the client and have them fill out their intake form. This form has current conditions, injuries, etc etc. It also gives the therapist an opportunity to get to know the client before going in for the hour long rub down.

(Continued story) I walk into Spa Unrejuvinated and there is the red headed, wild haired ((think Trelawney with red hair)) owner who I had not had the pleasure of meeting. She is dressed in a mou-mou and leaving a massage room with a large blanket. I quickly introduced myself and she informed me I was already late so the client was already on the table. Now, on a personal note, I don’t like to have clients on the table before I meet them because I like to adjust the height of the table according to the client’s size. She tells me the client is expecting an hour massage and “cannot be face down because he has very bad asthma.” Okay…… and? “And he was too warm in the blankets and flat sheet so I gave him a bath towel to use instead.”
RED FLAG #1 A client does not want to be draped.

So I nod and smile and head into the room. Lying on the table is a giant man with a stomach so big that the towel covering him is barely grazing the massage table itself. I confirm his condition and begin the massage. I start massaging what some would call a neck (and others would call the area between his head and shoulders). I do this in the beginning when I’m trying to think of my strategy for a longer massage with limited areas to work on. He requests that I work on his legs almost immediately. Since he was being draped by a mere bath towel, I didn’t bother moving the towel up  any since it barely covered half his thigh. I worked on his feet and shins and moved on to the quadriceps. He made a feeble attempt to move his legs a little further apart, but considering his size compared to that of the table, he didn’t get far. I asked if he was uncomfortable and he responded by asking me to work higher up on his leg. So I do. “A little higher, miss”.
RED FLAG #2 Can you work on my upper thigh?

I worked a little higher but it was not high enough apparently. He persisted and I refused. I informed him that there was a limit on how high up one’s leg I will massage. He stayed quiet for a while and I continued the same pattern onto his other leg. In the way patterns work, he kept up his pattern on the other leg as well. I again politely informed him that I do not work on upper thighs. He tried to tell me that he rides bicycles and needed that work done. I refused and he asked me to work on his stomach.
(Insert throw-up face here)
His STOMACH??? That giant pile of hardened lard could have made Santa look anorexic! The abdominal region is a touchy area for many people. As a newer therapist, there are only a few different ways to massage a stomach. For me, I only knew one. I rubbed his belly clockwise, to encourage digestion I suppose (but it was too late for this guy). The table was a bit higher than I liked it to be, so his stomach was about where my ribs are (mind you, I’m 5’2″).
As I’m trying to put my mind into a happy place in this slightly uncomfortable situation, I begin to notice his hands are fidgety. Apparently he was trying to push his towel down a little further and a little further more. I asked him to refrain from moving the towel (or removing it!) and he informed me I was missing his “lower abs” and to “please, concentrate a little HARDER on those.”
RED FLAG #3 Pushing draping down and asking for “low low stomach” massage.

I was starting to get a little heated and asked him what his intentions were? And there… out of the towel below the mountain-belly comes a little $100 bill. Of course its crumpled up.
Ew. This is not happening. I close my eyes and open and its still real. Okay, now I’m fed up. I inform the man that this spa was not a whore house and that I did not go through years (actually only 6 months) of massage school to be offered $100 to do “Extra” services.

“Well I’m from Reno. And in Reno, we can get a lot for a hundred bucks!”
“Well, SIR, this ain’t Reno!” I told him that if he wanted that crap he’d have to look in the back of the Weekly for those kinds of massages.

What a lousy first day at this spa! I didn’t want to make a bad impression though so I took a moment and calmed down. I informed the man that he had two options. I was going to leave the room and either he gets dressed and leaves after paying in full (that should have been the only option) or he can stay on the table and when I come back in, dont say another word.
I stepped out and grabbed a quick sip of water all while my new bosslady is asking me why I left the room. I told her what happened and she said ‘well theres only a few minutes left of the massage so go finish it.” in-con-thievable!
I stepped back in the room and he apologized. I informed him the deal was he could finish the massage if he shut up right? I put a towel over his eyes and worked on his neck again. With only 2 minutes left in the massage, he propositioned me again and I dropped his head on the table and left. I went to the back room shaking with anger. After he left the witch  bosslady came back and said “He must have really liked your massage because he left you a twenty-five dollar tip!!” I looked at her like she was crazy and told her about what happened. She shook her flaming hair and said what a shame.
I returned to the room and removed the sheets (using gloves) and found that crumpled up $100. I put it in a plastic bag (using gloves) and sprayed it down with Lysol. I took it to the bank and deposited it, warning the teller to use gloves when handling the money.

*PS I stayed with that company for almost a year. More stories to come on that*

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