Pardon the title. It’s an old Monty Python one-liner.
I used to be a massage therapist. Not because it fascinated me, but because, 1) We needed the money, and 2) an acquaintance offered to teach me. So, why not?
If I knew then what I know now, namely, how physically demanding it is, I would have stolen a spork from KFC and removed my own kidney to sell on the black market.
When I first became a massage therapist, I worked for the Radisson Hotel on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Georgia does not require that massage therapists be licensed, so I went into the massage arena a bit green. I knew what to do, I had just never taken the test where you have to write down all the Latin names for the millions of bones, muscles, protrusions, dips, notches, and joints that make up the human body. I could draw the human body in detail, I just couldn’t tell you in Latin what part I was sketching. At least not then. I learned later. Then promptly forgot because it is totally useless knowledge.
But no matter. Georgia did not require me to know. I was allowed to squeeze strangers without being arrested for assault. Not that I wanted to, but the money was good.
My first client? A doctor.
A doctor that had had too much to drink the night before and was suffering from a hangover. He laid face down on the table and told me that his Terpis Humongous muscle ached. There is no such muscle. Either I had heard wrongly, or it was another muscle my tutor hadn’t told me about yet. (I found out later I had misheard.) So I gave the doctor a deep massage, starting with his back, and put him out like a light. Then, once I heard snoring, I massaged the stuffing out of every bit of him I was allowed to touch by law.
I must have gotten to his Terpis Humongous at some point because he gave me a $2o tip. (Which almost paid for my lunch at the Radisson.)
My next client was a woman recovering from back surgery. The doctors had replaced part of her spine with two of her ribs, and it was up to me to make her feel better without paralyzing her. I must have pulled it off, because, 1) she wouldn’t accept another masseuse, not even my tutor, and, 2) she was still walking the last time I saw her.
After that, all the clients are pretty much a blur. The only thing I DO remember with any clarity was how hot it was. You know that old song, “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”? Well, I know what he was doing there. Breaking wind. Jekyll Island is as hot as fire and smells revolting. Think of burning chemicals that no one can extinguish. And it was way too hot to do strenuous work in an airless room. I’m not sure, but I think I dripped a steady stream of sweat on the British tennis player. I can’t be certain because I blinded myself with my own perspiration.
Since I have moved to Arkansas, I have only done a few massages on friends. Free stuff since Arkansas requires a person to be licensed. I thought about getting a license to do massage in Arkansas, then found out what it was going to cost me. It wasn’t worth it. Besides, my wrists were beginning to give me trouble. They were either stress injuries from massaging weight lifters, or old injuries coming back to haunt me. Old injuries from the time my husband and I were wrestling and he flipped me. We were 22 at the time, so it’s not as stupid as it sounds. It was great fun, then. If he flipped me now, we would both herniate and die.
Do you have any of your own massage-wrestling nightmares? You could even tell us about the time you went to Georgia and smelled a paper mill.
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