If I could choose between getting a massage alone, or a couple’s massage with my husband, I’d pick alone. Every time. I don’t even have to think about it. Because when I’m alone, I don’t have to hear my husband grunting and moaning like someone is hurting him, but hurting him so good, thank you very much.
I mean, I’m just lying there, face down wondering, why is he even here? I should be listening to a CD of soft flutes and wind chimes. Not the sound of Sandra getting a pesky knot out of my husband’s right shoulder!
Not to mention, it takes an immense amount of mental energy to lie on a table for an hour and enjoy a stranger’s rubdown. It doesn’t matter how incredible the massage is, my mind still wants to think about how I’m out of half and half and unless I want sad coffee in the morning, I better pick some up after the massage is done. One time, I spent 45 minutes of an hour massage wondering if the poor woman ever had to massage someone with a huge pimple on their back and if she was able to artfully massage around it or just bit the bullet and glided right over it in disgust. Then I’d realize what I was doing, shake my thoughts loose and force myself to focus on how good it felt. But that would backfire, as I worried the massage would end soon, fretting about how much time I had left.
And then done. Over. An entire massage! Gone! Thinking about half and half and pimples!
Add Rob distracting me with his moaning and it’s painfully obvious I should have just saved the money and stayed home.
Rob and I had our first couple’s massage early in our relationship on Valentine’s Day. It was far too soon in our budding romance for that kind of awkward intimacy, and what’s worse is that he got an older massage therapist and I got the weird, giggly new girl. But I can’t share too much of this story just yet because I write about it in my upcoming book. Luckily, for writing purposes, that wasn’t our only regretful couple’s massage.
On our honeymoon at a Jamaican, all-inclusive Sandal’s resort, a friend booked a couple’s massage for us as a wedding gift. She’s a very close friend, and should have known better, but it was a generous gift and I was careful not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
As we left our cabana hand in hand to the spa, I was relieved that our Jamaican masseuses, while gentle and kind, also got straight to business. There’s no need to waste my time giving me tours or having me sniff various essential oils that remind me of a hippie’s prayer shrine. Just get me rubbed down before I start ruminating over an argument I had with my boss in my early twenties. The one where I should have quit right then and there!
As if on cue, Rob embarked on too many blissed out noises. Had he no shame? Where was his integrity? I spent at least 15 precious minutes trying to hold back a real bad case of the giggles. I knew if I let it loose, I’d never recover, so I fought like hell for that massage. You will feel this massage. You will enjoy this massage. IGNORE HIM AND DO NOT GET THE GIGGLES, YOU HEAR ME ANNA? GET IT TOGETHER!
I have to admit, my masseuse did a wonderful job and I was able to stay relatively focused. Far too soon, however, I sensed the typical cues it was about to end and felt sad about it. The roll up of the sheet, the little tap on the arm. Without a word, she closed our massage by gently holding my hand. I thought it was sweet and gave it a little squeeze to let her know she did a great job. You know, just a little, “Well done, you” between two new friends.
But then she kept holding my hand. Gently, kindly, but weirdly long. It’s like that hug where you give the gentle pull away cue, but the person is latched on like a koala until you eventually give up and drop your arms.
Maybe she’s waiting for the other masseuse to end Rob’s massage? I wondered. For some reason, I felt like I couldn’t open my eyes. Like there was some unspoken rule that seeing through your eyeballs during an active massage was a major violation of massage etiquette.
But she would not stop holding my hand! Each minute felt like hours passing and as the awkwardness sucked all the oxygen out of the room, I became alarmed. Was this some kind of plea for help? Was she working as a masseuse at an all-inclusive resort against her will? What kind of operation was this? No wonder they were giving away such a great discount!
I gave her hand a little squeeze to let her know I was listening. A little double squish to give her room to ask for help. But nothing! I knew I’d have to open my eyes, massage etiquette be damned! This was getting ridiculous. But then I thought, What if she’s not in danger, just weird, and I open my eyes and we immediately engage in some kind of disturbingly prolonged eye contact? It would ruin massages forever and I just couldn’t risk it.
I listened intently for cues from Rob. If I honed in real hard past the wind chimes, I could hear deep, rhythmic breathing. Was he sleeping during our couple’s massage? His nerve knew no bounds!
My arm, the one stretched, elevated, and gently clutched by another woman, began to grow sore and fatigued. This couldn’t go on. Right as I gathered my courage to open my eyes to take a stand for my rights – I heard a door open.
Finally! I thought. Someone’s here to rescue us and put an end to this torturously long hand hold!
My eyes boldly flashed open, but it jolted around an empty room. What the? Then I looked down – I wasn’t holding the masseuse’s hand, I was holding Rob’s hand. I dropped it like it was a hand grenade.
“Um, excuse me,” I said, rousing him from sleep. “This has been your hand the whole time?”
“Yeah, who did you think it was?”
“I thought my masseuse was holding my hand!”
“What?” he said, laughing. “Why did you think that?”
“Because that’s what it felt like!”
“Why didn’t you open your eyes?”
“I don’t know!” I cried. “I mean, can you even open your eyes during a massage? I think it’s against the rules.”
“Well that’s your problem,” he said, closing his eyes again like we were just gonna nap for awhile.
“What’s your excuse? Why were you letting that happen for so long? My arm is sore!”
He grunted and rolled over, as if he seriously thought we were allowed to nap.
I snapped up and got dressed. “Next time, moan less,” I said getting increasingly agitated. “You’re not the only one in the room, okay? It was my massage too.”
“She really worked a knot out,” he said dreamily.
“Well do something about those knots because you have a lot of them, you knot weirdo.” I’ll admit I was starting to go a little too far, but I was dealing with an odd feeling of betrayal as if my masseuse secretly put me into the hands of my lover when quite frankly, I didn’t want a massage with my lover in the room in the first place. And then he holds my hand for ages, while my shoulder burns?! And he naps?! THE AUDACITY.
“Sounds like you need a drink,” he said.
“I do. A stiff one. Get dressed.”
“In a minute,” my freshly new husband said. Then he appeared to drop off to sleep again, without any regard for my feelings. I opened the door, before turning to ask, “I’ll be at the pool bar. Want anything?”
“Yeah, something sweet and girly.”
Oh great. I just committed my entire life to this massage moaning, prolonged hand holding, girly drinker!
I walked through the lobby, nodding at the receptionist on the way out. I guess the massage was still pretty good. I thought to myself. And Rob isn’t perfect, but who is? I opened two big doors at once and the bright sun immediately hit my glossy, well moisturized face. I started to feel all lovey dovey for some reason. Happily, freshly married.
And, I suppose, a girly drink was starting to sound pretty good.