The concept of self care is everywhere these days . As an antidote to our often stressful and time poor lives, being reminded to take a moment to be kind to yourself can be much needed relief. Given that 2020 is pretty much the year of continually waking up screaming only to realise that I’ve not fallen asleep yet, I decided that I could do with some self care, preferably a nurturing activity that doesn’t involve top shelf spirits or watching reality telly. I spread my web wide and researched a raft of pursuits from establishing my own coven to trying a soothing bath, and came up with what I considered to be an entry level enterprise for my self-care journey – a massage. What could possibly go wrong?
After making my decision, I popped onto Google and found some suitable establishments, based primarily on proximity. Unfortunately, the places that I was vaguely familiar with were booked at the time I was after. So I decided to take a leap of faith and go with something more exotic sounding, you only live once right? Perhaps I should have realised that things might not be all essential oils and whale song during the initial booking phone call. “Would you like anything special” the receptionist asked me. Hmmmmm, I thought, “perhaps aromatherapy might be nice?” I was greeted by a strange silence. Then I was asked if I had anyone specific that I was interested in performing my massage; I explained that I rarely seek out human contact, let alone strangers touching me and as such I was unfamiliar with any of the employees at this facility, but a woman would be nice? Again, not much in the feedback department from the person on the other end of the phone, but the booking seemed to have been made and I was emotionally primed for some jolly nice, tranquil me-time.
I arrived at my destination, with a few minutes to spare and wandered aimlessly up and down the fairly busy road, but alas, I could find nothing that screamed beauty spa. Indeed, the number of the building seemed to be entirely missing. I walked into a local superette and asked them if they knew of a place in the area that did massage. The man behind the counter looked at me like I had just been beamed down by an alien spacecraft and was about to probe him and drag him aboard the mothership. He managed to gather himself together and told me that I wanted the back street down the alley. Although what was about to happen next should have been blindingly obvious, still nothing seemed too disarming for Kellie “Miss Marples” Stevenson-Border. I made my way around to the alleyway and saw a sign painted with the name of the business I was looking for. The building was not exactly what I had expected. I had pictured a cross between the Ponds Institute and Laboratoire Garnier. Lots of white tiles and glass walls with well dressed people in white coats clutching serums and scented mist diffusers. This place looked more like an illegal cock fighting venue (disclaimer: I have never been to, nor do I intend to visit a cockfighting establishment of any kind, illegal or otherwise. That said, if I did, I bet it would look like this). Despite some general misgivings, I entered the premises and was immediately aware I wasn’t in Kansas anymore. The man on reception looked as surprised to see me as I was him, none the less, he was the consummate professional, double checked I was indeed Kellie, and that I was here for my massage.
My masseuse came to greet me, took me to a back room and politely asked if I wanted to start with a shower. By this stage in the proceedings even I had realised that I was in a brothel. The shower was the clue equivalent of Shaggy and Scooby pulling the rubber mask off the dodgey property developer who had been scaring the reluctant house seller by dressing as a swamp monster (he totally would have gotten away with it if if it wasn’t for those pesky kids …..).This was also the moment , that I began to consider the wisdom of not letting someone know where I was. I understand that human traffickers probably don’t have a huge demand for doughy, middle aged woman with a lot of emotional problems, but all it takes is one order – and lets face it, I absolutely fill this niche market.
Like so many of my life choices, it was too late for me to change my mind, I was committed. Not only was I naked with the exception of a particularly large pair of beige grandma undies (she actually laughed when she saw them, bit rude), but also my extraordinarily small head was firmly jammed in the face hole of the massage table. Fortunately, unlike me, the masseuse was able to use her powers of deduction to piece things together – the giant undies, the blank stare at the suggestion of a shower and the abject horror of being semi naked in a back alley in front of a stranger – she quickly determined that I was really just a lost soul in search of a massage.
Ultimately, I have trapezoid muscles like a 1980s Russian shot-putter and that little masseuse had the strongest hands I have ever seen, and although she was so rough I had to take an inflammatory before I went to bed, my shoulders have never felt so loose and relaxed and I have stopped getting stress headaches. She was lovely, and it was so effective I’m booked in again next week. I guess you could say it was a happy ending after all.