Fun fact: Comedian Bob Hope had a massage every day for most of his life. Is it any wonder he lived to be a hundred?
One of my daughters doesn’t see the point of having a massage. Someday, I suspect, she’ll become a fan like the rest of us. We’ll see.
I used to get full-body, hour-long massages every so often, sometimes once a month. You know, the kind that takes place in a softly lit pastel room smelling of lavender. The therapist waits outside while you take everything off except your panties. Then you climb under a freshly-laundered sheet and wait for her to ask if you’re ready.
Quietly closing the door behind her, she asks how you’ve been. Then she starts the music—Native American flute or dreamy guitar or Enya. She pours expensive oil into her palms and slides them over your skin.
You tell her your hip hurts or your shoulders or your lower back, and you trust that she’ll get to it, but only after the routine, slow, gentle sliding of her hands over your back.
You like her, so you always have a lot to talk about even though you realize talking interferes with her concentration and your ability to relax. Even though you know you should just close your eyes and float away.
Lately, though, because I’ve had trouble with coughing when I lie on my back, I’ve given up on the luxurious, pampering full body massage. Now I go to the mall for my massages. And I love it.
For one thing, I don’t have to make an appointment for a mall massage. I just show up. And there they are, two Chinese men, sometimes also a Chinese woman, and their chairs and kneelers. I find them down the hall from Nordstrom, between the bubble tea shop and the Verizon store.
These Chinese mall massage services seem to be all over the country. My daughter in Maryland and my daughter in Eastern Washington have them. I don’t know about my daughter in Indiana. She’s the one who doesn’t see the point.
This past Presidents’ Day weekend, my neck and shoulders were tight from too much computer work. So … off to the mall I went. Presidents’ Day is always a busy weekend at the mall, but one of the masseurs was free. Seeing me, he put down the knife he was using to peel an apple and got right to work giving me a thirty minute massage on one of the kneelers. ($30.) And believe me, thirty minutes is enough with these guys. They don’t waste a second on gentle preparation. They dig right in with all the strength that comes from years of martial arts training.
The therapist I got that day was really feeling his oats. (Is that an old-fashioned saying? Something from the Old West, I suppose, from the days when everyone rode horses.) Anyway, he was so determined to work out any knots and stiffness that I had to grit my teeth a few times. Better too hard than too soft, don’t you think?
The mall also has music, but with my face in the cradle that’s attached to the kneeler, the music blended with the sound of the shoppers into a single-noted hum, which was surprisingly relaxing.
After my massage, I walked to Nordstrom where I bought a cool pair of deep-plum-colored jeans, and then over to Nordstrom’s Café Bistro where I ate a Cilantro Lime Salad. Such are the related benefits of a mall massage.