You are told to remove your shoes, your socks, your trousers, your blouse, your bra and your underwear. You are then told to lie on the table and relax while a complete stranger pours hot oil all over your naked body, and then penetrates your muscles using their fingers. And for this you pay them up to $85 an hour.
When I first hurt my back in the “scooter incident of 2003” I wasn’t sure an RMT or Registered Massage Therapist could help, but I was willing to try anything. I just wanted to get rid of the zing that went from my lower back up into my right shoulder on a regular basis. The pain paralysed me at work and at play, and occasionally in mid-conversation, when the zing would cause me to have a whole body jolt, which scared off whomever I was conversing with.
I wasn’t sure about “massage”. I thought it was all Enya and candles and hot oil and women with long flowing hair and walking through a curtain of beads. And to be honest, sometimes it is. But when I first went to see an RMT it was very clinical and professional. I saw a no-nonsense woman named Clarice. She was tall and slim, with a strong jaw and even stronger long fingers. She was German, and when she ordered me into the room, I didn’t argue.
Clarice circled around me like a starving cheetah about four or five times, inspecting my body. She stared hard into my eyes as she lifted my chin with her strong, long fingers. She measured my hips, and leg length and told me my right leg was longer than my left leg. She told me my posture was terrible and I needed to lose weight. She made some notes in my chart and shook her head in disgust.
As she left the room she told me to remove my clothing and lie face down on the table. I stood there wondering what she meant by “remove your clothing”. I took off my shirt and pants and folded them neatly on a chair. I removed my socks and laid them over my clothes. I stood there in my underwear, wondering if she wanted me to remove my underwear.
There was a knock at the door. “Ready?” I was halfway through removing my underwear. I stumbled over to the door and pushed it closed.
“Just about.” I quickly shrunk off my bra and shoved it under my pile of clothes and launched face first down on the massage table.“Ready.”
Clarice entered the room with force. There was a moment of silence, and I became very aware of my nakedness. “Just so you know, you don’t have to remove your underwear.”
“Oh.” It was like a physical exam with mood lighting.
“Why don’t I just leave the room and when I come back you will have on your underwear?” I just nodded. It was all I could do.