The décor was such that I started to relax as soon as I set foot through the door. To my surprise, my masseuse’ uniform – short-sleeved white shirt and navy blue slacks - suggested a more medical approach to massage than an alternative/spiritual one. Her voice was warm.
Sue: Hello, you must be Shane.
Shane: Mm. And you must be Sue – hello.
Sue: Hi-. Emma tells me that this is all new to you.
Sue: Ok. What will happen is we’ll go in to the consulting room - which is where you’ll have your massage - and I’ll ask you a few questions - just to get an idea of your body and of the kind of massage that might best suit you, then we’ll go from there. Ok?
Sue: Good. Come on through.
We walked down a short corridor and into a small room that bore a treatment table at its centre, a couple of lazy chairs, and lots of deep reds and soothing accoutrements.
Following an overview of several oil options, I plumped for a bergamot and orange blend. This, I reasoned, would be a safe bet as earl grey tea was my drink of choice and as that is a bergamot blend I’d be on assured ground.
Soon, I had abandoned much of my clothing and Sue got down to massaging. Whilst the situation was unfamiliar to me, I didn’t feel tense or find it at all odd to have my back, shoulders and head being given an intermediate going-over by my very pleasant masseuse.
Sue had been quick to gauge that I wasn’t interested in small talk. Quietly, seamlessly, she moved about the table, her hands flowing over and kneading me, her barefoot steps occasionally audible. Had I been willing to chat, I would have started to ask questions and this would have undone any relaxation. As I lay there, eyes closed throughout, my mind unwound and I found myself wandering in relation to all manner of things – work, rest and play. This was energising, and without an explicit formula, very natural. Occasionally, I wondered what Sue was thinking about – Shopping? What was for tea? Might she be wondering what I was wondering? Really, it mattered not. Only once, during the course of the massage, was I raised from my blissful elsewhereness…
I lay there, on my front, resting my head on a rolled-up towel, another towel draped over me. Sue had been standing at the head-end of the table, working on my neck, shoulders and upper back. From here, her natural flow was such that she would move to my lower back. Instead of taking this on from either side of the table, in a move that took half of a second to perform, she used a stool adjacent to the treatment table to elevate herself. From being stood on the floor ahead of my head, my masseuse shifted to a kneeling position upon the table. With a knee at either side of my head, we now found ourselves in… what, had I been on my back, would be commonly referred to as a soixant-neuf position. Still, as had been the plan, her hands ran down the centre of my back – ever the professional. Though I could not tell what went through her mind at this point, I was clear about my own thoughts and was prone to guess at her’s.
Shane: ‘Holy f*&^ing shit – where did that come from?’
Sue: ‘Ha ha – a sudden tensing - that surprised you didn’t it?’
All in all, it was a very good experience - one that I imagine returning to.