Thursday, September 12, 2013

What to do when you are an extremely awkward human being

Had my first professional massage today.

It was...interesting.

I'm not sure I'll try it again, but I wanted to see if it's just that I don't know how to get massages and did something wrong, or maybe it's really just that I'm totally sociophobic (made-up-word, I know) and should never be allowed to interact with other humans.

I assume that even non-cancer massages have some paperwork involved, right? Liability and all that, in case they massage a nerve and paralyze you for life (tell me that can't happen)? My cancer massage had lots of paperwork and I felt like I was trying my hardest to pass a test, but I didn't know which answers would allow me to pass and actually get the massage. Like they were just going to say, "Nope, shouldn't have checked that box. No massage for you. Leave now." After the paperwork, which already felt test-esque, the massage therapist asked me a ton of questions about my cancer and my meds and where my pain was (the point where she asked if my pain was under control felt like a dealbreaker - like since I'm not in terrible pain, I shouldn't be taking up a valuable time slot where another actually in pain person could get their cancer massage. But apparently I can get a massage even if I don't hurt that much). So that was the oral part of the exam.

I decided to just get her to massage my feet and calves, since I've had some cramping in them - possibly related to chemo, but maybe just because my sedentary lifestyle became even more sedentary over the past few months (if that is even possible) and my muscles just want to be used. So I didn't think that I would have the issue of clothing or non-clothing. Because let's face it, that's really my concern about massages. But then she said that it would be easier if I were pantsless, unless I wanted her to massage my thighs through my yoga pants. That sounded weirder than being covered by a sheet, so I agreed, but really, I was thinking "Why are we even touching my thighs?" The answer to that question is probably something to do with circulation or other nonsense. And then I realized that maybe I should have gotten some non-religious underwear for this particular situation. But I didn't realize that until after she had left me to undress and slip under the sheet.

This is tmi, obviously. I'm just such an awkward human being. She dimmed the lights and turned up, for lack of a better word (synthesized extended notes vaguely reminiscent of ocean waves doesn't trip off the tongue that well). Then she started rubbing my feet and I had no idea what to do. Should I talk? Should I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep? It's kind of like the dental hygienist or the hair-stylist question. Do they expect you to chit chat? And what about? I have absolutely no idea what to do in those situations, but I especially had no idea about what to do in this massage situation. And then I just kept thinking about it and getting more and more weirded out by myself. About halfway through I remembered that I needed to be back in plenty of time for Adam to take the car to school and didn't know how long it had taken and was going to take and I wanted SO BADLY to check my watch. But I didn't. Aren't you proud? I just sat there like some sort of stuck-up queen with an underling massaging her feet.

So here are my questions. Will you guys help me be less of an awkward person in the future if I ever try to do this again (unlikely)?

  • Have you ever had a professional massage? Full body or just an appendage?
  • Did you enjoy it?
  • Did you talk to your masseuse? If so, what about?
  • Was it a clothed or non-clothed massage? Dare I ask about underwear or no?
  • Would it be weird to give them specific instructions about where you want stretched or kneaded? Or is that like criticizing their professional skills?
  • Should I give it another try? And should I stick with the feet or try something else?
Please help!


Rachel said...

David gave me a message for V-day and I finally got up the courage to get the message on my birthday in June... It was a full body massage and I really enjoyed it, but I am so glad I'm not the only one who went in clueless. Thankfully I brought some non-relgious undies. TMI? I didn't chit chat but I did have an awkward moment when I had no idea what to do AFTER the massage... I didn't know if they were going to come back and get me like at doctor appointments or if I was supposed to just walk out...well...I waited a really long time after I got dressed and no one showed up. Guess what? I was supposed to walk out when I was done and I the masseuse and receptionist whisper to each other something to the effect of "that took a long time..." It was quite embarrassing to say the least. Alas. You should do it again now that you know what to expect. :)

Rachel said...

I re-read your questions...and on my form they encouraged their patients to tell them what hurts/what they would like their masseuse to focus on.

Mom Walton said...

I have never had a massage because I do not know the answers to your questions and thought the stress of not knowing what to do would outweigh the advantages of the massage. I won a free massage once and gave it to a friend.

Denise Dalton said...

Four blog posts in as many days! You are spoiling us, Bonnie.

ashley said...

I also have no idea and have never gone. It makes me really nervous and I think about the time I went tanning and did it wrong. (How is that even possible?? though I have to admit I went tanning a lot for a while, after I figured it out.) Embarrassing. I love that I'm not alone on this one.

Katie said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one that is borderline freaked out about this! In fact, when I was pregnant with Phoebe Sterling gave me a massage for Christmas. ( as in a handwritten coupon) and I was to worried about it that I never used it.

Jamie said...

So funny, just loved this. Can't wait to answer your questions since I love massages (also my favorite book is The Bombshell Manual of Style). I have mostly had the spa/salon kind, full body. Can't say I remember a lot of paperwork--you just show up, get naked, and get under the sheet. And then you just relax. It helps if you don't have to be anywhere immediately afterward so you can just zone out. You talk or don't talk, whatever you prefer. I went on my birthday and I remember making a little small talk about that, then getting so relaxed I almost fell asleep. Maybe it was the soothing synthesized extended notes vaguely reminiscent of ocean waves. Anyway, I think you should definitely give it another chance. Do whatever is comfortable for you. Loves!

Bonnie said...

Thank you all for your help and advice! I feel less alone in my massage cluelessness. Looks like I didn't mess up too badly.

Also, it was a free massage, but should I have tipped her?

Stubbs said...

I've had a few full body massages, and I loved them. But I agree, it can be kind of awkward. I didn't talk, unless they asked a question. It's really good to tell them where you need work done, it's not criticizing at all. Just tell them what, where, and how. Don't feel embarrassed to tell them if it hurts, or to rub harder. I brought undies and wore just those under the sheets. But yeah, it's weird because you're totally naked under the sheets. I say give it another try, and leave all your concerns at the door. That massage is your "me" time.

Jean said...

I did have a full-body massage once, and (possibly?) weirder, it was in a person's master bedroom. I undressed in the bathroom and climbed under the blanket on the table, and then she came back in. She gave me a "deep tissue" massage which hurt LIKE I'VE NEVER HURT BEFORE in those particular places, for days afterward even. But luckily she was a talker and I didn't have to worry about awkwardness at all.

Kristine said...

So I've been debating whether or not to to tell you my experience for a few days. It was just that embarrassing! One time in a single's ward I met a friend who was going to massage therapy school. She had to get in a certain number of practice hours and asked if I'd let her give me a massage. I was, like you, not sure how it all went. She had me come to her basement apartment and when I walked in she had her table set up in the front room. I just had to undress under the cover, which was awkward and uncomfortable. I was also really worried about being in the front room, but was hoping and assuming that she knew she wouldn't have any visitors during our appointment. Unfortunately, only a short way into the massage her roommate AND her boyfriend walked into the apartment. I was absolutely mortified...but it got worse. Her roommate then started a discussion with my friend about how uncomfortable it was for her to walk in and have her doing massages. I seriously wanted to sink through the floor. I don't even remember what she massaged. I think it was just my shoulders/back and maybe legs/feet, but I have never gone again. I have actually wanted to try it on occasion when I've been really sore and tense, and I can't help but think it would have to be better than my first experience.

I have a sister who has gotten a few of them and loves them. She also doesn't talk during the massage. My guess is that if the massage worked and felt good, you'd enjoy it much more the second time around and it wouldn't be as awkward. But hopefully, this helps you feel least no one unexpected joined you?! :)

Bonnie said...

Kristine, you win the prize for most embarrassing story! That sounds awful!

Oh my goodness. I will probably not be going again anytime soon. Adam gives better foot massages anyway.

Emily Foley said...

Bonnie, I don't know if you'll even read this but I just wanted to comment back and tell you thanks for commenting on my blog and also I'm so sorry about your cancer. In the past 5 years my mom has had cancer twice (breast, uterine), my dad once (prostate), my uncle passed away from pancreatic and my sister is currently undergoing treatment for thyroid. It's all ridiculous. Stupid cancer.

Massage. oh my friend. DO IT AGAIN. TAKE ALL OF YOUR CLOTHES OFF AND LET HER DO HER THING. Yes, even the garments. Seriously. Tell her what you like and don't like, tell her if she's pushing too hard on your neck (I swear they want to actually rip your head OFF) and just close your eyes. No chitchat. Just try it! I've had 2 massages, both completely nude. I told them not to massage my bum (yes, they offer that) but everything else was fair play. And it's AMAZING. Try again.

Liralia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bonnie said...


It was so nice to get a comment back from you!

I agree, stupid cancer. As Adam says, "Cancer is a jerk."

Thanks for the advice about the massage. I may be trying again, if just because my most recent medication causes muscle aching...blech.