Sunday, January 16, 2011

Massage Misery

I've encountered a new breed of masseuse here - they are all women, all Asian, all polite and perfectly professional before the treatment and all leave me feeling utterly violated.

Now I've had a fraught relationship with massages since my first one when the therapist, who knew it was my first time snidely remarked, "I'm not massaging your breasts" when she came in and found me laying topless on top of the sheet.  (Before I undressed I told her I didn't know what I was doing and I sure as hell didn't see that tightly pulled sheet underneath me when I decided to lay face up on the table.)  In the decade or so after that traumatic experience, I got back up on horse and learned to enjoy a good 60-90 minute Swedish massage.  I must've had 50 massages since that first one - some good, some mediocre, but all enjoyable at the end of the day.

Two years in Asia and I'm starting to dread a massage the way I dread a trip to the dentist or an hour-long Legs, Bums & Tums class.  Why? Every third time I go, I am mounted, my breasts are mysteriously massaged (until I ask them to stop), and therapist fingers come dangerously close to nether regions. And 9 times out of 10 it's all happening while I'm splayed open in an awkward position, the towel is pulled well below my ass crack or a boob is hanging out.  

I'm not a prude; it's not like I'm freaking out because someone's touching my leg.  But I do start to tense up when someone is repeatedly rubbing my bikini line and then some.  And isn't being tense the last thing you want to feel during a massage??  The worst part is the anticipation because the first misguided rub you can explain away as a mistake, but when the motion is repeated over and over again, there's little doubt this is the intended stroke.  Then - and I realize I'm starting to sound like a Seinfeld episode - I have to worry about offending her by asking her to stop massaging my breasts.  (I'm still working under the assumption that her intentions are on the up and up.)

At this point, should I start having an up-front conversation where I go through the "off limits" areas?  Given the language barrier, I can already picture how this fun conversation of "here and here - ok; here - NOT ok" charades will go.  Then, have I just scared the bejeezus out of a therapist who wouldn't have gone there anyway?  I'm really at a loss here.

PS - While we're on the topic, I'm also really over the way Brits pronounce "massage".  They stress the first syllable, so it comes out "MEH-soj".  I know they don't mean anything by it, but it sounds so pretentious.

PSS - Speaking of pretentious, this whole posting comes off as very "poor little tai tai can't get a good massage", doesn't it?!


  1. Are you kidding? It does NOT come off like poor little tai tai. This is not okay! I say find one masseuse who doesn't feel you up and stick with her!

    I do keep flashing back to that scene in 16 Candles when Molly Ringwald's grandma is like, "Oh look, she's gotten her boobies" and totally feels her up. Ewwww.

  2. Ha! My friend here said one time she was getting a massage and the woman pulled up the sheet, looked at her breasts and started giggling. Can you imagine?!