Two things about me: 1) I have an unreasonably small head and 2) If placed in an awkward situation, I prefer to see how it’s going to play out, rather than shifting the dynamics. I find the material valuable. So basically, I live my life purely for entertainment purposes and when my little noggin’ feels like it has a story for a blog or video… I run with it.
One of the activities, well not active for me – but certainly for the therapist, that I have been looking forward to while I’m here, is receiving a traditional Indonesian massage. If you’ve never experienced their little child-like rough hands rubbing, poking and prodding you; you’ve been missing out. I suggest you book your flight immediately and get over here – NOW! You will not be disappointed.
My massage was right before sunset. The original plan was to nap from 4-5pm, but instead, after lying awake staring at the ceiling, I said, “Fuck it,” and jumped into the shower to remove sand from my crevices. Once dressed, I grabbed my sad little green bike and rode down the unpaved road, to find a ‘spa,’ close to my accommodations that looked decent. When riding, tourists and locals can hear me coming, because the bell is slightly loose and so gently dings every time I hit a bump – which on this island is about every second. And if by some chance they can’t hear me, I’ve taken to speaking loudly as I cruise, “ON YOUR LEFT” “BEHIND YOU” or my inner sarcastic voice, “Yes!!! Please stand 6 people wide while blocking the whole road, so you can determine where to go next. Right or left people - figure it out!!!” But in reality, I ride by with a smile and say “EXCUSE ME! THANKS!”
Sometimes I’m in awe at the restraint I have.
I settle on a place I have ridden past several times before but have never stopped. It looks clean, cheap and the beautiful mocha faced lady at reception is sweet and has me fill out a form. Interesting… a place that actually has an intake sheet to ask pertinent information about me and my body! Perfect. Off to a great start.
She gestures for me to sit down using only an extended arm that lowers slowly as she maintains eye contact. Good tactic. I’m amazed at how easily I listen. I sit. Good dog. I’m not down for long, when another stunner of a young lady asks me if I’m ready. You bet! I take off my flip flops and am shown around a corner to a ridiculous steep stair case that leads to a loft space with two identical tables. She, in broken English, asks if I would prefer the one with the fan or not. I choose sans fan. She points to a small intricately carved wooden box (think small toy chest) made from local materials, pushed into the corner, waiting for my clothes to be strewn inside. I look over at her and pause for a beat thinking she’s going to leave me to get undressed. She is not. Instead I get a look to hurry things along.
I slowly start to remove my clothes but soon pick up the pace, not wanting to create a strip show environment. I remove everything except my tiny black thong and throw it all, including my over the shoulder ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ bag, into the box. She looks at me; points to the table to lie down and as I clearly take direction, I do. As I’m starting to shift onto my belly, head facing a wall, I realize there is no top sheet. Um… ok...
However, I figure since she’s seen everything already, I will just lay face down and not stress. I try to clear my mind but I have one small nagging thought… not only is there no sheet, but there are also no curtains around either of the tables. This means, that anyone walking up the stairs would get more than a beach view.
I feel a bit weirded out by the fact that my ‘therapist’ seems to be just standing there. I can’t really hear her and I don’t want to crane my neck around to see what the hell is going on. Those tricky little silent bare feet of hers, have apparently left and come back with a towel to cover me.
However, my temporary calmness turns into complete bewilderment as she gently lays the towel width wise across my low back; ass still exposed. Interesting maneuver. As a sixteen year experienced Registered Massage Therapist, in Canada, my primary concern is to offer a safe space where people can feel comfortable and relaxed. Now I'm not a prudish person, but the draping seems less of a draping and more of a place to simply lay her towel.
As she starts 'pressure pointing' my feet, I am aware of her view.
For a brief moment I sigh and let go - her hands are amazing. But as she climbs on the table and my small ass begins to move around; opening and closing, I begin to feel tense again. Does my little thong hide everything? Is she able to see things that I would not want her to see? And why when she reaches for my inner thighs does she seem to be insistent on rolling them apart. If you haven’t quite grasped what I’m putting down… um… my ass cheeks are spreading with every stroke. This seems a bit much and yet it feels great – as I’ve been biking a lot of the day – but really… what is she looking at???
I am momentarily distracted by the fact that my head seems to not fit in this massive cut out face hole. Up till now, I had my arms over head and my forehead resting on the back of my hands. But my shoulders were getting sore and I felt a bit too much pressure on my neck so needed to shift. This type of table basically has a hole cut out at the top so, in theory, one’s head rests easily in the opening. For some reason my head is not fitting. As I try to get comfortable, I almost choke as my larynx catches the bottom of the opening and my forehead hangs without support. Think rag-doll head and you’d be close. Mmm… maybe I’m too far down on the table… I should slide up. As I do, the pressure shifts into my forehead and I am positive my neck just cracked from the strange angle – my neck is hanging dangerously on the verge of folding in on itself. I can’t stay like this for any length of time. The massage lady asks if I’m OK. I lie and say I am… but clearly I’m starting to fidget and she can see I’m uncomfortable or maybe she thinks I’m just being difficult.
I deduce that this massage table must be meant for massive headed people. How is it that I have to alternate between either crushing my throat or my forehead? WTF???
Finally I lift my head and ask, “Pillow?” While traveling in Indonesia, I’ve learned to speak simply; but that wasn’t my intent here. My vocal cords had spent the last 20 min being compressed by a stupid big massage hole, that I could barely speak.
She looks around, like she’s never had this request before and offers me a cushion used for what looks like meditation. I say, “Smaller?” and use hand gestures so she knows exactly what size would work. She shakes her head. I reach for the large pillow. Fuck it… I’ll make it work.
I try a few different combinations but finally settle on having the pillow shoved under my chest/neck and then once again resting my forehead on the back of my hands. The shoulder discomfort is the lessor of the two evils. As she gets back to the leg massage, the pillow softens and I can angle my head just enough for the side of my face to be supported by the edge of the portal hole to hell.
As she continues to work her magic I start thinking about how she must think I’m picky and if she was a waitress she would definitely spit in my food. I contemplate that that would be an excessive response, but understandable. Ahhh, that feels nice… so relaxing… but what’s nagging me? What am I forgetting?
FUCK. MY ALARM!!!
I know I set it for 5pm (rub rub rub), but did I get here before 4pm or after? (Thighs rolling out, possible bull’s eye exposed. I can’t worry about that now!!!) Why did I not just turn it off earlier?! As my brain is in savant calculation mode, she turns me over; covers my face and gets me all set up for a delicious head and face massage.
I’m sure it’s fine…
BUZZ… BUZZ… BUZZ…
I’m so sorry!!! I tell her this a few times, without looking at her, because I'm so concerned about shutting my freakin’ alarm off. I roll over as she opens the box lid and reach for my stupid ass phone. I turn it off. (She is so spitting in my massage oil.) I finally look up at her as I mutter one last sorry and instantly my apologetic demeanor turns into confusion and then... horror. She is wearing a mask over her nose and mouth. Albeit, a really fancy one… but none the less a FULL ON FACE MASK that you’d see in China. NOTE: 1) I am NOT traveling China and 2) NO ONE WEARS THESE HERE. Is she that nervous to catch something from me??? Do I look like I could give her a cold? An infection? Seriously what? Maybe she took one look at my black microfiber underwear and exposed butt hole and thought, here comes trouble.
After the massage, I gave her a generous tip.
I appreciated her tackling such a nit-picky risky case.