Thursday, May 20, 2010

Hot Stones, Anyone?

The month of May has been a busy one so far, hence my lack of posts. Colin's sister, Ryanne, visited us from Korea, followed by Colin's mom, Kim. We had a great time, and Ella beamed with all of the love and attention showered upon her. If any of you are planning on moving around the world, I highly suggest having a baby first. It will ensure your family seeks you out to visit the baby no matter where you relocate.

It just so happened that Mother's Day fell smack dab in the middle of Kim's visit. Being that this was my very first Mother's Day (yay!), Kim and I were both treated with gift certificates to a local spa in a five star resort. Hooray for Mother's Day! Mama loves her spa trips!

Here we go...
I promptly book Kim and I in for two one hour massages. I find out that this is not a regular run of the mill spa, but a "Traditional Chinese Body Care Facility". OK, I am down with that. My body is indeed in need of some care these days. Bring it on.
The massages we reserve are of the hot stone variety. The gift certificate says "Full Body Hot Stone Massage". I have had hot stone treatments before and have been pleased. Sounds like a good deal.

I am actually laughing to myself as I write this. It is still very funny.

OK... so, we arrive. The massage therapists are Chinese. An important observation. More 'authentic'.

In a quick moment of panic, I worry that the lady with whom I booked the massages with misunderstood me on the phone. It looks as though Kim and I are in the same room? No. This will not do. I love my mother-in-law, but no need to get that intimate with her. I need to be alone with my massage giver. I politely inquire if we are in separate rooms. The Chinese receptionist lady says "No problem". She shows us, rather proudly, the curtain that divides the 'room' into two. Right. Not ideal, but I can make do with the curtain. Kim and I agree this is fine. I walk to my "half" of the room and Kim to her "half".

This is where the weirdness starts. My massage therapist comes in and says "Take clothes off and put here", gesturing to a little table for my clothes. I nod. We stand there in awkward silence. She isn't leaving. She wants me to strip down to my drawers while she stands there with nothing else to do but watch. I can hear through the curtain wall that Kim's lady is doing the same thing to her. My lady gets the hint that I am not stripping while she gawks at me, so she turns her back and pretends to be busy shuffling the hot stones inside their little oven.

I get naked (well, as naked as I care to be with a complete stranger. I leave the underwear firmly in place). I quickly hop under the warm towel provided.

My lady tells me to put my face in the hole. I hate doing that. Anyone that has ever gotten a massage knows this is not a comfortable thing to do and leaves you feeling a bit claustrophobic. Whatever. I will do almost anything for a good back rub. Face goes in hole.

The massage begins (as does Kim's, as our ladies are now talking to one another quietly). Feels good. I am happy.

The whole thing is relatively uneventful until my lady starts on my legs. Before I know it, she has got me twisted like a pretzel. She is rotating my legs in all sorts of funny angles and I am not quite sure what to think. Relax, I tell myself. This is probably some kind of Chinese magic massage that will add five years to my life.

But wait, it gets even more exciting. I hear this strange thumping sound coming from behind the curtain-wall. What could it be? Someone puffing up pillows on a bed? Beating the dust out of a rug? Oh no. It is Kim. Her lady is whomp-whomp-whomping her. It must be quite forceful, as I can almost feel it myself. I suppress the urge to laugh out loud in my hole. Poor Kim. My lady may be a limb-bender but Kim's is clearly beating the tar out of her.

Then it begins. Gently at first. Whomp. Then whomp whomp. My lady starts karate chopping my back and behind like she means it. Oh my goodness. I don't quite know what to do, but to lie there and take it. So I do. I listen to the alternating whack-thump-pat of our massage therapists working their ways across our poor North American selves, knowing that if I hear so much as one peep from Kim's half of the room that I will not be able to control myself. I can feel laughter bubbling up inside me. Then I have a flashback. This beating has triggered a memory (or, it has more like 'beaten' a memory out of me)...

Travelling in China with my dear friend Joanne, we decide to treat ourselves to a day at the spa. We get massages. Oh my goodness, they beat us there too. Except I seem to remember them actually getting up on the table with us to try out some wrestling-type moves. Wow.

So, wait... it gets weirder. I some how zone out for a while, and am brought back to the moment when my lady whispers 'turn over'. OK. I turn over, careful to keep my towel in place across my torso. She resumes her bending/beating hot stone massage. Kind of feels good. Then... WHOOSH. No towel. She has removed my protective layer and is now massaging what appears to be my appendix. What the hell? Where is my towel? I stare wide eyed up at the ceiling thinking about my next move. Good thing it is dark in here. Should I run? Should I search for the towel somewhere on the floor? Do I dare say something to her? I seem to have gone speechless. I opt to remain frozen in my spot as this woman gives me a TRUE full body massage. She was much too close to my bits and pieces for my liking. Was Kim going through this crazy intimate rub down too?

After another thirty minutes, the full body work over ends. Just like that, the lights come on, my lady has gone, and I am left to gather my dignity alone in my half room. I can hear that Kim is also getting dressed. This is what follows:

Me: "Kim?"

Kim, after a muffled noise: "Yes?"

Me: "You decent?"

Kim: Pause. "Yes"

I cautiously pull the curtain aside and look at Kim. Her eyes are wild with squelched laughter. I feel tears burn my eyes just looking at her. I need to laugh. She says something like "Don't talk to me about it until we are outside", and I obey.

We quickly leave and break into a massive laughing attack in the elevator. We actually laughed all the way home, and then again when we shared with Colin.

What on earth just happened? After comparing notes, it seems we both got the ultimate full meal deal of massages, and yes, Kim also had hot stones in places she wasn't quite at peace with either.

What an experience. I will end with saying it was one Mother's Day massage not soon to be forgotten. Next time, I will look for the item on the menu that doesn't say 'full body'.