Today I reached a new level of bravery and uninhibitedness. I got a massage in the mall.
For the last three days, I've had this weird crick in my neck. (Hmmm...writing the word "crick" seems odd, but I don't know what else to call it.) It's traveled up and down my back right along my spine, and then it finally settled itself in right underneath my right shoulder blade. Suffering all weekend seemed like a terrible idea, and my brain recalled the little square in the mall with those massage chairs that just ooze relaxation. I wavered, wondering if I could actually relax in the middle of the mall, but the crick beat out my modesty, and off to the mall I went.
I quickly walked up to a stern looking Chinese lady, wondering who was watching me sign up for the mall massage. She pointed to the nearest chair, which I straddled and mounted under her direction. "There's nothing strange about doing this in the middle of the mall," I tried to convince myself.
Massage lady: You need thirty minutes, yes?
Me: Um...uh...I think I just need twenty minutes.
Massage Lady: Okay. Twenty minutes. We start now.
And boy did she start! She was the strongest massage lady I've ever been privileged to meet in my life, and I knew immediately that I had made a great decision in choosing this mall massage on this Friday afternoon.
After a few minutes, she tapped me on the shoulder. "
Massage Lady: Lady?
Me (as I looked up with my foggy, relaxed eyes): Yes
Massage Lady (holding up an ominous dark bottle with a green liquid inside and Chinese letters on the outside): You have very tight muscles. You need traditional Chinese medicine, okay?
Massage Lady: Two dollars more.
Me: Yes, of course
Now, it never occurred to me to ask what she would do with this traditional Chinese medicine. After I nestled my head back into the face pillow she could have poured it over my head and I wouldn't have cared. I felt that by identifying my tight muscles she had seen into my soul.
I had just a moment when I thought I should lean back, pull up an actual chair, and unload the last week of my life upon her. "It's been a long week," I would say, and then I would proceed to tell her all about how sometimes I'm overemotional and take things to seriously and let others get the best of me and fail to see another person's perspective and how I just want what's best for everyone in this great green earth and why can we all get along and we are the world, we are the children, and imagine all the people. I thought for a moment that perhaps I should tell her these things, and then she would give me a wise smile and some ancient Chinese words of wisdom and the tension in my muscles would melt away as if my magic and I would walk away a better person.
But, instead, she rubbed the green liquid on my upper back under my shirt, and I became keenly aware of the fact that this woman was giving me a rub down in the middle of the mall.
My acknowledgment of my surroundings was short-lived, however, as I soon became lost once again in the idea that massages are, in fact, the greatest thing in all the world and that this traditional Chinese medicine (which seemed a lot like traditional Chinese icy hot) had been passed down for thousands of years in order to my make day better.
Then she starting punching my butt.
Yes, friends, she starting punching my butt. And I remembered once again that I was in the mall.
I thought of the people walking by asking themselves who in their right mind would allow a stranger to punch her butt in the middle of the mall, right outside the food court.
The butt-punching soon ended, and then she began to punch my thighs and poke my calves, and I wavered back and forth between being mortified and so incredibly contented that I wanted to hug the Massage Lady and buy her a drink at Sonic.
Twenty minutes later, my experience was over. As I walked away from that little square in the mall, my neck and back felt better, and I felt I had grown as a person. I held my head high, knowing that the scorn of mall-watchers would never again keep me from these magical healing powers.
I suppose I was healed.