Turns out, I do not have a massage appointment with Michele. I have one with Michel. One little letter can make such a big difference, can’t it?
I try to act all urbane and professional as Michel leads me from the Calming Room (where I had, indeed, felt calm) into the massage room (where I have, mysteriously, lost all the calm.) He offers me a bottle of lavender oil to sniff, which fails to re-calm me, and then he generously sprinkles some on the towel I’m to lay on. He tells me to disrobe, lay face down on the table, and cover my back with the super-thin white sheet provided. Then, he leaves the room.
Now, in some worlds, this would be a fantasy come true. A strapping 20-something Afro-Cuban man has just invited me to take off my clothes. "Woo-hoo," you might be thinking. I’m thinking, "Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid!" But I de-rob and shove my nudie-pitutie body under the sheet as fast as my old legs will go.
A discreet knock on the door and he returns. I’d hoped he would return as a "she", but as far as I can tell, he has remained a he.
Now, everything about a spa massage is designed to make the recipient feel un-sexual yet incredibly sensual. Smells, a warming table, oil, and all the while the fat old lady (me) lies under a sheet. The only part that stays uncovered is the head (for obvious reasons) and the bit o’ body being worked on. So, one leg at a time, Michel uncovers me. He massages my calves and that's fine. He massages my knees and that's fine. The thighs? Not so fine. And when he says, "Lady, because I am a man, I have to ask you if you want me to massage your butt," I about die laughing. Not in my lifetime, Sir Gallahad.
"No, thanks, my butt’s great. I mean, it doesn’t need a massage. I mean, no, don’t work on that." I’m so suave, so Carmen Electra, I astound myself.
Soon, it’s time to flip over. Michel holds the towel up on one side and I’m to rotate myself on this itty bitty table that barely fits even when I’m holding still. Try smoothly rolling over in the exact same spot, naked, while trying to keep your eyes closed so you can pretend that Michel has no eyeballs so he can’t possibly be looking at you. Add to that the greasiness factor of a newly-massaged back, and you, too, might go sliding off the table. Luckily, I fix myself before Michel can help me. If he’d caught me, that would have had to end the massage for fear of looking like a character in a Tennessee Williams play, sans diamond necklace and southern accent.
The hand massage feels fine. The head feels fine. Then, he stretches my arms. Above my head. The previously chest-high sheet is now waist-high, thank you very much, and there I am, in all my glory.
As if I'm not embarrassed enough, he now stretches both of my legs at the same time. Above my head. If he were female, I’d worry about tooting. Since he’s male, I worry about tooting and, oh yah, the whole Naked Shiny Butt No Longer Covered By A Towel thing.
And then, because there is not a single part of me that has not seen the light of day, the massage ends. I’m given time to re-robe and I wonder if I can climb out the window so I don’t have to see him again. (I can’t climb out because there’s a hibiscus bush on the other side, rotten tropical plants.)
He wants to converse as we walk back to the Calming Room. What is it about some people and post-nude small talk? Who wants to discuss the weather? I ask him about Cuban restaurants. Maybe I can eat away the stress, since a massage doesn’t seem to have worked so well.