Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Massage !#$%@^@! Therapy

I was out of town, working on a show, and just about in knots from the stress. Things weren't going well, and I had woken up with a stiff neck and back, to the point where I had to turn my whole body to look to the left or the right. I looked like a life-size puppet.

I decided that I would treat myself to a massage; since I was without a car, I arranged for a massage therapist to come to me, bringing his table and the whole shebang. I just picked one out of the paper. My mistake.

(Okay, this isn't about THAT kind of massage. Just so you know.)

I was staying in the semi-deserted high-rise in Minneapolis. The wind was whistling around the building when Mr. Massage Therapist got there. He seemed nice enough, just a regular Midwestern guy, with a touch of a Minnesoohhtan accent. He set up the table in the living room, and I got all settled in under a towel, hoping to have my neck and back thawed by the massage.

My head was in the face cradle. All I could see was his feet as he took his place to begin the massage.

"One thing, before we begin," he said. "I have Tourette's syndrome. I hope that's okay."

"Well ... uh ... sure. No problem."

I had gone to school with a guy who had Tourette's. He kept it under control with medication. He had the occasional snort or wince, but it was very mild. I wasn't bothered by Mr. M. T.'s confession. How bad could it be?

He started in working on my neck, very gently. And then about two minutes into the massage, he had a spasm. I could see his toes curl and could feel his hands tense up on my body as he struggled mightily to control himself. It passed, and he kept on going.

Every so often, he'd be seized with a spasm and his whole body would clench. My body, in a sympathetic reaction, began seizing up with tension as well. By the time he was finished, I was a pretzel.

I felt like saying, hell, let loose with the swearing, if it's going to help any. Not everybody with Tourette's has that aspect of it, I know. But actually, by the end there, I felt like swearing.

I was polite as he he left. I admired his desire to help others, and his openness about his condition. But still, perhaps massage therapy was not his true calling.

The only time I'd had a worse massage, I'd gone to get a session on my birthday. The guy kept the radio playing "1010WINS" loudly (New York's traffic and weather station), so I spent my hour being coated in thick oil and being berated by announcers going on about the delays at the Lincoln Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge.

Back in the Minneapolis high-rise, I was worse off than before. I tried sleeping on the floor. As a result, not only could I not turn from side to side, I could barely bend over. I could only make a sort of Mandarin bow.

I resorted to doing the exercises I'd learned back in drama school. I laid on the floor in rehearsal and stretched. I rolled about curled in a ball like an onion. I dropped over like a rag doll and tried to realign my spine. A little better, but no good.

I checked into seeing a chiropractor, but in the end I called another massage therapist, this time on a recommendation from a friend. He arrived with a table and no bizarre behavioral problems. I cried a little bit as the tension flowed out of my body. He told me that each little knot carried with it a bit of muscle memory, a storing of emotion. Given the stress that was going on in rehearsal, it was a wonder I still had a spine at all.

Come to think of it, on that particular show, I wasn't exhibiting much of a spine. Use it or lose it, I guess.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Faustus, M.D. said...

A massage therapist with Tourette's.

I love you.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Zenchick said...

okay...you HAD to have made this up.
Had to.

7:17 PM  
Blogger Zenchick said...

you're never coming back...are you....

8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

and i said shit!

12:47 PM  

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