it’s so confusing choosing sides in the heat of the moment



I would like to sing the praises of THE BACKRUB. No, not the massage, and in fact, I’m sick of the whole idea of massages. Because of my precious, petal-like delicacy this week, I splurged and hired a very nice lady to come to our house in Venice to fix my horribly-aching body. After doing the usual deep-tissue massage bit, leaving me again wondering why I keep signing up for such misery, I stopped everything.

I just told her that I’d had surgery, I was sick of feeling like shit, and to just give me a stupid backrub. And she did, and it was awesome.

The BACKRUB is what you get, for free, from the people that love you. It’s what you gave to girls in the dorm, the ones you were contemplating kissing while watching VHS tapes of Wim Wenders movies. The backrub does not seek to purify, or to heal, or to “isolate pressure points”. You give the backrub with only the vague rule of “if I were on the receiving end, what would feel good next?”

I don’t mean to suggest back rubs as a gateway drug to sex, although my brother Sean spent half my wedding roast (nominally called “our rehearsal dinner”) speaking of my apparent proclivities in that direction. And it’s true, I was a big aficionado of the backrub as means of non-verbal communication; I learned my craft from the best in Hinton James (she knows who she is – Hi Special K!) and coming from my repressed childhood, touching other human beings retained its sense of the magical.

The same thing happened later with the oral arts, having learned those from an equally gifted tutor (Hey Lizard darling!) but I digress. The point is this: why do spas, hotels, and body therapists offer only the “massage”, and then further balkanize it, all the way from the boring and twiddly Swedish and Shiatsu, to the muscle-screaming madness of “deep tissue” and Rolfing?

God forbid you get poured into the world of aromatherapy, which leaves you sluicing around in a stew of cold oil, like a tossed vinaigrette salad. Massage music is terrible. And they hardly ever touch your scalp, which is where your HEAD is, as in HEAD-ACHES.

I’m tired of that shit. I want what Tessa does to my arm or neck during a long road trip. I want what I used to do with crushes on the second floor of Spencer Dorm. Quelle dommage, le massage. My apology, reflexology. No thankie, Reike! Nothing’s pending on happy endings! BRING BACK THE BACKRUB!

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