Some situations are just awkward – being told you can’t play with puppies at the pet store because you’re not 18; a father/daughter shopping trip that somehow ends up at Victoria’s Secret; or facing the dentist’s soul-crumbling question, “Do you floss?”
There are also situations that have the potential for awkwardness. Take, for instance, meeting your significant other’s parents for the first time, or trekking past Alabama fans on the way out to Sun Life Stadium’s parking lot because your team is down 28-0 at halftime and it’s just too shameful to stick around.
Too soon, you say? It’s never too soon when it comes to a 42-14 Notre Dame loss.
Last week I had my own potentially awkward situation that ended up being worth the discomfort. It was something that most of us have experienced, but the idea behind it is just kind of strange. I got a professional massage.
In other words, I paid a stranger to touch me in hopes of relieving the tension I had been feeling. Sounds relaxing, huh?
Scheduling a massage always seems like a great idea. What one doesn’t think about until they’re laying half-naked on that semi-heated doctor’s office-looking table, however, is all of the awkward thoughts that occur during 60 minutes and how distracting they can be to the relaxation process.
It begins with the room. In particular, the strange aromas that reside in said room. The pre-massage paperwork gives patients the option to note allergies, but how can one know if the oils being used might cause a reaction? The last thing I want is to be reminded of middle school, when I had to boycott Bath & Body Works products because they gave me rashes.
Then the massage therapist says something that makes overanalyzing a text message seem like child’s play: “Wear whatever you feel comfortable in, lay down under the blanket and I’ll be back.”
Um … okay.
This is where the overanalysis begins: “What underwear do I have on right now? Are they embarrassing? If they’re embarrassing I guess I can take them off. But is that more embarrassing? What do other people do? I’ll Google it. What?! Google can’t give me a definitive answer – it’s up to my preference?! What is my preference? Oh shoot, the doorknob is turning … I guess nude it is.”
Once the massage begins, the mind wanders.
There’s the fear that the blanket shielding your choice to go commando might fall off the table. Then you begin to question the Zen-like music being played and whose job it is to make such soothing tunes.
Questioning the music turns to questioning yourself again: “Is it obvious I’m too anxious to relax right now?” And: “Did I shower before this? Was I supposed to? Hopefully I don’t smell … maybe that’s why the oils are so heavily scented.”
The thoughts continue until that fateful awkward moment of no return occurs – when the massage therapist touches your feet.
Not everyone has issues with feet, but I certainly do. Maybe it’s the fact that my feet have about 15 years’ worth of soccer cleat damage on them. Or it might stem from the time a high school boyfriend asked me to move my feet away from him or at least put on socks.
Either way, I don’t like my feet. Please stay away from my feet.
I understand that a foot massage is an integral part of the experience, but I specifically noted that the therapist was NOT to touch my feet.
So if you’re like me when this horrible offense occurs, there are two options. You can either ask the massage therapist to stop touching your feet (awkward for both of you), or you can simply wait it out (only awkward for yourself).
I decided to wait it out, which meant I basically just made it more awkward by squirming every time she pulled on my toes.
After a potential foot fiasco, things ease up a bit and there is just a lot of uncomfortable touching of the ears and face. You might even fall asleep at this point, but likely not due to a fear of what your body might do if that happened.
The massage ends, you put your clothes back on and chug some ice water as the therapist makes small talk to distract you from the fact that she now knows as much about your body as you do.
Whether you love it or cringe at someone else’s touch, professional massages can get pretty weird. We all do strange things, though, and in the end, a stranger’s awkward touch seems like a small price to pay for some stress relief.
Brooke Goodman is a senior studying journalism and political science. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with anything you’d like to see her right about.