» LATEST FEATURES
LITERATURE» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
MUSIC» The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
MUSIC» Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
Apparently, I missed the memo about massages. If I had only known sooner how incredibly relaxed and at ease with the world I'd feel afterwards, I wouldn't have waited so long to get my first one.
Let's clarify - I'm not talking about a "massage" at some thinly veiled house of ill repute. No "happy endings" here. Having your girlfriend/boyfriend give you a shoulder rub doesn't count, either. Those are nice, in their own right, but not the same thing. I'm talking about going to a legit spa, and having a trained professional, with good knowledge of muscles and body structure, work you over; a real, straight-up massage.
Before I ever had the experience, I never thought a massage was that big of a deal. It seemed like an unnecessary luxury, another excuse for the rich to spend their excess money. But like most wonderful things, you don't know what you're missing until you get to live it for yourself.
I was recently on a short trip to Las Vegas, and it was there that I decided it was time to try one out. I'd been working pretty hard at the time and hadn't really had a vacation in a while, so I figured I'd indulge myself a little bit. So I go to the spa at my hotel (The Flamingo) and make an appointment for an hour of massage. Included, along with the massage, is the use of the facilities - steam bath, sauna, fancy multiple-head showers, jacuzzi, a guy that brings water and fruit juice.
The whole thing is wondrous in its simplicity. All I had to do was shower (with one of those fancy multiple-head showers, with actual water pressure!) and then be naked except for a towel. Once the massage guy was ready, I went into a room and lay myself down on a table, and then he went to work.
A short diversion: yes, I was massaged by another guy. I really didn't care. I'm highly comfortable with my own heterosexuality, and as long as they knew what they were doing, I didn't care who the hell was going to administer the massage. Unlike George Costanza, I wasn't worried that "it" was going to move. During the massage, I was more concerned about being so relaxed that I'd fart in this guy's face, which would have been more embarrassing than anything else.
I did however manage to avoid that particular humiliation, and the massage went off splendidly. This guy really knew what he was doing, at least as far as I could tell. Every muscle in my body was rubbed down and flexed out, and I just melted right in to the table. By the time it was over, and I made my way over to the steam bath, I was a thousand miles away from anything resembling tension or anxiety.
The only thing I would have changed about the entire experience would have been the music that was on while in the massage room. Though, in reality, it wasn't nearly as bad as what I expected. The stereotype called for really hokey John-Tesh-style New Age pap, and I'm not sure that having to sit through an hour of that wouldn't have made me even more tense, totally defeating the purpose of why I was there. Thankfully, this place had better sense than to subject their clients to that kind of torture.
Instead, I got what seemed like a lot of jazz standards, some older and some more modern. It wasn't great, and many were a little too corny for my tastes, but it wasn't awful, either. It was something I could certainly tune out easily enough, and with some of the plinking-piano songs, even occasionally lose myself while the stress was being carefully removed from my body.
Still, being who I am, I couldn't help but think of all the different songs and albums that could have been even better to hear while getting a massage. I do listen to a lot of spacious, ambient, mellowing music, much of which would have been perfect for this particular setting. My internal DJ was going through the musical rolodex, check marking all of the mainstays of my "I need to relax" listening rotation that would have been highly appropriate for the occasion. Sigur Rós? Yes, definitely. Air? That'd work. Any dub reggae whatsoever? Mmmm. Boards of Canada? Most certainly.
Really, anything that isn't overpowering, and that invites you to get completely lost in the soundscape would be entirely fitting. In fairness, that did seem like the vibe they were going for with the music that was playing. Perhaps he chose what he chose because he just wasn't aware of the options - this guy didn't seem like he'd be particularly familiar with European electronic duos or Icelandic bands. How many music snobs are also masseuses?
I wonder if any of those masseuses would be offended if, the next time I went to get a massage, I brought my own music. Do masseuses have egos about the music they provide? I assume the music is more there for me than for them - so what would be the big deal if I brought the kind of songs that I know would make me as mentally relaxed as the massage made me physically relaxed? Then again, if I were a masseuse, I'd take a lot of pride in having just the right music there for the experience, and I'd be rather pissed off if some dude brought his own CD to listen to.
Next time I go, I'll have to ask them about it. For, rest assured, I will be going for another massage, and right soon. I have tasted the sweet, soothing nectar, and I long to taste it yet again. I can't really overstate how important it is going to be from now on to make sure I let all of the anxiety and stiffness out on a more regular basis. It's the only way I'll be able to keep the focus it'll take to achieve everything I want to achieve. And if I can really dig the music at the same time, then it's just that much more at peace and tranquil I'll emerge at the end. Ah, if only I had gotten that memo sooner.
Dan Filowitz is Toronto-born, New-Jersey-raised, Indiana-University-educated, and Chicago-residing. In addition to his Lost At Sea contributions, Dan is a senior staff writer for political humor site TalkStation.com and the president of ChicagoImprovAnarchy (The CIA) a Chicago-based improv theatre company. We are not mentioning the 9-5 corporate job. Apparently, Dan does not sleep much. Dan Filowitz is the perfect dinner party guest - fun, witty, intelligent, with wide-ranging interests, ecclectic tastes and a winning smile. Just make sure you have coffee available.
See other articles by Dan Filowitz.
» MEDIA DOWNLOADS
» GOT STICKERS?
--> Send an with $2 in PayPal funds to cover postage. Don't worry, we'll load you up with enough to cover your town. Then just be patient. They will arrive soon.