I am not a calm person.
That statement could seriously compete for Understatement of the Millennium Award, alongside ‘You should feed me before I turn into the Hulk and break everything before turning the rubble into a delicious cake’ and ‘I might have set the house a little bit on fire.’ And those are both mine. You see, playing down the terrible, destructive and disastrous things that I tend to do when left with a body that doesn’t like being whole, adult I.D. and access to matches is one of my talents. Calming down is not. In fact, when I put my talents in order, (which I do, because everyone needs a hobby, right?) chillaxing is at the bottom of the list. I am better at blindfolded knife throwing and training dogs to bake cupcakes than I am at emptying my head.
This phenomenon was super obvious to me a few days ago, when I visited a spa. My friend, my brother and I had planned to get massages, and, because I am awesome at confusing reality me with the shiny version of me that unicycles without injury, has afternoon tea with Neil Gaiman and looks like Natalie Portman with floor-length, blonde mermaid hair, I decided that I would survive the world of pampering like a lady who gets her nails done. I did not. I fooled no-one, I nearly died of the realisation that I am, no matter what movies I may watch, going to be myself forever, and I did not relax. At all.
So let’s start the story at the beginning. We arrived and everything was lovely, as it tends to be in Spas. Then we were asked to sign our lives away. Ok, so we had to let them know that we had no allergies or whatever, but once I’m signing a form, my brain’s in ‘let’s think of how many fun and creative ways we could die today’ mode. I was wondering how many people the masseuse had murdered with her bare hands when we were instructed to change into our swimming costumes. Gulp. This is how they get you, I thought, you die from embarrassment. Your jiggly bits are out for everyone to gawp at and you melt into a puddle of shame and lard. I was kicking myself for paying up front as I wandered back into the spa with a towel clutched tightly underneath my armpits and my eyes firmly on the floor. I was determined not to die before my pre-paid massage.
My friends tossed their towels away immediately, with the sort of candour reserved for Playboy models and Russell Brand, and clambered onto the heated stone loungers. But I wasn’t being so headstrong. Oh no, I had sussed the spa staff out. Plus I figured they’d be happy with two dead bodies and let me put my jeans on. I held onto my towel. The masseuse appeared and my friend went first, happily oblivious to the stench of death settling around us*. I could do nothing but wait, my back rigid against the lounger, for what was in store. I kept my ears pricked for screams or the music from Jaws, but none came. Eventually my friend reappeared. “That was AWESOME,” she said, beaming. Valar morghulis, I thought, and swallowed. I was next.
The masseuse smiled as she beckoned me into the room. I wondered what sort of thing she would do with my appendix. Then I wondered what sort of things I do with my appendix. Then I realised that my friend, my oily, happy, relaxed friend had no appendix. The masseuse left the room while I got down to the mortifying business of getting nekkid. They had the same mirrors that you find in clothes shops, the kind that call you fat to your face, show you exactly where you’ve put on that two stone you thought that you were pulling off like Nigella and point out your sudden acne situation. I lay down on the table, cursing my body for being all there and all wrong.
As soon as I put my head through the hole in the table, I knew I had a problem. I mean, I know I have many problems, such as I do not own every single book ever published and I’ve thus far failed to mind control Michael Fassbender into feeding me cake, but at that moment in time I had a very specific problem. My glasses. The masseuse returned at that moment and started talking to me. “Are you just down for the day?” My brain exploded. All the words fell out of my vocabulary, apart from pumpkin, mmm and schadenfreude. I went with “Mmm,” and she seemed happy with that.
The massage-iness started and I was not calm. With every rub of her hands, my glasses squeaked and groaned against the sides of the table hole. I had never had a massage before, strangers terrify me, especially when I happen to be naked and have their oily hands on my body, so of course I panicked. Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. Just kill me already, I thought, smack me over the head with the stereo that’s currently pumping out sounds of the ocean and get it over with. You can have my appendix. You can have my kidneys. I will sell you my thyroid right now; actually, just have it, it’s yours, just stop this bloody squeaking. I shifted my glasses to the top of my head, where they wobbled furiously with every movement.
“Shall I pop your glasses on the side for you?” Ohmygosh. Thank you, yes, I love you. I don’t care if you’re a murderous masseuse who probably does page three just because she can, and eats five bars of chocolate a day slathered in whipped cream and never puts on a pound, this love is beautiful and real. You are an angel sent from heaven. I love you. I. LOVE. YOU. “Mmm,” I said.
So I could fit my face into the hole, the squeaking had stopped, and there was silence. This is nice, I thought. The worst thing in the world is when strange women talk to you while rubbing your body. Of course, it’s much worse when you’re not paying for it. Then I realised, perhaps the silence is wrong. Maybe I should be making a noise, like ‘Ooh yeah, that’s good.’ Should I do that? Does she want that? I could even use my ‘Mmm’ for that very purpose. Her touch is getting rougher. Is she after vocal results or is it supposed to happen? Why is this so damn complicated?! I looked down and wished there were tiny people holding up a book for me to read.
After a long silence it would be weird to make a noise now, I thought. Anyway, I should focus on this massage. Ooh, my back just clicked, cool. She’s really good at this massage malarkey, go her! I should tell her. Or is that patronising? She must have a lot of stamina to massage all these people. She must massage a lot of people, fat people, thin people, beautiful people, ugly people. I wonder what she thinks of my body. Why do I care? I don’t care. Do I care? This is somehow the media’s fault. Photoshopping exists, they should stop that. I’m totally photoshopping the pictures from today. I wonder if anyone would notice if I gave myself Megan Fox’s body… And Megan Fox’s face… I’m totally replacing my brother with a T Rex. Technology is awesome.
Ooh, she’s doing a new thing now, an elbow thing. I’m totally stealing that. I could totally do this job. I’m gonna massage everyone I know. Actually, not EVERYONE I know… I know some really weird people. I wonder what my friends are doing… Oh my gosh, I bet they’ve left me. This was their plan all along, to leave me here to die from masseuse with a fast metabolism chowing down on my appendix. I hate my friends. I would never do this to them, but now they’ve planned to assassinate me, it’s game on. I am a creative person, I can think of a few epic deaths of my own. Ok, how am I going to kill them? I could… No. How about… Nope. …Dude, I swear I just saw a tumbleweed.
Fine, I am not a murderer, but is that such a crime? Is being a peace-loving, tofu-munching, tree-harassing hippy a good enough reason to kill someone? What is a good reason to kill someone? Spitting’s a good one, and wearing Crocs. Oooh, and arriving late at the cinema, I hate those people. People who are mean to people in customer service suck, and people who leave bad reviews for music and books and stuff. I mean, you didn’t like it, move on, don’t ruin someone’s career for it. Ugh, people. Argh, she’s exfoliating me! It’s ok, it’s ok, we weren’t expecting it, but it’s fine, just- Oh wow, her hands are hot. Are those her hands? Maybe that’s lava. Lava is how I will die. Cool. My grave will be epic. ‘She died from masseuse lava. They took her appendix, but it’s fine, she didn’t want it anymore. RIP.’ Wait, I’ve just realised that my last words are ‘Mmm’ and ‘Mmm’. Maybe I should say pumpkin…
She stopped and stepped back. I felt her hovering above me. “How was that?” Don’t say pumpkin, don’t say pumpkin. And DEFINITELY don’t say schadenfreude. “That was AWESOME!” She left and let me cover myself. I grabbed my glasses, wrapped the towel tightly around myself, cutting off the circulation to my shoulders, and glared at the mirror. I felt my body through the towel for any missing organs before escaping the room. I was alive. I settled into the heated stone lounger, conscious of every organ in my body and trying to compose a thank you note to each of them, without using the words pumpkin, mmm and schadenfreude. My brother went in last, happily, sans towel, and I swear I saw the masseuse eyeing up his liver.
*Ok, that might have been eucalyptus, but they’re similar smells.