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It Takes Work to Relax

22 Jul Posted by in • Guest Writers | Comments Off on It Takes Work to Relax
It Takes Work to Relax

“You need to relax,” my spouse warned after finding me pole vaulting over the furniture, screaming about politics, the price of gas and other indignities. “Maybe you need a massage.”

Maybe, but I confess I’m intimidated by the world of massage therapists and their hot stones and new age music.  Between my brain and my mouth going a mile a minute, I can’t see myself as a candidate for massage, yoga, or any other calming pursuits. And I’ve tried. Lordy, I’ve tried.

Years ago we installed a double Jacuzzi tub at our house, hopeful for long, candle-lit baths, time spent sipping wine and winding down.

On our first plunge, we discovered the hot water heater was not up to the task. Eager to get to the candles and wine, we grabbed a spaghetti pot, filled it with water, set it boiling on the stove, then dumped the brew into the tub. There hasn’t been so much running with pots of boiling water since Butterfly McQueen began birthing babies in Gone With The Wind. Not, relaxing.

So next, I tried yoga.  Scared of displaying physical and mental inflexibility, I went to a Gentle Yoga class – which is a polite way of saying it’s for the elasticity challenged.  If I ever did manage to get my feet and wrists on the floor simultaneously, butt toward Mecca, the only thing to get me vertical again would be the winch on a tow truck.

But yoga is awfully non judgmental. Nothing is a problem. If you can’t stretch to a specific position, they give you a dowel in your hand to bridge the gap. Can’t reach around your own thunder thighs to pull your knees to your chest? There’s a canvas belt to help. I appreciated the assist, but I looked like a piece of furniture cinched into a Bekins Van.  With all our innocent apparatus lying about, we resembled S&M cultists.

You know, it is possible to relax too much. Under the heading of “that’s okay, it’s supposed to happen,” certain yoga positions can cause flatulence. Everybody in our class, at one time or another, produced an audible emission. I don’t think that praying you’ll get through the hour without breaking wind is the kind of meditation we’re encouraged to practice.

From yoga I moved on to mineral baths. We traveled to the State Park Bathhouse at Berkley Springs, West Virginia, where the newest fixtures looked to be from the FDR Administration. That went for the staff, too.

After my soak in 750 gallons of mineral water, I was led to an antique massage table, draped in a scratchy white sheet and rubbed down with a traditional mixture of olive oil and 190 proof ethyl alcohol. I felt like a wedge salad.  And I was so slippery I began to slide off the table, saved only by the efforts of my 85-year old masseuse.

“When do you add the balsamic vinegar?” I asked. She was not amused and I was not relaxed.

A year later, still never having had what I considered to be a therapeutic massage, we went to China – home of the famous foot and full body massage. Our tour bus stopped at a building lit up like the Vegas strip, with a marquee flashing “Foot Massage!” I didn’t know if I was going for a medical procedure or a Broadway show.

First they cooked my feet in herbal tea, then tossed me on a table, thumping my shoulders like I was a bongo drum. Apparently my Qi energy was out of alignment, and that’s bad. While a platoon of massagers pinched and pressed at acupressure points, I wondered if this was how the terra cotta warriors died.  I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and some Moo Goo Gai Pan.

Then, a year ago, shanking a golf ball, I strained some cartilage in my sternum. The deep tissue massage therapist  cured my ailment, but I can still feel the torture of her putting her elbow in my shoulder blade and trying to make it come out my esophagus. Not relaxing, with a capital NOT.

So now I’m doing research. Just this afternoon I poured myself a martini and sat down to learn about all the different massage disciplines and what my next move should be.  Do I want Swedish massage, Aromatherapy with essential oils or hot stone treatments? How about Shiatsu finger pressure or reflexology? You know, reading about this stuff, Schnauzers at my feet, with a drink in my hand, well, it was very, very, relaxing.

By George, I think I’ve got it. I’ve invented the Vodka with Essential Olives Therapy. Ask for the room with the Schnauzers.

Fay is a native New Yorker, who spent 30 years in the Washington, DC area working in journalism and  public relation before moving to Rehoboth Beach, DE to become a full-time writer.. She is the publisher of A&M Books, a successor to the legendary Naiad Press. Her first book, As I Lay Frying – a Rehoboth Beach Memoir (2004) is in its 3rd printing. A second essay collection, Fried & True – Tales from Rehoboth Beach won the 2008 National Federation of Press Women’s Book of the Year for humor. Her newest book, For Frying Out Loud – Rehoboth Beach Diaries has won a ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year for Humor, a Goldie Award, Delaware Book of the Year and once again, the National Press Women Award.

Fay has contributed to such publications as The Advocate, Curve Magazine, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Delaware Beach Life and more. You can reach Fay at

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