It can be pretty awkward for me to go to a party when I don’t know anyone. It’s even worse when, face to face with an unknown guest, I’m asked, inevitably, ”So, what do you do?”
I gather my courage and reply, enthusiastically, ”I’m a massage therapist.”
“OH WOW, ” says the stranger, who then quickly goes silent, as her discomfort and awkwardness begin to show. ”You are a masseuse?”
“No there is a difference," I explain. "We don’t use the term masseuse anymore, because it implies sex."
“Oh, I didn’t know that.”
”Have you ever received a professional massage?” I ask
Instantly, the answer is “No.” So I try to explain how wonderful it feels and the benefits that massage help improve one’s health and healing. Then I receive further inquiry.
“Do guys come on to you?”
I’m always amazed by the misconceptions about massage therapy, a practice that has been around since the beginning of mankind. Touching and caring for another’s well being is what it means to be human.
So, before the person walks away from me I add….”In my 14 years of service, I once had a client who was a dentist. While I was working on his sore back muscles, I felt a hand going up my leg!”
“Oh my God….What did you do?”
“Well, I calmly said to him, ‘excuse me, but I am the only one licensed here to use my hands!’ and he immediately stopped.”
As she becomes more engaged in our conversation, she asked,”How do you know if you can trust the person?”
“When I first interview someone on the phone and ask specific questions, I get an intuitive sense, but I ask further to find out what they’re looking for. When one asks me if I do full body massage, I proceed to ask them to explain what they mean by ‘full body massage’. Then it comes out how they have tightness or muscle problems in their scrotum….bla bla bla.! I then explain I work on the body but not the genitalia, and if they have a problem they should seek a doctor. Then I calmly hang up!”
“One guy called me and asked if I wore just a bra and panties. I responded, asking if he would expect his doctor to wear just these things? Then I would get an apology. Before I would hang up, I would continue explaining that this care is professional and doesn’t deal with sex or any outward stimulating apparel. Then I added, “If that’s what you are looking for, call Madame Fou Fou!”
She laughed…then I continued. “Another guy came over for a treatment and I handed him the medical intake form to fill out. He took it from my hands, looked at it, and said blatantly ‘I’m not filling this out’.”
I confronted him and asked, ”were you expecting to get sex?
He replied,” yes.”
“Well, that’s not part of this professional medical service.”
So, he hurriedly whispered his apologies and, embarrassed, left shutting the door behind him.
Being a massage therapist is challenging when these kinds of expectations are thrown at me. My main intent is extending complete concern and care for the other’s health and well being without being perceived as a sex object. One needs to be educated and informed about what this intimate treatment is.
“So, are people naked?” my new friend asks.
“They can be. They are on a very comfortable covered table, and they can disrobe privately. They lie between the covers or sheets and are totally covered. I position the sheet to uncover the area I am working on. No other body parts are exposed. The client is treated with utmost respect. When the person turns over on their stomach to reach the head rest, I hold up the entire sheet or cover high over my head with my arms extended so the person can turn over freely without getting tangled up from the sheet.”
“Gee, It never looks like that in the movies!”
“That’s for sure!” The media has given a false impression of what massage therapy is all about, and it’s a real shame. So many people stay away from it thinking it’s kinky…and people are losing out of an opportunity to heal themselves, of being free of pain and stress because of this misconception.”
“Well, it sounds like you know how to handle some tough, scary moments. I would like to come and see you, do you have a card?”
“Sure do!” I hand her my business card. “It was a pleasure meeting you and hope to see you again.”
As I walk over to the punch bowl, I am approached by another stranger: “So, what do you do?”
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