I’m face down on a mattress, and a tiny Thai woman is climbing on top of me. Her knobby knees jab my hamstrings and her rock-hard thumbs stab my back. I have to remind myself that I not only volunteered for this, but I’m also paying for it.
When it comes to massages, I’m a Swedish massage girl all the way. Soothing strokes and gentle kneading make me want to purr like a kitten.
I tried a deep tissue massage once. It was painful during the experience and for a day or two afterwards. Not a fan.
For more than two months now, the left side of my back, particularly around the shoulder blade, has been knotted. Some days are not so bad, and then there are times when I’m uncomfortable or there’s a recurring twinge.
There are Thai massage places all around Budapest. It feels like you can’t walk a few blocks without passing one. Compared to the United States, the prices are cheap. After my brother visited and treated himself to two Thai massages, I thought I’d give it a try.
My brother is laid back when it comes to getting a massage. He doesn’t care about the facility; he just wants a good massage. Me? I want a good massage and a place that has a quiet room or area so I can relax before the experience and marinate in the feeling of the massage afterwards. When my brother predicted I’d like the one place more, I decided to investigate. The website even offered a special: during the morning hours, you could get a 30 minute back and neck massage for 3,000 HUF (Hungarian Forint). At today’s exchange rate, that’s US$12. Score!
I arrived to find a Zen-like atmosphere with a few padded chairs off to the side. The receptionist even spoke some English and confirmed the special I found online. And I could have the session right away. So far, so good.
The woman showed me to my room and handed me a white cotton shirt and drawstring capri pants. Soon after that I found myself face down on the mattress and the Thai woman mauling my calves.
Many questions came to mind. Did the receptionist misunderstand what I wanted? Is the whole session going to hurt like this? When was the last time I shaved my legs?
The woman’s thumbs should be classified as deadly weapons. My calves weren’t sore beforehand. They are now.
Why didn’t I say something? In addition to anticipating a language issue, I figured this was what a Thai massage is and it actually might be good for my back. If she ever got there. Fortunately, she did.
After dealing with my legs, I sensed that she was surprised at the condition of my back. I had thought her thumbs were her deadliest weapons…until she started using her elbows. I tried but couldn’t hold in a grunt or two. I think she even chuckled after one. Did she take pleasure in killing me?
Usually when I’m getting a massage, my mind flits from one thought to another. I let my thoughts take me where they want to go, usually landing in a blissful state of oblivion. I was very much in the present during this massage, aware of every single muscle being poked and prodded…and then pressed…and then slapped!
Just when I thought it was over, she had me sit up to work more on my upper back. The grand finale entailed her putting me in a seated full nelson. She first gently turned my upper body to the left and then twisted it to the right, resulting in some quiet pops. Then she turned me to the right, followed by a twist to the left. A wave of cracks pierced the air. I believe my response went something like this—“UGH.”
Was the entire experience painful? No. Was it more difficult than I’m used to? Absolutely. Would I recommend it? Only to people who like deep tissue massages.
Most important, was it helpful? We’ll see. The jury is still out on that. But like a good optimist, I’m hopeful.