Money was tight, but the weekly massage was therapeutic for me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It was money well spent. I love getting a massage. There’s something so freeing about getting naked and having every inch of your body rubbed down.
But as life started to happen and the house eventually sold, I started to get much busier. We’d navigated our way through the family court process, and my writing became less of a hobby and more of a passion that was able to pay the rent. And of course, as with any period where one’s life changes, my “me” time went through an adjustment. I was going to the movies less and less and my weekly massage got cut down to a monthly massage. And eventually it became a quarterly massage.
I still really look forward to going to the spa. It’s usually a spontaneous event now, but whenever I decide to go, I’m always glad I did.
So recently I was driving home when I noticed a spa that I’d never seen before. It was actually only about 10 minutes from my house. It looked cozy and serene from the outside as I passed by in my car. What the hell, I thought, I’ve got a few hours to spare. I turned my car around at the next intersection, then pulled into the private parking lot and looked for the entrance. I noticed a neon sign, which actually sometimes is a bad sign—ironic. It’s really hard to take neon seriously for anything, including spas. But I was already in the parking lot. What’s the worst that could happen?
A ding-dong sound automatically alerted everyone I was there as I opened the door. Then out of nowhere a head popped up from behind the counter. I have no idea where she came from. She was like a life-size jack-in-the-box; it’s like she just magically appeared. She was an Asian lady in her 50s with a huge grin. She quickly grabbed my coat and took my hand. She led me down a dark hallway with rooms covered by curtains on the left side. Once we got all the way to the end of the hallway, she pulled the curtain and held it open for me. She motioned me inside.
“How much for one hour?” I asked.
“Sixty dollars,” she said.
I pulled out the cash in my pocket and handed her $100. I always like to tip up front; I find that I tend to get better service. She smiled and thanked me. As I made my way into the room, she told me to get undressed and lie face down. The room was dark. The only illumination was a few candles, and there was soft, soothing music playing in the background.
Once she left the room I did as she asked. By the time someone else came in the room, I was naked, face down on the table. I tried to peek at my masseuse, but it was hard to get a good look in the dim lighting. I could determine that she was female, a bit older than me, and Asian. But that was it.
The massage started exactly like the hundreds of massages I’d gotten before. She asked if I liked it hard or soft and then started on my upper back with some oil. My body melted into the table. Then the masseuse worked her way down my body. Let’s just say this: She wasn’t shy. She focused on my butt and inner thigh for an extended period of time. She wasn’t afraid. So in my mind I’m thinking, “Hmmmmm.” I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good; so I just lay there enjoying it. Then she told me to flip over; she was even less squeamish about my frontal nakedness. I’m not even sure the towel was properly placed on me.
I’m just going to roll with it and see what happens, I thought. As the minutes ticked down on her 60-minute timer, I realized that this was in fact a legitimate massage parlor and nothing was going to happen. She just took her job very seriously and massaged every inch of my body.
Eventually I heard the buzzing of the alarm indicating that our time was up. She finished me off with some hand chops all over my body.
“Would you like some water?” she asked as she was leaving the room. I smiled and nodded yes. So I got off from the table and grabbed my clothes, which were hanging on the wall. I threw on my underwear and then pants. Then I grabbed my shirt and put my arms through the sleeves. Just as I was buttoning up she returned with a Styrofoam cup. She was a petite woman probably in her 50s. I gladly took the cup from her and started sipping my water. I told her how great the massage was and thanked her again. She just smiled, saying nothing as she stood about one foot away from me.
And that’s when she leaned in to kiss me.
Oh my God. … What is she doing?
My brain tried to process the moment as quickly as it could. What am I supposed to do, I thought. As her head tilted and moved in closer to mine, she reached both of her arms around my body. She was going in for the kiss. I didn’t want to be rude, but I also wasn’t planning on making out with my mature masseuse. And when someone’s leaning in for a kiss, it’s not like you have a lot of time to mull over your options. So I closed my eyes and leaned in like I was playing pin the tail on the donkey. I tried to pucker at a 45-degree angle. I was aiming for the corner of her lips to not make it too awkward for either of us. I didn’t know what else to do. When I felt my lips connect I had indeed landed right on target. It was the corner of her mouth, which I thought was a nice compromise of avoiding a French kiss but also not being too insulting.
But that’s when I felt it.
Her hands were adjusting the collar of my shirt on the back of my neck.
Oh my God. … She wasn’t trying to kiss me; she was trying to help me get dressed.
She immediately pulled back after my accidental kiss and forced a smile. I didn’t know what to do. She just stood there and looked at me. I had to get out of there. I darted out past the curtain of my room and found the nearest exit. I busted out of the door and ran to my car.
I haven’t been back yet.
This article was originally published on