My sister took me to a spa in Fort Garry called Thermea. In bathing suits and white bathrobes, we sashayed between the outdoor hot pools, warm and cold pools, dry and wet saunas with accompanying scented oils, an outdoor fireplace where we read our books, and indoor mats that lulled us to sleep in the warm heat.
We had lunch with wine, then scurried back to the pools. By the time we showered, I felt limper than an overcooked noodle. I left my sister and headed upstairs, where my massage therapist waited. The obvious offspring of a village pillaging Viking and an orthodox Jew with tattoos, his curly side locks seemed completely appropriate. Plus, he was huge. And I’d never had a male therapist before. By had, I mean… You know what I mean.
I’ve never really understood the rules about this stuff. We have society’s permission to be naked in front of opposite sex strangers if: a) you accidentally end up on a nude beach, like Clarence and I did, or b) they’re doctors and nurses. Was this the same thing? Is there a panel of people who decide the protocol of nudity? I did have a sheet and blanket for a covering. And this guy was a master at arranging them around my legs, upper torso, lower torso, like some kind of sheet genie. Whenever I started feeling uneasy, he’d work the tension right out of me.
Because he was so large, he didn’t have to glide around the table like a regular therapist. Instead, he would hip check the table, sending it wherever he wanted it to go. With hands the size of my back, he could have snapped my neck like a chicken. Between the sheet arranging, his breathing instructions and the moving table, I should have been flustered beyond the point of relaxation. But I wasn’t.
It helped that he kept calling me dear, like I was his ninety year old grandmother. And he had a way of breathing that was hypnotizing. My breath just kind of fell in line. Before I knew it I was completely relaxed. So if you’re lucky enough to go to the Thermea spa in Winnipeg, ask for Justin. Don’t be alarmed by his size. He’s a kitten packaged like a dinosaur. But with really good hands.