Thursday, September 16, 2010


You know how some days you just need a hug, just to feel a connection….human contact….We are so busy these days that even when we are around our friends and family, we rarely touch. In our society it is often taboo or even “bad manners” to be so touchy feely. 

A few weeks ago, I found myself craving a hug….a big man hug. I wanted that masculine protective energy wrapped around me that only a father or brother can give unconditionally, no strings attached. I wasn’t going to be around any of the men I trust and feel comfortable enough to ask for a platonic hug….What to do?

Then it hit me! I needed a massage from a male massage therapist. Yes! It had worked before. I picked up the phone and immediately made an appointment. What better way to have a man "show up." He has to be on time otherwise he’s fired, so he’s reliable by default. He does what I tell him to do…ok, because I pay him...small technicality...He has to completely satisfy me while keeping his hands in the designated “safe” areas.…and at the end of the service, I owe him NOTHING but a tip. I don’t need to massage him back, or take turns to make it “even.”….lol…And the only expectation I have, is to get a deeply relaxing massage....Before I go any further, let me just say that I also love female massage therapist because when I need nurturing, reassurance and compassion, they offer that and more. Their touch is very healing.

So, I booked a 75 minute treatment, fully taking advantage of spa month. For those of you, who have no idea what this’s an amazing bargain! During certain times of the year when spas are experiencing low season,  these spas will offer their services at discounted prices. Even some of  the fancy spas do this, so if you’ve always wanted to go to one but thought it impossible, nothing is impossible! Not only do you get a great discount but you also get to enjoy all of the spa’s amenities…the sauna, steam room, lounging areas, pool…all of this is included in the discounted price!

My appointment was set for early in the morning. This particular spa is a hamam, Turkish style baths, with do it yourself hydrotherapy treatments. One of the do it yourself treatments is to submerge yourself in the jacuzzi and then immediately submerge yourself in the cold plunge pool, "shocking" the body into releasing toxins stored in our cells while also improving circulation. All I know is, that after I’m done, I’m sooo mellow and blissful….now can you imagine this combined with a massage? Heaven!

I wanted to arrive an hour early. Since I’ve been to the hamam many times before, I have a ritual that helps me get into the groove of things. I check in, get my robe and almost run to the deliciously warm marble floor. Yes, warm marble! You see there’s a tiered section right when you walk in that is heated marble, kept this way by hot water running under it...I disrobe…..yes, nothing under but my bathing suit!....forgot to mention the hamam is unisex, men and women share all the common areas. I grab two towels, place them on the floor and lie down. Ahhhh…I’m home…with my eyes closed, I adjust myself finding the perfect position. I take a deep breath in....and I slowly exhale....releasing any tension I might have…I breathe in again and exhale again, this time melting into the floor, letting the warm marble embrace me. I always fall asleep. For how long? I don’t know but it feels so good when I wake up and open my eyes. 
As luck would have it, on the day of my appointment, I forgot that school started an hour later! I no longer had the hour to luxuriate in the hamam before my massage. “Ugh! Not good, not good!”….and so my relaxing day was spiraling downward...into a stressful car race south bound on traffic jammed Biscayne Blvd. I could feel myself tighten up, barely breathing, telling myself, “relax, breathe, breathe….your timing is perfect.” I arrive….frazzled with a minute to spare, trying to look and feel calm. I’m told told that my massage therapist is running a few minutes late. Yes! Wait…is that going to cut my appointment short?….oh, It better not or someone is going to get it! Fortunately, it didn’t. I had time to put my robe on and relax a bit in the lounge area. No time for the warm marble but I could do that after.

I was greeted by Max, massage therapist extraordinaire. He asked me in an undeniable Italian accent, “Are you ready?”.....Oh, Yes, I’m so ready, massage me into submission please! He leads me to a  treatment room where the most heavenly music is playing, my favorite, Deva Premal’s chants.  I can already feel myself floating into the stratosphere as I lie on the table covered in the warmest of blankets, shielding me from the room’s cool air. Max starts, massaging, kneading and pressing, unraveling all the knots I have. He has “magic fingers.” His fingers seemed to be dancing on my back….swiftly, with the deepest pressure while still being gentle...How was he doing that? I was enjoying his touch, mentally complimenting him, saying, “that’s good, how about higher?” The next thing I know, he's massaging the very spot I was thinking of…What! No, has to be a coincidence…so I thought again, “Max a little to the left, please?” A few seconds passed and he moved to that spot! OMG! He can read minds, great! I don’t have to talk, I love it. I don’t know if he can read minds, or not….I believe he was just so in tune with my body, he knew what it needed.

After the massage portion of the treatment was over, he leads me to the hamam and he gives me water infused with lemon. He leaves me there, promising to return shortly.....When Max returns, he is carrying bowls filled with fragrant concoctions and he’s wearing a sarong?! Yep! A sarong….this should be interesting? In the name of self care, I surrender to this experience. I lie down in a bed of plush towels. There’s one for my head, one under my knees and quite a few under my body.  Let me tell you, if you are not use to receiving and being pampered, it can be a little weird and intimidating to have all that undivided attention on you. Thankfully, I’m all about self care and “researching” all kinds of self care rituals. So when he gently “threw” water on me, from my feet to my neck, prepping my body for the scrub, it was quite startling and hysterical at the same time. I kept my eyes tightly shut, to keep myself from laughing. Those of you who know me, know that I laugh at the drop of a hat. For me, not to bust out laughing, was a feat.  As I kept my eyes tightly shut, I thought, “this is one for the books! Now how can I surrender to the experience and enjoy the rest of the treatment?” After a few seconds, I had it! I’ll “be” Cleopatra! And Max can “be” one of my servants, giving me the royal treatment I deserve. Yes, I can totally do this! ...Cleopatra had it made. 
Using coconut milk and a small towel, Max started scrubbing my feet making his way to my neck. He scrubbed my legs, my belly….scrub, scrub, scrub….everything was perfect, until I started wondering how the pressure in his scrubbing had remained the same even though he was reaching from the bottom of my feet all the way to my arms, using his hands…..or was he?” “Oh, don’t look, don’t look, please don’t look! If you look, you’ll break the spell! Don’t do it!”….curiosity got the best of me, so I peeked with my right eye….."NO! Be Cleopatra, think Cleopatra! Breathe, oh please erase, erase the blurry image of Max scrubbing me with his foot!” I kept on telling myself not to think about it and to go back to pretending I was Cleopatra. It sort of worked. Thankfully, the treatment was over in a matter of minutes and I was washed down with water again.  Then Max walked me to a stainless steel bathtub filled with hot water and lavender salt crystals.  He held my hand as I got into the bath, immersing myself in the sweet aroma of lavender. The hands on part of the treatment was over. Aside from the small glitch with the “foot,” the whole treatment was fabulous! Max sure knows what he’s doing.

As I floated in the water, and I digested the whole experience, I thought…You can be married and touch starved. You can be having sex and still be starved for love, warmth and touch. Most of the times all we really need is a hug, a pat on the back or someone to really listen to us and “get us” at a deeper level. In my case, all I needed was a good massage, a chat with great friends and a truly sweet hug from my daughter. 

Remember to love up the people you care ask for hugs and to give them more often.

in love and pleasure,
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