Friday, February 19, 2016

Put your big black hands all over me. #massagetherapy

To support, supplement, and (sometimes) torment this penchant for calling myself an artist, 5 years ago I went back to school and got a license to practice massage therapy.  A trade, Mama.  I picked up a trade.

Currently, I work at a very high-end spa in Hoboken, New Jersey.  You only need to know this because it has left me quite fluent in White Woman.  A very elusive and, oftentimes, hard to decipher language.  The following set of random phrases are things that are said to me on an almost daily basis.

Hello, my name is James.  I'll be your massage therapist.

  •  Oh, I'm sorry.  You startled me.  I thought your were the security guard.
  • Wait.  You?  I can't believe they'd even have men doing massages here.  I couldn't possibly compromise my modesty.
  •  I had no idea you'd be so ...tall.
  • Well, look at you.  I know this is going to be good.
  • It's just ...your hands are so ...big.
  • Oh, it's you.  My daughter told me about you.
 These are some of my favorite dialogues:

Old Becky
So, where are you from...originally?

Black James
Boston.

Old Becky
Oh.  I don't hear an accent.

Negro J
I spent years trying to get rid of it while I was studying opera in college.

Old Becky
Excuse me?  Opera?  College?

Or this...

Old Becky
What about your parents?  Are they still in Boston?

Jim Crow
Yes.  They're retired now.

Old Becky
Oh, and what did they do?

Toby
Mom did cancer research at Children's Hospital for 30 years.  Scientist.  Dad owned a block of stores in downtown Boston.  Businessman.

Old Becks
That's something you don't hear every day.  Good for them.

I am good at several things.  Again, fluency in White Woman.  An amazing inability not to return to jail.  And massage therapy.  I have about 4 minutes from the time I introduce myself to someone to get them comfortable enough to take off all of their clothes and let me rub my hands on them.  And I'm pretty damned good at it.  Massage therapy is defined as "the systematic manipulation of soft tissue".  I had a teacher in school add the idea of "intention" to that definition.  The systematic manipulation of soft tissue ...with intention.  Do something, and do it with purpose.  My personal intention is for someone to be comfortable.  
For someone to feel better than when they came in.  
For someone's pain to be lessened.  
For someone to fall asleep on my table.
For someone not to see me as just a black man.
Or gay.  
Or different.
Or wrong.
Or not what they approved of.
For someone to see me as qualified.
And lastly, to always do my job.

 
 

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