Rick makes an audible sigh from the cushion next to me. I barely open my eyes and glance over at him. The woman is standing on my husband. Feet nimbly embedded on his thighs, slowly shifting weight from side to side, she works her toes into his tired muscles. I smile. Thai Massage.
Typically weighing in at well under 100 lbs, the majority of Thai massage practitioners are incredibly strong and agile. Take Pan. The woman who walks on my husband. Pan is about 4’10”, petite build, and is roughly 70 years old. On first meeting, you are charmed. A quiet smile and gracious bow. “Saw Wa De Ka “she murmurs in quiet tones. She leads you into a low lit room with lovely mats on the floor and gives you soft pajama-like garments to slip into. She silently slips away while you change and just as silently returns when you are ready. So lovely. She starts with your feet and begins with gentle pressure using her hands. But what begins as something akin to a Swedish massage, full of feather strokes and light kneading, quickly becomes a full-body encounter with feet, knees, elbows, thumbs and forearms.
Rolling her forearms across my calves, I love/hate the experience. I’m reminded of my older son’s description of what he called the “stick”. As a competitive distance runner, he had a wooden bar that teammates would roll over his tight muscles – as hard as they could muster – to loosen and relax his legs. Pan’s “forearm stick” technique accomplishes the same and it hurts about as much as when she does a full plank on top of me as I face the floor. Toes planted on the soles of my feet, knees in my thighs and elbows and forearms working the muscles of my back. I weirdly love it. It’s almost as good as when I sit cross-legged and she is behind me and puts my arms straight up above my head and literally lifts me off the ground – by my arms – so my spine can hang freely for a few moments. I weight about 150. Little Pan is not a force to be reckoned with.
Thai Massage can be quite social. Joking and laughing. Not necessarily silent. Lots of comments. “Oh Madam. You need more massage. One hour, no good. Madam needs two hours. Too tight!! What’s wrong with you?” Yeah right. Two hour workout with a hard-body gym rat. Nice try!
And when it ends, I’m a little sad. My body feels amazing. Relaxed, more limber and definitely more “aligned”. I feel both calm and energized. Pan kneels in front of me and quietly bows. “Kap Kuhn Maak Ka.” She thanks me and slips out of the room.
As I get ready to leave, I ask to make another appointment. “Next week?” Pan gives me a toothy smile and nods, “Yes, Madam. Two hours?” “Yes” I reply sheepishly, “Two hours.”
God, I love/hate that woman. It’s complicated.