Neanderthal Man is a forty-something, ex-British soldier who collects exotic knives and can strip down and re-assemble a semi- automatic rifle blind-folded. Until recently, he thought ‘chakras’ was a Latina pop star who sung about her hips not lying. But things are changing for the card-carrying caveman, ever since he met the Tree Hugger…
Massage, so what’s that all about then? What’s with the poncy oils and rainforest music? Back when I was in the army, we were always getting injured and being packed off to the physiotherapist but I don’t remember any candles or Buddha statues.
The only experience I’d had of massage was one of them free head and shoulder rubs they give you in the Etihad business class lounge. For me, these were all about killing time till my flight was called. Nice enough if they were free but I couldn’t understand why anyone would pay good money to be rubbed in smelly oil for an hour with whale music playing in the background.
Then, earlier this year, I had my first proper massage. I was on holiday at Six Senses Zighy Bay on the Musandam Peninsula with the Tree Hugger – she’s no stranger to the kind of pampering that involves being plastered in exotic oils, scrubs and seaweed wraps so I decided to see what it was all about and booked a 60 minute Oriental massage.
“Would you prefer a man or a woman,” they asked. That threw me, does it matter? Is that a trick question? Is there a wrong answer? “Not bothered,” I mumbled so I got a man. That’s when it dawned on me; I was paying a man to touch me!
The last man who touched my body in an intimate way was the doctor who slapped me on the backside when I was born.
It got worse. I was given a robe, towel, flip flops and disposable underpants to put on. Disposable underpants?! What on earth were paper undies for? How did I end up almost naked in this alien land where grown men pay other grown men to ‘touch’ them? I say ‘touch’ but it soon transpired that this kind of touching was really painful. On discovering that my back was a landscape of concrete rocks, the therapist set to work, vigorously rubbing, kneading, pulling, pressing… it was like hot knives being pushed into my shoulders. Still, amidst the agony, my paranoid mind kept throwing up the irrational fear that this man – who was half my size by the way – would leap on me at any minute with a view to molestation.
He didn’t of course, and afterwards I felt rejuvenated and peaceful.
A month or so later, me and the Tree Hugger were in Thailand. Again, I found myself getting dragged off for a massage. This was the kind where they only do your feet. There’s a special word for it, ‘reflexology’. It was big news to me that every part of your body is represented on the soles of your feet – not sure I believe that my sinuses are going to be cleared by rubbing my toes though. Again, there was a bit of pain but afterwards
I realised that my previously very tired feet were completely rejuvenated. I was starting to get the point of all this massage stuff.
I am now sold on the concept of regular massage. The way I see it, the human body is like a high performance car that requires ongoing maintenance to keep it in tip top condition, like a service every 10,000km. I still haven’t completely accepted the thing about paying a man to touch me but I’m getting there.