We'll get to the best massage I've ever had later this week, (it's at a spa here in NYC, where I am based for a while, and I just went back today "to check" if it really is the Best Massage in The World, and oh man, oh-man-oh-man-oh-man it was), but for now...
It was during my honeymoon, and we were in Amsterdam. My husband and I had just arrived from Switzerland, and were finally recovering after a full, sexy week of influenza.
'Let's have a massage' we thought gaily, as we walked the grey, blustery New Years Eve streets full of seedy looking young male quads looking for firecrackers/pot/sex/all three.
Stupidly, I didn't do what one should do in a forgeign city and a street edging on but not legally in the red light district, which is research it, and find a great spa or something, and make sure it's worth it. My thinking was in Sydney and Melbourne we can pop into any Thai massage joint and generally have a pretty wonderful result, so when I saw a pink sign in a window saying:
Great! I thought. Ripper! Also there was an 'anatomical' pressure point thingy poster, so my ridiculous brain thought, well, they know their stuff.
After being buzzed in, we pushed open the door into what looked like a loungeroom and were met with two very, uh, sexily dressed young women. I say 'with' and not 'by' because they continued putting on their makeup and chatting as we walked in.
My gut flared: GET OUT, GET OUT, EXCUSE YOURSELVES AND LEAVE. YOU WILL REGRET THIS. THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU WANT.
But then, as if picking up on the fact we were about to 360 and flee, they asked us which massage would we like, and come through, come through, etc etc and it kind of started without us meaning for it to.
Husband was swiftly taken up two flights of stairs, which I didn't appreciate because now I couldn't just leave at will, because he'd be trapped up in their attic dungeon not knowing I'd left, and I'd be out on the street in the cold with only my sore muscles for company. I was taken up one flight of stairs into a dark room, where I was told to undress.
'Is there a robe?' I asked.
'No, no, it's just us, lay down, it's fine.'
On a mattress on the floor with no sheet.
'Oh, you forgot the sheet,' I said with a congenial, helpful laugh, my feet itching to leave just leave go go go.
'It's okay' she said, smiling.
'I'd prefer a sheet,' I said, smiling.
She walked out, came back in, roughly threw a sheet down onto the mattress and gave me the kind of smile you might recognise from someone you have pissed off just enough for them to want to now give you a truly shitty customer experience.
I gingerly undressed as she checked her phone and grabbing a towel off a pile next to the door she seemed unwilling to offer, I lay down and covered my arse and back as best I could. Mostly because it was FUCKING FREEZING. Sleet outside, freezing. Hating everything with every cell in my snobby spa-massage-loving body thus far I looked up and saw a giant mirror on the ceiling, and one angled to face down on to the mattress on the wall. The room was painted red and the scent of, well, something very unsavory involving strawberry body oil ("cheap lube" - Husband). There was a curtain to my left, presumably where someone may dance, say, in front of a window to, say, attract a certain kind of consumer for, say, a certain kind of commodity. There might have been a No Sex policy, (I remain suspicious) but there was no mention of no first and second base being prohibited. Cute!
What followed was thirty horrible, disrupted, minutes of lazy, soft, ridiculous, amateur pressing and guessing, her straddled over my bum (Jesus, at least buy me a drink first!) me with my face pressed down onto a mattress that was privy to only Lucifer knows what each night. I couldn't breathe because I was still blocked up from the flu, and every time I put my neck to the side she quickly replaced it face down again. If I dared to ask for more pressure, she would NAIL ME with the kind of short-lived pressure generally used for industrial jack hammering for a few seconds, before I would say in a friendly tone, 'Oh a bit lighter please ha ha ha', and it was back to fairy hands and pixie pretend massage.
After a bit of this, I tried to explain I wanted somewhere in between, and was met with a spicy, 'I don't understand what you mean. You keep changing your mind.' At this point I was very, very ready to walk out. But again, the street was so cold... husband so unreachable and possibly enjoying an actual massage as opposed to the slop I was being served, which I didn't want to ruin for him.
So it continued. She had long nails that left scratch marks in my skin for over a week and every, say, four minutes either her phone would ring, or the piercing GRRRRNNNNNT of the front door buzzer would go off. Yes, she answered the door mid-massage. Three times.
At around the 26 minute mark she did the punch-the-back thing, and said, finished, and walked out. Needless to say, once I was dressed I couldn't WAIT to tip her for her delightful and professional massage therapy. Especially since husband and I both smelled like shame and (possibly, nay, probably) edible body massage oil for the rest of the day.
I kept the card she gave me with my change if you're ever in Amsterdam.
So. Can you top it? Good luck.