I am on vacation (don’t ask where), but I’m still doing massages at my discretion…as if it was any other way. It was after 8pm when someone called to find out if I do massage and ting and I was in no mood to ask him to clarify what he meant, nor to explain what it is that I do. I shouted: Yes, but I’m in a domino game right now! My background was noisy as the dominoes were being ‘washed’ for the next game. He asked: What? I shouted: I’m playing dominoes right now! He asked if I could give him a number for someone else. I told him check the website. End of call. Back to the game. I have to make a list of persons who do massage and ting and put that up too. About two minutes after he called back. I went outside to avoid shouting. I answered the call, but got no response. Apparently he was listening to my background. I hung up. Back to the game.

Just like some folks take work on vacation, I’ve kept many massage thoughts and have more time to muse on them because there is more mental space – someone else is doing several of the things I would have been occupied with, like cooking. I’ve been musing on a business discussion we had in class. One student shared his plan to open a spa. He is a public servant who intends to have a relative run the spa for him and only do massage there on his off-days. He has already started buying equipment and oils. It is the intention of many to open a spa, but the financial resources needed could be overwhelming. Some spas facilitate Therapists by charging a percentage of the massage fee for use of their place. One such is Jacqui’s which opened in June 2014 on the Saddle Road in San Juan. I like its elegant ambience. If you have a client and need to use a therapy room there, you can call 743-6896 to arrange such.

Conversation went around the table and returned to the young man who further added that he also plans to open a sensual massage business. This facility would be equipped with the necessary fantasy toys and things and the Therapists (yes, he wants trained personnel) would be exotically clad with an attitude to please the customer. Everything goes, except sex. He has no plan for preventing such, but declaring sex as taboo would allow less occurrence of it, and Therapists will be able to benefit more financially as they would secure higher prices for the ‘risk’ of being caught and losing their jobs. I like this guy. No, I think I love him. He wanted to know what I think. It’s an awesome plan. My jaw is still dropped from the awe. I said what I’ve always said: if you own a cup it is your prerogative to drink wine, milk, or water from it. So if you pay for your training and choose to use it in a particular way, that’s up to you. He reiterated that he would not be personally involved…until clients start flinging their cheque-books at him demanding personal attention. I’m sure there is a big market for male exotic dancers. Reminds me of the movie: Bad Grandpa.

Class was over, they were on their way out, and the conversations persisted. It was a moment of unbridled expression that I needed to facilitate. One gentleman, whose wife was preoccupied with the topic, blew the car horn. She waved to him indicating she would be out in a moment. He had lousy timing. We were getting into the array of toys needed and learning that the lone guy among us owned a vibrator. Silence. We didn’t see that coming. One young lady asked if I taught a sensual massage course as she would like to attend. Mind you, this class and I have had no form of communication on this matter before. I told her to practice on her boyfriend, and when she feels that her inhibitions have taken flight, she can venture beyond him. That might be the most flawed advice, but no one seemed to care what they revealed so I guess I did not have to care what I say. In the multitude of word there is never any want of sin. It is automatic. Knowing this, our Creator sits waiting for us to apologize. I’ve done so already. The talk went to men’s lack of discretion and the ability of their whispers to ruin a Therapist’s career. Someone said you have to be selective, and never give a first-time client a sensual massage. See what I mean? How do you make such remarks without concern of how you will be perceived (unless you’re me)? Maybe I’ve finally met the right batch of students.

We talk of quality of touch, healing touch, etc., but we hesitate to say that touch is intimate. Our hands carry the messages of our heart chakras, and since we are strangers to what goes on in our hearts, it should be no surprise to us that when we touch our clients we are sending them messages that we are not privy to. They feel intimate these things and they want to exchange intimate things too. And what do we do? We tell them they are behaving inappropriately. I told the class a sensual massage is dependent on the moment and not kinky paraphernalia. I recounted my experience with Mr. Pakistani in more detail. Prior to our ring-liking conversation, when he was lying prone, I was massaging his neck and scalp – pulled his hair too. So it was at the head of the table I was standing when his hands encircled my thighs and began firmly squeezing my legs. I became still. I did not say anything or attempt to undo his hands. With nothing doing he looked up and asked: You mind? I nodded. Yes, I mind. He let go of me. I continued massaging him. I can’t deny that I had unconsciously sent him a message, but in the moment I thought of telling him that, not only in Pakistan, we chop off hands here too.

When he turned over and I was massaging his hand I thought of how far he traveled so that this crystal could be in my aura. I’ve received gifts of turquoise and blue jade, and now a star sapphire was in my space. Blue stones stimulate the throat chakra and keep it balanced. They are good for Teachers, Counselors, etc., people like me who talk too much…especially to (their) children. We are creating with our words and we don’t want to create a mess of lives – though the curse causeless shall not come we still need to use words responsibly. Natural healers are drawn to star sapphires, or vice versa. They are stones of destiny. My client wasn’t (merely) a lustful man who wandered into my space. Wise men do strange things. They travel great distances from their homeland to present peculiar gifts, and it is typical of them to say they don’t know anything even after they would have spent their lives experiencing that thing. So he said he did not know what the stone was, but I could feel its vibration and was thankful the hour of crystal therapy I got while I did a massage for him. Exchange. Maybe the crystal was working from my base chakra up, that’s why he held my legs before I held his hand. Who knows? Afterwards his friend came in from the vehicle, where he had spent the massage time, with a hardcover book with the young lady’s picture on the front. They had a whispered conversation. It seemed the friend wanted me to have the book, but he thought otherwise. They left with the book. The knowledge in the book was not for me, the crystal therapy was.

The young lady whose husband was sitting on the horn by this time wanted to know how she could do sensual massages without him knowing. Well… Look at it from the other side. How badly would it disrupt your marriage if he knows? And, would the disharmony be worth the money you make? She laughed. I don’t think we wanted an answer because none of us had space in our lives for a young woman with a child, if her husband put her out. But we did hear, and to some extent understood that the money was to supplement the family income. I said when a man needs help he will ask (not exactly a principle wives could live by for much of what husbands start would remain undone), and he definitely doesn’t care for financial help from another man because his mind says: penis follows freeness. Any explanation that she got the extra cash as a result of various degrees of touching, but no sex, would not make a difference. In some cases looking at a man’s wife is as good as having sex with her, let alone ‘degrees’ of touching. Making money fast is what massage is expected to do, but building the desirable clientele takes time and often more money than we planned to invest. It is common knowledge that the sensual route can be very lucrative, so it’s up for consideration. We need only remember that opportunity is on the same graph with opportunity cost. Once we can balance them, it ain’t nobody’s business.

While I listened to the students talk of massage like a novelty, I was reminded that our perception shapes our reality. If that perception limited to the information we receive through our five senses, then that is scary. But I am not worried because our experiences chip away at our realities so I know that students will eventually have a series of ah-ha moments that will bring them into a more elevated reality of what massage therapy is. Doing it for financial gain is a start, sticking with it facilitates self-development, and that is all that matters at the end our journey. How much we have grown. I can’t measure the circumference of my reality that massage has facilitated. There are things I have learnt that I cannot remember, and my brain would stagger if I try to remember it all at once. It is this total recall that makes Judgment Day daunting. Since we are superior to angels we could fire those who record every detail of our lives so that we don’t have too much to acknowledge on that day.

I have memories of that include the paid listening sessions with client who came for a massage and a found that sharing a synopsis of their condition felt so good that they chose to continue sharing for the hour. There is the unpaid listening too. I remember visiting a Home and one lady called out to me saying “I want to talk to you.” She patted a stool and I sat. “You know Ms. J died?” I did hear and confirmed such. She went on to tell me that the lady was her roommate and she was very disappointed that the Matron did not make arrangements for residents to attend the funeral. Not sure about the wisdom in that, but I listened…to the same few aggrieved statements…several times. Alzheimer’s is a bitch. And there is the other lady who cornered me to complain about a Nurse. She came from her room to join the others well-dressed and the Nurse asked her to go change her skirt. Why? She said she had selected ‘knickers with lace around the legs’ and the Nurse said it was printing through her skirt and that that was inappropriate for that environment.

As for memories of the financial aspect, I am used to being paid before I leave my client’s presence, or vice versa, but working with geriatrics changed that. There are those persons who misplaced their invoices, or are not ready to write a cheque for the massage they contracted me to do for their relative. I remember expecting a cheque for weeks, but not getting it. When I showed up one day the Nurse approached me and I thought it was to say that the cheque was in the office. No. She relayed that my client’s son said there was a little mix-up, but I am not to worry because the cheque is written and I will get it soon. He was on holiday in Tobago. I see. So I don’t want to holiday in Tobago too? Thankfully, I try to manage my resources. The Matrons have more to be concerned about than I, for too often some of the rich relatives from whom you would not expect such, neglect to bring essential items like pampers, or are too busy to pay monthly fees and it becomes an out-of-pocket expense to keep the Home afloat. But the Matrons and I know that relatives value what we do, they just have trouble showing it in a timely manner. If I was doing sensual massages for my client’s son, he would not have gotten things mixed up, and I might have even been invited on the Tobago trip.

My sister told me their society is geared for advance payment, so the massages I am doing this month would have been paid for last month. Attractive. Is that a hint that I should head for other shores? Considering… If you call my number and TSTT says I’m out of the service area, you’ll know that I’m in that better place. No, not heaven. I could see the two of us in swimsuits, sarongs, and wide brim hats soliciting on the beaches and doing aqua massage in the sea with the client sandwiched between us. Sensual? No. We’re transferring our body heat to the client to keep him/her warm and receptive to the treatment. It’s biblical. King David had a very young lady sleep with him to warm his body. Different is has its appeal. Tourists expect something different when they visit the Caribbean. Let’s not be all uptight. Remember that Therapists are a peculiar people. Today’s Aromatherapist is yesterday’s Witch whose practice was outlawed and those who sought her services often visited under the cloak of night for obvious reasons. A sigh of relief will sweep across the nation if/when sensual massage becomes a standard form of therapy. Banks will offer loans to set up practice, massage schools will make claims of having the best curriculum on the erogenous zones, and more lingerie stores will appear as therapists gear-up to entice. Much economic activity is hinged on this industry yet we delay/deny it.

Those who have lived in, or visited countries where prostitution is legal know that we are making a fuss about nothing. It robbery for a client to pay for a bare massage, when a massage and sex by a prettier therapist, can be had for half the price. I was emphatically told this by a client. I remember a man calling to inquire of the massage class for his wife. When she showed up she was the prettiest thing you ever saw, but she required individual attention as she had a literacy problem. Her mother died early in her life and she was working scrubbing floors when her peers were in Standard One. It was a Nurse of took her in and tried to make something of her, but puberty kicked in and she developed other interests. Many in our society can speak well, but pen and paper aren’t their friends. I always remember my mother saying that she was 14 years old and could not spell toy. Her mother died while she was an infant and an aunt, who had no interest in her education, became her caregiver. Her father did not visit often, but having realized the plight of his teenage daughter, he paid a retired Teacher to give her lessons. After only two months of classes the lady died, but what she taught revolutionized my mother’s life setting her on a different path. Hence my soft spot for those willing to make an effort.

As our communication got better with time, one day she told a long story of being pregnant and waiting on bar stools at hotels for clients. She did sensual massages for them briefly as foreplay. Prostitution was her real profession. Shocked as I was I could not react in a manner that would disrupt this therapeutic moment. She desired a change. Her husband had no guarantee that she would not sleep with her massage clients, but it was a start and he supported her. Her husband said had he told her there was written work she would have never shown up and he did not want her to stop before she gave herself a chance to start. I had to read each question and answer aloud for the exam. She recognized what she heard faster than what she read. It was challenging for both of us, but she successfully finished and gave me an extended hug. While there are husbands who will not hear of their wives doing sensual massages, there are those whose wives are prostitutes and they remain supportive. So I’ve met at least one person who was in that industry and wanted to get out, and at least one person who is tempted to get in. The justifications are all noted. Life remains personal. As we grow and our reality changes, we will decide what to add or subtract from our practice. Once we are at peace with our actions, to God be the glory.