It won’t surprise longtime friends – or readers, for that matter – that I was attracted to my massage therapist.
This goes back a couple of years. I’d just moved back to Portland but had not yet given up going to the gym, despite my cascading physical degeneration.
The offset to the injuries wasn’t restraint, it was massage! This was in my pre-acupuncture days. I’d go every two weeks, occasionally treating myself in an off week.
It took me a while of trial and error to find a guy here. I’d resigned myself to joining Massage Envy up in Seattle, but the closest one to me here in Portland was about 35 blocks and one river away, and I just couldn’t get there. I mean, physically, I could. It was mentally that I couldn’t get there. It’s too far to walk, really, and I think people who overdo it on fragrances and take public transportation are the devil’s dingleberries, so I couldn’t be that guy that got on a bus or train smelling like I’d just had sex with a coconut. So…I had to make other arrangements.
You remember Columbia House?
Yeah, you want to know what’s harder to quit than that? Massage Envy. I think my last conversation with them included the words, “Do not make me come up there!”
Anyway, I find this freelancer that works well with what I need and is actually affordable enough for me to see him every two weeks. Perfect!
As is my habit, I became attracted to him. I don’t know what it is about me – yes, I do – but I can fall in love with just about any guy in a service industry job: baristas, waiters, bartenders…remember Richard? Yeah. It’s a curse.
But I was surprised in this particular case, since it wasn’t an instant attraction and it wasn’t an attraction that developed over the course of me having nothing else to look at as I swilled a beer or two. This was a massage, most of my time was spent face down and when I wasn’t, my eyes were closed. So, no. This wasn’t a physical attraction, strictly speaking.
Now, I don’t want to shock anyone, but I’m kind of a chatter box.
Right?!? So imagine me laying there, head jammed into a horseshoe shaped headrest just chattering away like my jaw isn’t restricted at all. We pretty much talked throughout every session.
That’s what got me.
He was such a good guy. That’s what attracted me to him. How reasonable of me.
Another thing that won’t surprise anyone that knows me, is that I didn’t act on this attraction.
Why, you justifiably ask?
Well, if I’m going to be reasonable in my attraction, not falling for a pretty face but a good human instead…you know I’m going to inject that with my more predictable weirdness.
There are two reasons I didn’t act on my attraction:
First, I really don’t want to be the creepy guy that hits on people in their workplace. Fair enough, right?
Second, though – and I think this is less reasonable than it is neurotic – is Reason I’m Single #74…I don’t want to see my friends naked. Ditto, my friends seeing me naked.
I’m not moving from a clinical nudity scenario into a frivolous situation like dating or recreational sex. That’s a weird boundary I struggle to cross. As a matter of fact, I ran into this guy on the street a few times while I was seeing him professionally and was dependably awkward.
Outside what turned out to be our mutual coffee shop.
Well, you look like you’re on your way somewhere, so I won’t keep ya!
Because the presence of a paper coffee cup clearly implies he doesn’t have time to stand around and talk to me.
The other time I ran into him was at a First Thursday. It’s the monthly art walk in the Pearl District. As a Pearl District resident, I try to avoid it at all costs, but it usually sneaks up on me.
In one such unguarded moment, I ran into Brian on the street and we made casual hellos before I said,
Well, I don’t want to keep you from your friend
…and gestured to the unidentified woman standing a few feet away.
“Oh, that’s just my sister!”
“I heard that,” his sister deadpanned.
“We were just going for a drink, want to join us?”
Oh, no…you go. I wouldn’t want to take time away from your sister!
Because I’m so polite and concerned with a stranger’s vacation experience.
Flash forward to this past Spring. I’ve run into him randomly on the street again while wandering around downtown. Having discontinued our therapeutic relationship when he left town on the ground of vague family matters, it had been at least 18 months since I’d seen him.
Turned out, the reason he’d left town was he had somehow ended up with custody of his child – I can’t remember why because my mind was reeling over how I’d missed this little nugget of personal information. Usually, I hear “kids” from a guy and see this in my head
But I guess that mental imagery also prevents this information from lodging into long term memory,
I tuned back in somewhere around he’s “back in town and practicing again” along with an invite to come back and see him. I explained that I was doing acupuncture nowadays and without missing a beat, this smooth operator suggested we grab a coffee.
Apparently, he had some time to kill before he picked up his…daughter?
Yeah, I wanna say daughter.
Anyway, I talked myself into it – the whole dating a guy with kids thing – because I really liked him.
Of course, it was all academic anyway.
We walked and drank coffee and then ended up at my place. We were in the Park Blocks and I really had to pee!
I ran up to my place and when I came out of the bathroom, all I saw was his bracelet on my closed bedroom door. Myrtle likes to spend time on my bed, so I usually leave the door open.
I saw a lot more when I opened the door.
I thought I should level the playing field, since I’ve seen you naked…
He didn’t even roll onto his back to talk, just cocked his chin over his shoulder.
“And it looks like I’ll be starting with you on your stomach this time?”, I playfully added.
Seems fair, doesn’t it? But don’t worry, you’ll definitely finish with me on my back!
This is not how I’d envisioned this cup of coffee ending. I’d like to say that I reluctantly joined him, but that wasn’t the case.
I did reluctantly let him out of my bed when he reminded me later that he had to go get his…still going with daughter. My reluctance was borne from a general disease with my own experiences in sleeping with people so soon after meeting.
I managed to not say, “Call me”, as I closed the door. But he did volunteer it…not that I felt any better hearing it. There was a brief internal optimistic struggle when I saw his bracelet was still on my bedroom door handle.
Gotta love the Leave Behind.
Don’t worry, you didn’t miss me announcing that I was no longer single. He never did call. Which, really…that’s a good thing. It saved me having to break up with him because of his…I still wanna say daughter.
News flash: I don’t like to share my toys.