Friday, October 22, 2010

"Yeah, I can hear that"*

The hubby and I had our five-year anniversary this past weekend. To celebrate we went to dinner at the restaurant where we got married (it was the first time we had been there since we found out it was haunted), spent the night in a hotel, and got massages.

When it comes to massages, I find that sounds have a big impact on the overall experience. Hands down the best massage I ever had was in Tahiti. If you've never been to French Polynesia (and really, you should make a point of going there at least once in your me, it's worth the insanely long travel time), basically everything good thing you can imagine about a tropical paradise, that's Tahiti.

It was pouring the day we got our massages. The rain was relentless, and even though we got soaked walking to the massage place, the weather created the perfect atmosphere. The massage hut is kind of an outdoor/indoor building (like most of the structures in French Polynesia). So there are doors and a roof, but instead of regular floors, it has raised walkways and below is dirt and flowers, and, well, nature. Not all of the rooms have walls, and the ones that do often have walls that end halfway up. No rain gets in, though, because the thatched roof hangs far enough over the edge to keep the water away.

(This is what the island of Moorea looks like in the rain.)

The ladies gave us our pareos, which are basically small sheets that can be worn in a million different ways by both guys and ladies. Then we drank little shot glasses full of some kind of wheat grass drink, which tasted terrible, but is supposedly really good for you. Then the massage ladies brought us to our room.

My masseuse got started right on my feet, which were freezing from walking in the rain with sandals. As I got rubbed down with special Polynesian oil, the only sounds were the pattering of rain and the occasional rumble of thunder.

In addition to the ever-important sounds, was the awesome smell of of island. French Polynesia smells like flowers, but not sticky, sweet, perfumy flowers (I can't stand that); it has a subtle scent that permeates the island and becomes a part of what Tahiti is. For me, there's no other place that I so closely identify with by smell. The whole experience of my Polynesian massage was just incredible.

The strangest (I won't say worst because things are never bad when your getting a massage) one I ever had was by a guy who either had a cold or was a mouth-breather. The only time I didn't notice his heavy panting was when this really bizarre music started. Most massage places have that relaxing, new-age music, but the song that came on was what could only be described as creepy clown music. I kept imagining I was at a demented circus and scary clowns were stalking me (and I don't even have a fear of clowns).

And wouldn't you know, my massage this weekend started off with odd music. It was one of those nature tracks, which is usually fine, but these ducks kept quacking during it. I wanted to laugh along with the ducks every time I heard one cackle "quack, quack, quack."

Towards the end of the massage, the music turned scary. The best word I could find to describe it was diminuendo because it was like a soundtrack to someone falling down the stairs. Only in my imagination, the person was pushed down the stairs and the evil guy (maybe one of those demented clowns) who did it stood at the top, maniacally laughing. And this scene played over and over again in slow motion until the music changed and I remembered I was supposed to be relaxing and not letting my imagination run away with me.

*Tori Amos