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As I was trying to work one day last week, I was having trouble concentrating because I felt like somebody had hit me in the back with a two-by-four.

I woke up with a headache, and my muscles were sore for various reasons — working out, carrying my granddaughter, Kennedy, wearing high heels that I shouldn’t.

After trying to massage my own shoulders, I decided to see if by chance, my massage therapist had an opening. Of course, she didn’t. Neither did my backup salon.

So I took a chance and called a place I’d never been. The woman said I could come right over. It was lunchtime, so I hopped into the car.

You just never know what you’re going to get when you go to a new massage therapist, or manicurist or hairstylist. They all have a different way of doing things.

The woman immediately led me to a room in the back.

It wasn’t exactly luxurious. The room was fine, but there were two little paper towels covering the face cradle on the table, and a beach towel at the end. The woman told me how much to take off (always a little awkward), and pointed to a little clear plastic container where I could put my things. There was no chair.

As I was in the middle of undressing, she came back in. She showed me a box of tiny bottles of oil and asked me to pick one. She suggested orange, and I said that was fine with me.

I lay face down, but I realized I couldn’t breathe. The gauzy material on the table was covering the hole in the face cradle, so I fixed that and waited.

There was music in the building, but none piped into the room. The only sound was the ticking of the clock and nearby traffic.

Finally, the woman arrived. I told her, “I forgot to ask how much this costs.” She left and came back with an iPhone to translate. In English, the phone said, “I will mark the time. What did you want to ask?” I asked it again, and it translated into her language. I’m not positive what language it was, I’m embarrassed to say.

With that settled, she spread the beach towel on my back. She asked me “hard or medium” touch, and I said hard.

The next thing I know, she’s up on the table, kneeling beside me. Well, that’s a first, I thought. It was a twin-size table, so I’m glad I’m not a queen-size girl.

She had a firm touch, and it hurt so good, as I often say to my regular massage therapist.

At one point, she massaged my head vigorously and tousled my hair, like she was washing it. At this point, I wondered if she was making it up as she went along.

Finally, she actually laid her hands on my neck and rubbed, which I needed. She removed the beach towel to expose my back, and then she left the room. “Is it over? Should I get up?” I thought. I was a little chilly. I heard a drawer close in the other room.

The next thing I knew, my back had something smooth and thick on it. I realized they were hot rocks, and they felt great. Then she was gone again. “Is it over? Should I get up?” I wondered again.

When she came back, she put oil on my back. It didn’t smell orangey, but it felt good. A few minutes later, she left.

“Now?” I wondered. She really had my fight-or-flight instincts going here.

No, this time, she came with hot towels, which were heavenly.

At one point, she laced her hand through mine and pulled my arm behind my back. I’ve seen that move in the cop shows when they want to take somebody down.

I wondered if I were on a hidden-camera show at this point, but I figured that wouldn’t be legal in my state of undress.

She did the same with my other arm, but I was ready.

The beach towel went back on, and she started karate chopping my back and legs.

She asked me to turn over, and she massaged and karate-chopped the front of my legs. Then, she picked up my legs and moved them in a big circle together, as if she was using them as jump ropes. I thought she might actually leap in the air and try it. Holding my legs in the air, she dropped them on the table.

“OK!” she said, and laughed.

“OK!” I said to her, and laughed.

I got dressed, a little shell-shocked. When I checked out, the massage therapist was beaming. I told the woman at the desk it was a different massage than I’d ever had, but good.

As I went to the car, I realized something. My headache was gone. My neck and back pain were gone. And I had my column idea for the week.

It was worth it.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or

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