I woke up Friday morning, the first full day of my staycation, 10 minutes before the nice lady arrived to measure my windows for new blinds. Misinterpreting my raging cider hangover as naivety and my unconscious humming of Sha Na Na tunes as mild brain damage, the lady cunningly tried to up-sell me to, judging by price, the blinds used on International Space Station. Insulating against heat, cold, day, night, zero gravity, UV rays, solar flares and meteors, and presumably installed by off-duty Russian Cosmonauts, they were only $2,600 – for two windows. After pausing for a moment to slowly exhale and calculate how many bottles of Vernaccia di San Gimignano I could buy for that sum, I smiled sweetly and invited her to get the hell out of my condo. That ugliness dealt with, I staggered off to a hard-earned Everything Omelet at Keys Café, with extra Tabasco and a side order of window treatment bitterness.
I get slightly crabby when I’m hungover. Little things like seeing eight frat boys parading by, all wearing hats on backwards like glassy-eyed cult members on furlough from the Brothers of Our Savior Saint Douchebag compound in White Bear Lake, make me wish mercy killings were legal. Feeling that ungraceful mood setting in, and being without my euthanasia dart gun and bandolier, I retreated back to my condo to convalesce, indefinitely delaying plans to visit Surdyk’s and buy irresponsible quantities of wine with the money I saved by not being duped into getting space-age blinds. The combination of the hangover and Everything Omelet Coma made me too groggy to even page through my pile of unread Vanity Fairs, looking for pictures of Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightly. I eventually allowed myself to nod off for a brutally brief 30 minutes.
I woke up with a start, the Madonna issue of VF sliding off my still distended stomach, groggier than ever. As I reached for my Blackberry to share this development with the world via Twitter, I realized that I had only about 15 minutes to catch the bus for my massage.
CenterPoint Massage & Shiatsu Therapy School & Clinic in Dinkytown’s old, labyrinth-y, Marshall University High School building, offers massages for $35 per hour. Students give the massages, occasionally with an instructor present, but I had arrived on the last day of their summer session, so the students were far enough along in their training to go solo. After reading, filling out and signing questionnaires, disclaimers and a client bill of rights more thorough than a US citizenship application, I was led into the Room.
For $35 an hour, one shouldn’t expect their massage to include 78 kinds of aromatic oils, faux-waterfalls and a Bose sound system playing Tibetan monk throat chants and sitar solos, but I must admit that I was a bit put off by the warehouse-style massage room. The wide open space was partitioned into about eight sections by flimsy curtains that almost, but not quite provided enough privacy to get undressed, mount a massage table and wriggle under a sheet while keeping one’s dignity. The very wide gaps between the curtains and walls were even more conspicuous when I became aware that the smokin’ hot, blond, U of M athlete that I’d seen in the waiting area had entered the neighboring section and was disrobing inches from me. If had leaned back just a little bit, I would have seen that firm, round bootie in all its glory, but I was already down to my candy cane boxer shorts by that stage, so I thought better of it.
Though I was invited to go commando, which is my favored military euphemism under any circumstances, since I was making a special request for my young, sweet, possibly still innocent masseuse to rub and pile-drive my gimpy hip, I opted not to traumatize her with the sight of my bare, cream cheese white fanny. The candy cane boxers were a regrettable choice in retrospect.
To my pleasant surprise, my massage student was incredibly gifted. She worked wonders on the minefield that is my back, smoothed my arms and legs to the consistency of licorice whips, worked on my poor hip with Nobel Prize-winning fervor and never once commented on my off-season boxers. Unfortunately, her heroics on my hip had little effect, apparently proving beyond a doubt that whatever the crap is wrong down there cannot be corrected by massage.
The excellent value and agreeable people at CenterPoint aside, I was negligently allowed to lurch out of the massage clinic a little too soon after my massage. Not only was I hungover, but now I was also in a physiologically altered state from the toxic gunk released into my system by 55 minutes of burrowing knuckles and elbows. I dreamily wandered the building searching for the bathroom, gurgling like an infant and amiably doffing my imaginary pirate’s hat at passing unicorns, Smurfs and wayward yellow submarines.
Approximately three years later, after letting fly with a healthy Number One and helping to free Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the evil clutches of the Blue Meanies, I finally located and exited the front door. Although by my estimate, I was now running two years, 11 months, 29 days, 23 hours and 59 minutes late, not even a minute later my lovely and forgiving dinner companion Alexis, of local relationship and sex advice fame, pulled up and we were off to impregnate our pores with garlic while consuming the so-called ‘Afghani Spinach Football Pizza’ the at Crescent Moon Bakery. Having just been regaled by a fellow traveler on the stomach-turning failings of Pakistani pizza (served in Pakistan) a few weeks earlier, I was a smidge concerned about how edible the Afghani version would be. But, of course, Crescent Moon’s acclaimed pizza was amazingly tasty and filling, without a hint of the rumored ‘fermented camel tongue’. We ate heartily while musing on Afghani music videos, the art of embroidered, mini-wall rugs and to what degree paddling during foreplay can impact one’s sex life.
Immediately after, Alexis kindly transported me to a party, where, had I been even remotely cogent, I could have finally thrust myself into the local media’s social bubble, but my sleep debt, various ailments and chemical imbalances forced me to cut the evening short.
I limped home, carefully cradling my leftover pizza, and prepared for bed quickly. It was critical that I get as much rest as possible for the following day, when I’d hunt and be hunted by the greatest game of all: beered-up unicyclists.
[End Part II]