I’m laying face down, almost naked save for skimpy skivvies (that be slang for panties).
Can you tell my ass isn’t balanced? I ask, lifting my head.
Yep, this side is more developed, he confirms.
Shit. I knew it.
That’s not good for your neck.
I put my face down. He continues.
It’s not noticeable except that I’m touching it. He chuckles.
The bedroom lighting is dim thanks to an adjustable light switch. I’m slathered in coconut oil. He can’t possibly see too much (I hope) while he kneads my gluteus maximus, which apparently is maxed out more on one side. This imbalance doesn’t bode well for OCD-me. I muffle this through the flannel sheet.
It’s because of my damn hip injury way back whenever.
He asks how it happened. I explain my not-mid-life-crisis-party-trick-splits back in the day when perhaps I actually may have been in the midst of a so-definitely-mid-life-mega-life-crisis. He chuckles again.
He’s rolling out my muesli-dimpled loaf (read: ass) with his powerful hands and an elbow (I think) while my left knee is splayed out and up. I have a distinct awareness of the temperature of air that tickles my exposed tush and wafts under the ill-tucked sheet. Though I wonder if he’s getting the Amsterdamnit show, it feels so good in that ouch-does-this-really-feel-good? kind of way that I ignore my modesty discomfort. Plus, he did do a house call at a discount so I count the view of my va-jay-jay as part of his tip.
He’s a massage therapist. And he’s good. Very good. Though, I don’t go for the happy ending, not that it’s offered, but if it had been, I’d have passed. That’s just not the kind of client I am, folks. Plus he has a girlfriend who wears tartan skirts for him, which a girl (me) really respects. (We got on the topic via more mid-life costume stories.)
If my hip issue is a symptom of my not-mid-(as in I’m not half way through my life TYVM) life crisis, and I’ve had this hip issue for about five years, that means I’m possibly beyond the allotted allowable time for this not crisis. But then again, who f’ing decides what’s permitted for such things? Exactly. I do.
Louise Hay, author of You Can Heal Your Life, writes that hip issues are emotionally related to fear of moving forward. Still? Damn it! I’m moving, I’m moving. With hip pain, with hip pain. Damn it.
Maybe I’m using it as a crutch, this hip thing. I’m no longer Realty Lady so maybe my identity crisis needs a new label, a new storyline. I thought Crazy Lady felt fairly comfortable—and accurate—but maybe I (subconsciously think I) need to be Crazy Lady with Hip Issue. And that’s just crazy. But apt. Whatever.
I get a Groupon coupon for a dentist appointment. Now, I know that I should’ve been all What’s wrong with this dentist that he needs to offer X-ray and cleaning for 35 bucks? but instead I’m all Shut the front door/What a deal/I’m poor!
I must remind you that I’m here in Venice without my vehicle. I’m borrowing Mermaid’s extra houseguest bicycle as my mode of transport, which is awesomely allowing me to eat the extra pastries without nearly as much consequence (i.e., making me Fatty Pants Lady), which I wouldn’t mind if it was all in my lumpy if lacking butt, BUT—shit—I just realized: all this cycling could be contributing to my damn hip issue. Fuckety fuck fuck.
Anyway, the dentist is far, far away in bad-hip-bicycle miles and, by the time I get there, my psoas (pronounced: so-az) is sore and aching.
The rundown building is in a sketchy area. The interior is reasonably respectable if a tad drab, and the cleaning/sales-pitch room I’m in offers flickering fluorescent lighting with multiple layers of beige-patched paint, a big screen TV with wires hanging down, and a framed photo of a Taiwanese woman with braces. Nonetheless, I’m all about the get my chicklets cleaned practically for free.
First, I’m interviewed by Rosalita about my dental history. When she notices I’m from Canada, she asks if I have dental insurance there, which I find interesting but answer no. She does the X-rays while I consider if the laser beam might kill any plaque I’ve got in my now drooling orifice.
Next, the dentist comes in. He’s of Scandinavian descent with an accent I can’t read. He asks me about my insurance as well. I’m starting to get suspicious since I’ve been here for over half an hour already, and I paid my 35 beans—thank you so much—please just clean my fucking teeth, I’m getting hangry (hungry-angry) already.
First, let’s test your gums, he says.
He gets in my mouth with a pokey device calling out the official names of my individual teeth along with the corresponding pokey device numbers. Two, 3, 2, 4 … 3, 5, 6, 8 …
I don’t know shit about dentistry, but I do get my teeth cleaned every four months back in Canada, and my numbers less than 6 months ago were all along the lines of twos and threes mostly. Unless bacon is now somehow made of pure sugar, I highly doubt my teeth have taken such a deep dive in the gum disease arena.
When he’s done, he sits back and looks at me sternly. He says, You have gingivitis.
The word is offensive and my this-guy’s-a-shyster spidey senses are on high alert.
I ask, Is it because I haven’t been flossing enough or because of diet?
He says, Yes.
I sideways glance and frown and raise an eyebrow all at the same time. I’m not really sure what message I’m sending, but he replies by telling me I need a deep cleaning and laser treatment and probably Arestin antibiotic treatment to avoid costly surgery.
Shut the front door. (I’m thinking this but just squinting at him.)
He goes on to tell me I’m a smart woman and too young to lose my teeth, and his office can help me with this, but I need to get on it as soon as possible.
I ask how much it costs. He relaxes a bit and tells me Miguel will be in to talk to me about that. I’ve now been here over 45 minutes and my teeth haven’t been cleaned and are supposedly getting filthier by the second. Time is of the essence, people!
Miguel comes in. I can tell he doesn’t want to do this part of his job because he’s jotting down notes in my file and avoiding the topic. I clear my throat a few times and see him swallow hard.
Finally, I ask him, So, what’s all this cost?
He doesn’t make eye contact as he Spanish-accent stutters his way through his sales pitch. It basically amounts to $500 + $300 + $1500 to $1800 to avoid costly surgery.
I say aloud, Shut the fuck up, then laugh and think, Am I getting a time share with this deal?
Miguel looks at me, half-way grins, and then sets his pen aside and closes my file. We share momentary eye contact that tells me he thinks this is a sham, but he needs this job to put tamales on the table. I get it. I smile back with understanding eyes.
Miguel gets up to leave and tells me he’ll get the hygienist.
Juanita comes in and an hour later—my decaying dentifrice is finally getting water-pick cleaned while spray drips down my chin, and I wonder if I’ll actually catch tooth decay from poorly sanitized instruments. The grainy polish tathe li cack (tastes like cake). I don’t get the warmed neck pillow and cozy blanket I get back at home in Comox (thank you, Floss), but really—what can I expect from a coupon cleaning?
I’ve seen four different staff and figure this bait-and-switch pitch is necessary to keep them all employed. Feeling compassionate about keeping refried bean on their plates, I make no beans about the whole time-consuming event.
I motor on home on empty stomach but with gleaming smile and collapse on my day bed with aching hip. I calculate the time before I can get my next massage, rationalizing that I’ve saved myself from being shafted out of a small fortune by avoiding costly surgery so I can afford an extra dose or two of dimly lit Amsterdam rubdowns.
What have I (re)learned?
1. Only floss the ones I want to keep.
2. If I didn’t have aches and pains, I’d really have to get creative to justify paying for coconut oil pleasures, err; I mean necessary anti-hip-aging therapy.
3. I’m getting so many deals on Groupon it’s (still) saving me into bankruptcy.
1. Add to morning routine: One-legged squats in the kitchen (to build up the lacking side of my butt) while flossing and listening to heal-my-hip self-hypnosis and waiting for my non-caffeine-why-bother fix.
2. Lay off the coupons or risk being labeled Coupon Lady. (Damn it.)
P.S. In case you didn’t get the memo, I’ve separated my elephantjournal (ej) essays from my blog site. If you’d like to follow my ej posts, you can subscribe for those here*kiss*
P.S.S. I’ve been informed by ej that I don’t get “just the tip, nothing but the tip,” so save your coin & share instead! *hug*