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Caress me down 

In which we review a massage.

I’ve never gotten naked for work, but when a masseuse calls and asks you to review his services — free of charge — dropping trou goes from unprofessional to just another day at the office.

Work hard I did Monday when someone from Eden Therapy and Massage called and asked if I’d review owner George Velasquez.

I arrived in the early evening to find Velasquez sitting behind the counter. Comforted by the fact that he seemed as nervous as I was (how often do reporters critique his work?), he led me to a back room and asked if he should focus on any parts of my body. My right hip had recently started hurting, a running strain, and my lower back felt sore. So off he went, leaving me alone in the dimly lit room to undress and slip under the sheets on the massage table.

I’ve gotten a few massages in my life but never regularly. They’re a treat, a gift I give myself, along with pedicures and fancy haircuts, when life gets me down. Oddly enough, I had been to Eden before Monday and even had George as a masseuse. I vaguely recall other massages I’ve gotten in life but remember the one from him well. Could he stack up once again?

He knocked on the door, came in and started. His touch was firm, but never did I wince in pain. Whenever my mind wandered to thoughts of what I’d write or how I’d review him, his hands brought me back. His hands. They leave you wondering what other powers they possess. Somewhere between the thigh massage and shoulder rub, I forgot about work and melted into the table. I was the clay, and he was Patrick Swayze in Ghost.

My rubdown was of the Swedish persuasion with touches of deep tissue around my hip. Did I leave the table euphorically relaxed? No, but I was in a great mood and slept well that night. Neither my hip nor my back hurt for a few days. George was kind, offering me water and instructions on how to sleep without hurting my joints before I left. But I felt he could have been more sincere. The wall paint, undoubtedly called “relaxing something something,” requisite sounds of running water and music that works only during a massage or softcore porn shoot made for a relaxing environment — or an environment that someone tried really hard to make relaxing. But at $55 an hour, the experience is worth the money.

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