Sunday, August 18, 2013

Knead to relax

We moms don’t get enough time off our feet. We’ve been chasing after our kids since the day they were born, and boy, are our feet tired. So for my birthday earlier this month, I knew exactly what I wanted to do — get a foot massage.
I’d seen signs at a local spa advertising “foot reflexology.” My only other foot massage experience until then had been a quickie rubdown while getting a $20 pedicure, so the thought of someone noodling on my feet for a whole hour sounded like just what this mom’s feet needed.
Just walking into the spa was relaxing. The lights were turned down. That anonymous New Age “spa” music floated through the air. The sound of a waterfall trickled in the background. There may have been some kind of aromatherapy thing going on as well.
OK, so I was at a strip mall, not Sedona. The waterfall was a Costco-type plug-in model, and the music was canned. I didn’t care. Someone was going to spend the next hour exclusively devoted to my feet, no questions asked.
Unlike the guy at the walk-in nail salon who quizzes me about my job while he does my toes, my foot massager remained completely silent. Fine by me. I didn’t want him to get distracted. My feet were not there to make friends.
I lay back in a cushy recliner, but to my surprise, the foot massage started at my head. My scalp was rubbed. Strong fingers pushed down hard on my temples, as if to inspire deep thoughts. Or squash them. My neck and shoulders were squeezed and pulled. My arms and hands got a thorough massage as well, which anyone who spends 40 hours a week typing will really appreciate.
Flipping me over like a pancake, Massage Man grabbed and twisted the muscles on my back and shoulders like he was kneading bread dough. He cracked my back. In one move I call the “mugger,” he grabbed my shoulders and arms like he was about to shake the sense out of me, but then quickly let go. Grab and release. Grab, release. I didn’t know whether to laugh or brace for impact.
The foot part of the massage included plenty of rubbing and prodding. Massage Man played a reflexology version of “This Little Piggy.” He gave the soles of my feet a knuckle sandwich. He slapped the bottoms and the tops of my feet as if to say to them: “Bad feet. Baaaaad feet.”
All of this poking and prodding was starting to give me the giggles. I realized I was paying good money to be completely manhandled by a stranger in a dark room. I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain this to Mr. Huffman.
After my appointment was finished, I floated to the front desk to pay.
Feel good? asked the receptionist.
Mmmmhhhhh, was all I could say.
You’ll be back, she said confidently.
Yes, I thought. My feet will be back.

Sunday, August 04, 2013

Who me, serious?

I’ve decided I need to lighten up. I am entirely too serious.
I think it’s a Mom self-preservation thing. Three teenagers, a full-time job, a husband, a mortgage, car payments, college funds — not to mention the five rabbits multiplying in the backyard — this so-called “Serious Mom” has some serious responsibilities.
Well, I’m sick of it. I need an attitude adjustment.
It came in the form of my brother, aka Uncle Chris. Uncle Chris is kind of cuckoo — and I mean that in a good way. He’s also zany, off the wall and occasionally bizarre. I guess it’s the artist in him. Or that he’s Buddhist. He doesn’t take life too seriously, and this was just what this Serious Mom needed.
It just so happened that Serious Mom, Uncle Chris and our families spent the past week together at the beach.
Unlike Serious Mom, Uncle Chris doesn’t mind horsing around, roughhousing or inventing new WWE wrestling moves. And there’s no better place to demonstrate his original take-downs than at the beach. On my 6-year-old nephew. Ever heard of the Pizza Cutter? The Lumber Jack? The Double Avocado? Then don’t get in the ring with Uncle Chris.
Serious Mom packed sensible hats for windy days by the surf. Uncle Chris brought a giant pink sponge cowboy hat from Knott’s Berry Farm. When the wind picked up, he wrapped a plastic bag around his hair like a hairnet and sang his own version of “opera.”
Another day at the beach, Uncle Chris announced a rock-hunting expedition. Let’s find as many green rocks as we can! The green rock search eventually dissolved into more wrestling moves on the sand. Even Serious Mom jumped in on a dog pile at one point. Later we invented our own vaguely German-sounding language, which was completely hilarious at the time. Yeah, you had to be there.
Uncle Chris might have gotten some of his goofy genes from Grandma Sue. She had the genius idea of bringing bubble wands to the beach house, and one afternoon we unleashed a torrent of bubbles throughout the neighborhood. Each passing car was treated to a bubble salute and group wave. Some drivers waved back, but others just stared straight ahead as if to say, “Do not make eye contact with the crazy people blowing bubbles on the street.”
It was working. I was getting my sillies out.
Our girls were getting confused.
Mom never acts like this at home, they said.
I know, I said. This is great, isn’t it?
They didn’t look too sure about that.
Our week at the beach house ended way too soon. Before long we were on the road and back to our Serious Life. At home I unpacked the sandy towels, put away the beach chairs and buckets and started sorting the piles of dirty laundry.
I should have kept that pink cowboy hat.