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Massage Mishaps: The Day the Office Was Possessed

Several ages ago, This Author worked in a high-end day spa where clients could get massages, seaweed wraps, eucalyptus showers, and lots of other treatments. On one fateful day, a strange thing happened, and I'm going to tell you about it.

Before This Author was the fabulous example of highly-skilled massage therapy you know and love, she worked in a place that catered primarily to Ladies Who Lunch. Many were women who would schedule a massage to kill time before they get their nails done, and get full-body exfoliations every three weeks plus a "detoxing" seaweed wrap to suck out the ick they imagined was floating around in their tissues.

One of the many treatments the day spa offered included a "color shower," in which the walk-in shower bathed the clients not only in a a truly eye-watering combination of eucalyptus and mint-infused water, but also colored light that went through a precise cycle: Red, white, green, turquoise, red again, and then violet. Programming the lights was a challenge This Author usually left to others.

poofy multicolor puffs

We were trained on the use of the elaborate shower system, of course. The controls were similar to that of a complicated microwave, with buttons that were quite flat and all set behind a waterproof sheet of plastic.

When we (the therapists or estheticians) had to change a setting, we had to enter the shower stall, crouch down, and tap the buttons by the light of a strong flashlight, since they were nearly invisible. This will matter soon. The shower also featured several high-powered (and rather ominously loud) steam nozzles, which would fill the shower cubicle, and usually the massage room as well, with thick steam. We often used the "steamer" during winter months to help relieve clients' congestion, and we all became familiar with the "ch-ch-ch-ch-FWOOOOOOOSHHHHHHHH" of the steam nozzles as they prepared to make the inhabitants of the room feel like pork dumplings.

The last of the features of this remarkable shower was an AM/FM radio. Presumably, so one could listen to smooth jazz while washing off the remains of a seaweed wrap or a salt scrub. We never used it, since the spa already had (hideous) piped-in music in all the rooms. No, really, the music was heinous. Think "Swan Lake" done on steel drums, with a kicky little countermelody on panflutes.

One happy Friday afternoon, This Author was giving a regular, standard massage in one of the massage rooms with a steam shower in the corner. As usual, the lights were completely off and small votive candles burned in clear glass holders on several glass shelves. The music played quietly, and my client was face-down blissed-out. Without warning, the room was bathed in dark, creepy red light and flickering candle flames. Suddenly, I was Satan's massage therapist.

But then, as soon as it happened, it went back to normal. This Author shook her head a little, assumed that she'd briefly been possessed, and went about her business. Nice, calm massage. Relax relax relax. Until a terrifying SWOOSHING sound started, bringing along a gust of patchouli and lavender. The client stayed blissfully asleep, somehow.

But then, steam began pouring out of the many nozzles into the now-bright-turquoise room. Flinging the door of the shower cubicle open, crouched in clouds of steam, I poked wildly at the buttons, turning off the lights, then continued to poke around in the dark, finally managing to turn off the churning steam. The client was reassured that it was merely a malfunction of the steam apparatus, and was soothed back to blissful quietude, but This Author was deeply unsettled. I took another quick moment to dash to the door and poke my head out into the hallway. Seeing no signs of panic, no fleeing ghosts, no menacing demon lords, I returned to my task.

Then, the Last Straw.

A few minutes later, from far below their feet, there was a strange popping sound and all hell broke loose. SHOOOOOOOOOMMMMM! went the patchouli-scented steam nozzles. RED! WHITE! OFF! TURQUOISE! OFF! VIOLET! RED! OFF! RED! OFF! RED! went the lights. ". . . everybody! C'mon on down to Buffalo Wild Wings! It's half-price wings all night, and all of us at WKAR are gonna be there live from now until close!" went the radio. The shower turned on, then off, all the while billows of steam filled the room. Giving up all pretense of professional calm, This Author ran to the door, stuck her head out and yelled, "Somebody help! The steam shower is possessed!"

Not a soul came to my assistance, so I went bravely back into the fray, hurried my client into a white robe and slippers and practically yanked her out into the hallway, leaving the shower to its own terrifying devices.

Then, thankfully, we heard the thunder of approaching feet. One of my favorite people, another massage therapist, looked at me with wild eyes. "We've been hit by lightning! Didn't you hear? Didn't you notice?" My client and I looked at each other and shook our heads. "The strike went through the power lines and the fuse panel just exploded in the basement! Get out! We have to evacuate! I didn't see you outside and came to find you!"

We grabbed the client's clothes, my purse and keys, and ran for it as though the steam-snorting hounds of hell were at our heels.

Outside, the client shimmied into her clothes behind a protective pine tree, got a hug and the promise of a free massage once the smoke had cleared (literally), and I, finally sure I wasn't being punished for my misdeeds, thanked my friend profusely for not leaving me to burn to a crisp, and went to Buffalo Wild Wings. I mean, it was half-price wings until close, after all.

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