A friend recommended a massage therapist named Frank.
"He's cutting edge, man. You'll love him."
That afternoon I learned that "cutting edge" referred to the way Frank burrowed his elbows into your pain.
Call me old-fashioned, but I consider massage a time to relax and possibly pass out from ecstasy. Frank has an entirely different take. He believes that physical problems come from muscles attaching to the bone or something. I couldn't hear him over my squealing. So it goes.
Here is Frank's method, and I swear to not embellish: He begins with "deep tissue work," or crushing your muscles till you cry for time-out. At that point Frank knows he has identified a Trouble Area, which of course requires extra crushing. That's where the elbows come in.
"There were 1,500 people in my massage school, and not one of them used this technique..."
I found that hard to believe.
Explaining the true nature of "knots," the kind of thing you learn only by divine revelation, Frank would mount you with his elbows and, over your writhing, tout his acclaim in the world of cutting edge massage.
The pain grew so intense that -- still not embellishing -- I had a bad trip. No kidding. It dawned on me that Frank might not be well. He could have been tortured by faceless men who referred to their cruelty as "massage therapy." I started to get woozy and stood up.
"Need a break?" he said. "I'll get you some water."
When Frank returned, I was dressed, keys in hand. I confessed to a headache that must have come from too much healing. Frank asked if he had gone too deep, and I assured him that he had not. I feared mainly that his water glass was filled with napalm.
As I left his house, Frank waved after me and said, "Trust me, you'll feel great in a couple of..."
But I was already gone. I owed a certain friend of mine some Trouble Areas of his own.