As another birthday approaches, I count my blessings and my regrets. My blessings are abundant. My regrets nibble at me at night; robbing my dreams. When will I learn that "No." is a complete sentence? I seem to feel I have to agree for the sake of peace, wanting to be liked or needing to be treasured. And so I nod in agreement while my brain screams, "I don't want to!"
Last week, I was supposed to meet with my friend Sharon. I pictured us in a cozy bistro; dishing dirt while stuffing our faces--if we added shopping to the afternoon-it would be a perfect day. Her text shook me awake. "Massage parlor @ 10."
No food, no gossip, no new clothes. Once again my brain screamed to me, "We hate that idea! Tell her no." I texted back, "Super C U :)"
I've been unable to give an honest opinion since my lone kiddy-tantrum in a department store when I was 9. I picked out a purple winter coat that jutted so far out under the sleeves, a sudden breeze would have spun me like a top. My mother chose a brown tweed Chesterfield; sensible and boring. I threw it on the floor and stepped on it. Mom picked it up, shook off the floor dust and bought it. The game was on. She wasn't gonna tell me what I liked! I wore my last year's coat all that winter. Around mid March, I realized two important facts: I looked stupid in a coat too small to button up and the brown tweed with the velvet collar was beautiful.
I'm guessing that's when I decided to go with the flow, unless it involves all night binge drinking or skydiving or a combination of both.
I met up with Sharon at a Chinese owned massage parlor, decorated with such vibrant lilac and red glowing wall sconces, I feared I'd have a seizure from their radiation. While Sharon chatted in Chinese, I planned my semi-retreat. "Why don't I just get a facial?" She answered with a finger wag, "No, no." Obviously she wasn't raised by my mother, since she had no problem turning me down.
Before I could throw my coat on the floor to show my true feelings, a stranger led me to a cubicle and told me to get undressed. I'm not about to tell you I've led the purest life, but naked in a cubicle that glimmered like a thousand sunsets was never in the mix.
I demurely left my sports bra on. Just as I belly-flopped onto the table and poked my face through the porthole, a new stranger entered the room and scolded me for wearing a bra. "Take off. No good." I obeyed as quickly as I could by pulling it like a rubber band over my shoulders and letting it ring my neck like a sagging beige cow bell actually a pair of cow bells.
For awhile every rub felt like a pinch. "Ooh ow oh." screamed my brain silently. My lips clung to my teeth to prevent me from crying out. After all, I was the only green-eyed lady in the place. I had to represent. Soon the pain became friendly, my brain was making happy sounds, "ahh, mmm, yes." The masseuse left and came back with things that made tapping sounds. It took a minute till I realized I was getting a hot stone treatment. Totally wonderful. The massage continued until I hadn't a care in the world or a unkind thought for any one who had ever lived. I thanked my nameless masseuse with a tip.
I tingled as we walked to the dumpling house for lunch. Sharon, who insisted we do this, complained the whole way. "Why did you tip her? They cheated us. It was supposed to be ninety minutes. It was only seventy minutes. " I let her vent. After all, she was someone who could say no and therefore never faced doing scary or too-new things that crop up in life. My weakness is my strength. I get to enjoy new stuff all the time, just by saying, "Super! C U:)" whenever I want to say, "No."