Part 1 of 2
This is the first part of a two part series about two hilarious massages I received in South Florida on separate occasions. Read the second story here.
I don’t know if it’s something in the café con leche, the swampy moisture, general Latin passion permeating the culture, or if there’s a peninsular proclivity to prostates I wasn’t aware of—but every massage I’ve had in Florida goes a little above and beyond the behind! To be clear, I’m not dealing with a statistically relevant sampling; we’re talking two massages in the past five years. But in my life’s history of getting massages this represents close to 20%. So you can see why coincidence wasn’t my first inclination and I think I may have spotted a trend.
Some would say I’m immature about massages. Others would probably just see it as a very tight threshold for personal boundaries I try to maintain. Regardless, it’s taken me years of massages before I could become comfortable with the entire process, and yet, if I’m being honest—it’s still a little awkward. And it would be too easy to call me prudish, because let’s be real, when you break it down, the act of getting a massage is weird. You’re paying a complete stranger to touch you in ways that even your significant other doesn’t touch you. This is in addition to the awkwardness of their body parts grazing you as they get deeper into their routine. I’m talking about the occasional “head bumps” where the male masseuse’s penis bumps into your head as he leans over your body. Or the brush of a female masseuse’s breasts dangling across your trapezoids as she leans into a full stroke up your back. For men, there’s always the fear of getting an erection because you’re relaxed and everything feels so good, which is apparently totally normal. Who knew? And for me specifically, there’s the fear of farting in such a zen space where the masseuse has to maintain their composure and refrain from laughing to be respectful. I mean come on! No matter how you slice it, deep tissue, Swedish, Thai, Shiatsu—massages are weird. Amazing yes, but if you’ve got a wild imagination like mine, they can make you very anxious.
Having had them in places where spa treatments are such a big part the tourism scene: Placencia, Belize; Bangkok, Thailand; Bocas del Torro, Panama; Maui, and some of the swankiest spas in California’s wine country, I’ve had some amazing massages. The kinds that leave you relaxed, refreshed and end with the most amazing cucumber water you’ve ever tasted in a quiet room perfumed with the healing powers of lavender and eucalyptus, or just an open air view of clear aquamarine blue ocean from beyond palm trees and bluff. And if you haven’t had the kind of massage I’m talking about, just imagine your significant other rubbing your feet on the couch for an hour with skill, as opposed to 30 seconds with attitude—good massages are amazing. Unfortunately they might be hard to find in South Florida ; )
The first time my faith in the craft was questioned I was in Key West. Jonathan and I were there from Christmas to New Years on vacation with his mother and sister who happen to be massage connoisseurs. They know exactly what types they like and when: Swedish, Shiatsu, deep tissue, Thai, etc. They like maximum pressure (on a scale of 1-10 they want 11), where as I’m a delicate flower and am still trying to get used to six-ish. They have no issues with nudity, where as I like to wrap a beach towel taught across my chest and under my arms until the masseuse leaves the room for a moment so I can scurry under the sheet with enough time to adjust my twig and berries so they’re hidden from view. Jonathan will drop trou at the hint of a massage with a sense of confidence I’m still trying to foster.
We were staying at the Hyatt vacation rentals in a timeshare that wasn’t being used by one of its many owners. Jonathan and his family pretty much always book massages when they’re on tropical vacations, and it was through them that I was introduced to the world of laying naked on a padded card-table so someone can rub oil all over my body as if it were a raw chicken cutlet.
The front desk had recommended two masseuses who made house calls. We looked them up on Yelp and both seemed to come with solid reviews and we ended up with the guy who was available at the time we wanted to get rub-downs.
When it was mine and Jonathan’s turn we came back from the pool where we’d been laying in the sun. Each of us got onto our respective massage tables and I ended up with the middle-aged fat guy. He was bald, sunburned, and sweaty. Jonathan got his colleague, a petite hygienic woman who said she specialized in deep tissue.
Everything started off fine, until my guy started talking. At first he was talking to both of us, and I’ll admit, I have a problem with engaging with people at the least appropriate times. So I’ll take some of the blame for the general conversation that was going around the room. But after about 20 minutes, I shut up, because I knew Jonathan wasn’t interested in all the chitchat. To be honest I was hoping I’d fall asleep and actually have a chance to relax. But the guy kept talking and his voice got more eery and less tolerable with every stroke of his calloused hands.
That’s when he took my arm and suddenly twisted it across my chest. “I’m practicing these new chiropractic stretches,” he said, “I think they’ll really open you up a bit.” I told him I wanted to open up my lower back, not wring it like I was a washcloth. But I figured he knew best since he was the one getting his certification. And within seconds he was on the table with me, using his entire body to manipulate me like I was Gumby. Drops of sweat ran from his forehead creases to the tip of his nose where they fell onto my arms and chest, which was totally gross and made me wince with disgust. Then he started grunting as he pushed the wind out of me and pressed down on my ribs—another technique he learned in chiropractic night school I guess? This was anything but comfortable, and his pedifilic whispers in my ear telling me when to exhale only made things worse.
At one point I was on my back, ready for our hour to be up, and he lifted both my legs and pushed them towards my head. Now it was hard to breath. Everything was exposed down under—the full monty—with a gush of sea breeze coming in from the patio doors across my ass. I felt like a baby having a diaper changed, only he skipped the anti-rash ointment and talc. At that point the towel and sheet had fallen to the floor and there was nothing between me and this creep. He then got on the end of the massage table and put my ankles on either side of his head before leaning into my legs with the full force of his body. This works well for elastic yogis, but my body hasn’t bent like that since I was five. Nor did I want him grunting, sweating, and looking down into my eyes, while his pelvis bumped up against my tush. If someone didn’t know better they would have assumed we were filming something tacky like “Massage ménage à trois Part Dude.”
Afterwards I told the group what had happened and they all very calmly said, “you should have said something” and continued to snicker and giggle.
The Best Key Lime Pie in Key West is at Blue Heaven
After a violating experience like that massage, I needed brunch—a good one! So we rode our bikes through town and parked them on the sidewalk just outside Blue Heaven; a bohemian backyard patio where they “take their food seriously” even with the farm-garage-island decor that is anything but. The chickens walking around made for a fun distraction while we waited for the food we could smell from a few blocks away. Everyone we met and every guide book we read said “you have to get their blueberry pancakes and try their key lime pie.” So we did.
You know what they say about pies, “the higher the meringue, the closer to god!” For this, and the taste of course, makes the key lime pie at Blue Heaven truly heavenly, and in our opinion the best key lime pie in Key West. The crust is good and buttery, and the filling is smooth and rich. Delicious! Oh and here’s a tip. The best key lime pies are NOT green. So if someone brings you something that’s an easter pastel mint in tone, don’t set the bar too high.
The blueberry pancakes were as you’d want them to be: large, fluffy and perfectly balanced between sweet and tart with a batter they make from scratch and blueberries added to order.
I served my obsession with their eggs Benedict, the “Key West Benedict” with pink shrimp on an english muffin and light hollandaise. Very good!
We had shrimp and grits too. Blue Heaven makes it with Key West pink shrimp sautéed in white wine, butter and scallions and they serve it over creamy grits and melted white cheddar with a side of toast made from bread baked in-house.
Bistro 245 at the Westin Key West
And after walking slowly through the feline den of genetic mutation (see cat pics below) aka Ernest Hemingway’s house, we worked up an appetite for some cocktails on the boardwalk. There we could watch the sun set and enjoy some small bites at Bistro 245 at the Westin Key West along the Sunset Pier.
Aside from a life history of the great American novelist and his many wives you get from the tour of his home, it’s fun to get lost in the gardens on property. And throughout the maze of footpaths and trees you’ll find like 50+ Hemingway cats. What makes them Hemingway cats? They’re all descendants of a white polydactyl six-toed cat that was given to Hemingway by a captain he met in Key West. So take a look for yourself…..it’s kind of funny. They have sixth toe!
So back to sunset and our pre-dinner meal. With cocktails ordered, the sun warmed our faces as it set over the ships passing by the waterfront.
For nibbles we figured we’d ordered a few appetizers and share. Being a hotel restaurant, the food was pretty good, and it would have been tough finding a better view somewhere else nearby.
We had the seared ahi tuna with ginger soy vinaigrette, wasabi, and wakame seaweed salad. This was light and fresh. Not super filling, but definitely wet our appetite.
The southernmost crab cakes with chive oil, citrus aioli and avocado salad were substantial and full of crab flavor. Remember, you’re in Key West where they do good crab.
We had a lot of conch fritters on our trip to Key West, the first at a restaurant on the side of causeway we crossed after leaving Miami. Bistro 245’s were some of the best. They’re slightly dense, and yet still fluffy. The concentration of conch bits to batter was almost 50/50 and they didn’t taste greasy at all.
And because I was feeling a little nostalgic for my home out west, we ordered the chicken quesadilla with sweet caramelized onions and a chipotle sour cream over a bed of mango salsa with tortilla chip strips for garnish. Wasn’t at all like what you’d find in Mexico, but for someone looking for an upscale tropical take on the classic, their quesadilla hits some of the spot.
Stay tuned for Miami Massage Mishap part 2.
What are your thoughts on massages? Let us know in the comments below.