There are many things that people do for relaxation that I do only stoically because for me it's less "ahhhh" and more "ouch!" Pedicures fall into this category and, most of all, massages. I get massages occasionally when I feel there's no alternative, in the way you might finally go to the doctor to address your pesky rash only once you've exhausted all the home remedies you can think of.
Having finally accepted that the dreaded crick was unrelenting and that if I ever wanted to turn my head again, I would need to pay a professional to knead me, I made the appointment. My massage therapist turned out to be excellent. He also turned out to be pretty much cross-eyed. This made our pre-session conversation unsettling. We both tried to make eye contact in a respectful fashion, but, in the hopes that my gaze my accidentally fall in the right place somewhere along the way, I transferred my attention constantly from one of his eyes to the other in what must have seemed a very nervous or downright shifty manner. Meanwhile, his crooked gaze leant him a strangely disbelieving aspect, as though he were thinking, "Old back injury? Yeah, right. Tell me another one."
Still, I was impressed with his work and I emerged crick-free, though feeling rather bruised. And, as one is reluctant to eat anything after having one's teeth professionally cleaned, I was reluctant to engage my muscles at all, for fear of ruining everything. Turns out you have to use your muscles to even get home. Bummer.
Cut to the next day when I was still feeling pretty good and pretty careful. I had dinner with my friend and her remarkably hearty four-month-old son. And that's how I learned this valuable lesson: if you are kind of a weakling and you want to maintain your stress-free shoulders, do not spend the next post-massage evening carrying a squirmy twenty-pound baby around no matter him much his dimples may charm you.
Thank you for ibuprofen.