The Massage Vendor's "Ultimate"
Dedicated to my favorite southern belle
I know a wonderful girl living far from her hometown and the people she grew up with. She has made a wonderful life for herself with the ones close to her. But I know her secrets; her innermost thoughts and desires. For instance, I know she has compassion for the underdog, patience with the weak and weary and loves a good foot massage. She once confided in me that a man gave her a foot massage with so much intensity, so much passion, that she never wanted to stand on her feet again. The man bore his soul into his work like an artist.
When you hear beautiful music and the cellist is playing his heart and soul into the music and you are holding your breath to hear every note, you know the cellist has you under his spell. This man is like the cellist. He incorporates every fiber of his being and even recruits his eyes to add another dimension to the effect his massage has on the uninitiated. She could sense something about the man, too. Something that intrigued her, that brought her back again and again.
By the end of that massage she had made up her mind, of course, that she would stand again. But what an exquisite experience. Four days after their first encounter at the little stand on the corner the man called the girl and she agreed to come back for another foot massage. It would be the best thirty-five dollars she'd ever spend reasoning her feet need the work. She was on her feet a lot, there was a lot of stress at the office and the gym was a jungle, too. Why not?
How she came to get the massage four days earlier is a story she loves to tell. While on an errand to her favorite dress shop to pick up her order she met the ultimate vendor. On his corner of downtown his customers range from busy shopkeepers to business managers and CEO's and even the occasional newsboy, although they're not boys. She was coming out of the shop and heading to her car parked directly in front of the massage vendors stand. A customer stood up to pay and a receipt fell from his pocket and was carried by the wind and dropped at her feet. It laid there glued to the sidewalk. He followed the paper's flight with measured haste so as not to draw undue attention. He leaned to retrieve the errant document but stumbled into the girl causing a considerable jolt. After collecting his document he helped her to her feet and apologized for his clumsiness. " That must be very important to you", were the first words from her mouth. He again apologized and explained it was an address and phone number and it was important. "I am so sorry.", he finished, expecting her next words to be angry and ugly. There were no words. She was content to load her car and leave. He insisted that she allow him to make up for the incident with the most incredible service the city has to offer. He convinced her to have a foot massage and, in way of apology, it was his treat.
He was not forceful but persuasive and politely lead her to the massage chair. She took the chair and discovered what sheer luxury it was to sit in. The chair was as comfortable as the seat of a Rolls Royce. Every chair setting has its own power button adjustment. The chair offers lumbar support, climate control for ventilation, thigh support, arm rest height adjustment, shoulder seatback firmness control and much more. With kind coaching from the gentleman she tailored the chair for her contours. One last item he recommended was the black satin eye mask for the ultimate experience.
Seated comfortably, mask in place, the experience of her life was about to begin. First she felt her shoes being taken off and a man with very broken English say, "We never lose a the shoes. We take a good care". She cracked a smile and sunk into the soft, relaxing aniline leather. She felt firm, confident hands roll up both pant legs to just above her calves. One foot was placed on the work stool while the other was drowned in warm water to soak and soften in a lined vibrating bath. The familiar voice chimed, "They switch place later". And then the hands of God took her feet and she floated on a cloud. His hands erased her stress and anxiety away. Her collision was forgotten along with the list of chores and tasks that constantly battle for her time. She felt like a bird on the wing with nowhere to go and no place to be. The cage door was open and she was in flight and soaring.
The vibrating foot bath stopped and she was gently stirred to consciousness. Her first observation was the bath water had switched position, but she was told to expect that by the old man. He was holding her freshly polished shoes. Her pant legs were rolled down, a crisp towel was under both feet and they were already dry and powdered to help with getting them into her shoes after her treatment. Every detail in the process was impeccably orchestrated. She looked around for her benefactor whose strong, willful insistence had resulted in a world class experience, but he was gone. The old man smiled and she opened her purse to hunt for a tip. The vendor reached forward slowly and put his hand on her arm timidly and said, "Your friend do that, too. You catch up your day. My card". She put his card in her purse and left for home.
The rest of the day and evening she couldn't get the stranger out of her mind. A freak accident with no serious consequences had resulted in an unforgettable treat. She set out the dress she had picked up earlier and did the usual routine of hair, makeup and scent, finished dressing and was out the door. Arriving at her destination she parked the car and checked in the mirror one last time before greeting the public.
As she approached the mountain of steps that rose to challenge her entrance into Observatory Hall she thanked her benefactor for the foot treatment. She doesn't know how she would navigate the cascading tower of broken and cracked concrete without the days lesson in flight. Her feet led her up without incident and almost without effort. At the top she turned around to take in the view that her ascent elevated her to. "Wow!!!", she thought, "Don't think I could have done it like that yesterday". When she turned to face the entrance and the pilgrimage being made to support the Observatory it appeared the evening fundraiser would be a big success. She joined the caravan of people heading inside and recognized one tall distinguished man and called to get her benefactor's attention.
They met at the ticket counter and exchanged greetings and as he handed his ticket to the man behind the counter she reached out to recapture it after noticing the back. On the back of the ticket is her phone number and address and she realized it was the same paper that was at her feet when they met in the street. "Can you explain this?" she insisted. "It would be my great pleasure", he insisted and took her hand in his firm, confident grip as they stepped away from the crowd that was gathering at the entrance.
On the planetarium's side garden deck he asked, "Is this number and address familiar for you?" She responded, "That's my unlisted number and home address. Why do you have them?" He then confessed what had happened in the morning before meeting her and after.
In his best English he said, "There is a hot truck serving morning food and drink at the corner where we bumped this morning. The shop owner I know in line ordering a quick meal to take to work same as her busy life. She is very busy lady, no time for food before leave for work. When the shop owner is paying she see her wallet and store keys are left behind in house. She make plan to start early morning to catch up on things around her dress shop but her plans now they are spoiled. I pay and make phone call to my father nearby and he will help. The shop woman she call her friend to meet my father and my father get wallet and keys. While she wait I give her foot massage same as yours."
She said, "What do you mean, 'You gave a foot massage' "? He explained, "My father is retired and I have taken over family business. I could not stay for end of your treat because I had appointment with my tailor". In disbelief she said, "But you were paying the man when this ticket blew out of your hand". He explained, “My father he is old fashioned and insists on being paid for everything and giving receipts and declaring all income. He loves America".
I have ticket because the dress shop woman insist I have something for her massage. I agree a dance ticket would be useful to me. In my home country I spend many times dancing in my small town. I should like to try that in America." "She asked, "Why did you leave and not tell me"? "He said, "I could not disturb the sleeping beauty and I have tailor appointment to fix my coat and pants for dancing. Can we dance now?"
The two spent their lives dancing together. And whenever she wanted to leave her earthly bonds and forget about her chores and responsibilities and take another lesson in flight, she would ask her husband to give her the "ultimate".
Bill J Murphy Copyright September 20, 2010