Sensitive Subject

When my wife and daughter pulled into the driveway they saw a truck with a bumper sticker, "Off Roaders for Bush." My teenager asked Linda, "Who is in our house?" The thought behind it was that they should probably leave as soon as possible. It was a friend and his wife. I had told her that I'd teach him how to fix her back problem, and from the house came her screams of, "Oh God, honey! Don't stop!"

Michelle wasn't even recognizable to me when we met at a birthday party for one of the grandkids in Granite Creek Park, in Prescott, on Saturday. She'd cut her hair, which before was very long, and besides, I'd only met her in boozy sociability at the home of a mutual friend. Her husband, Larry, is a master electrician and a dedicated hunter and sportsman. She told me about her back problem, and that she's been going to chiropractors and doctors and nobody has helped her.

"If it's the muscles then they won't help you," I said. "One will adjust you and the other will medicate you." When I drink I get reckless, and make promises liberally. When I am in Prescott I am hesitant to just take on the wives of friends ... or anybody else ... as bodywork clients, because I am very aware of the social climate in Arizona, as opposed to Northern California.

Here in Northern California is where we had a revolution in bodywork, and separated from the East Coast style, which concentrated on massage as a sort of medical treatment, with the training emphasis on physiology and biology and a lot of useless crap no massage therapist ever remembers. It's just a way to screen people under the premise that whores are too stupid to pass medical school entrance exams, as well as insinuating that massage is a medical treatment, and thus under the allopathic umbrella. (That happened after they found out how much people spend out of pocket on it. It's way more than on doctors.)

For example, if you look at the study guide for certification, you will find that these are some of the things you need to know to pass a certification exam to practice in Arizona:

Hilus: the concave area on the medial aspect of the kidney; where the renal artery, renal vein, and ureter come into or out of the kidney.

Yellow pigment: bilirubin, a product of red blood cell breakdown, from the blood is converted into a yellow pigment called urobilinogen that dissoves into the urine and gives it its characteristic color.

Erection: a process involving the accumulation of blood in the erectile tissue of the penis due to vasodilation of the arteries in the penis; causes the penis to become rigid and elongated.

A whore would only know one of those and you probably need seventy percent to pass. In Northern California, where the rest of the country projects all their unconscious lascivious material, there is no problem with sexuality, just as there is no marijuana problem in Amsterdam. In rural America people tend to not have worldly attitudes. Michelle, for example, refused to let her husband continue seeing a female chiropractor whose treatment involved suspicious manipulation technique.

And so it was that I handled the situation with a suave diplomacy. "You should bring Larry over sometime and I can show him how to work on your back," I said. It was perfect. I want to have friends, and so the last thing I want is the other guys thinking I'm in some special relationship with their wives. And on the other hand, I do know what I know, which is how to deal with muscle pain.

And so it came to me that what I should be doing in Arizona is working with couples, and showing them how to fix each other's pain problems.

"Larry, is that your hand on the inside of my thigh?"

"Yes it is, honey." He looks at me and shakes his head.

"I can't tell who's doing what," she says.

Linda shoots me a look from the other room, where she's in the process of helping a friend fix his digital camera. "That sounds heavenly," she says. Her friend chortles with appreciation. She likes playing the bad girl for him, and he quotes her famous sayings, such as, "If it doesn't fit in the dishwasher it fits in the trash." He is next in line, suffering from a lower back problem.

Trigger pointing involves knowing the point from which muscular pain radiates, or refers, so that it can be released. It isn't oriental theory, involving meridians. It is a western modality. I have no problem with western medicine, and use the medical textbooks on Trigger Pointing quite often. But I think making somebody pass a medical school entrance exam to do massage is stupid. The only exam you could possibly give that would really give you the information on how good they are is presenting a muscle pain problem and seeing how they handle it, not asking if they know why piss is yellow or the geography of the kidney.

The big surprise to me as I am showing Larry the most important trigger points on his wife's back, relevant to the pain problems she's suffered for many years, is that he's a natural. When I show him how to apply the pressure, and find the trigger point, he learns it quickly (thus his wife's cries of "Please don't stop.") I tell him this, saying, "You have a natural sensitivity."

This is not a good thing to say to Off Roaders for Bush. "Oh, no," he protests. "I'm not sensitive." I see fear in his eyes.

I realize my gaffe and quickly explain that I was not insinuating an emotional sensitivity. "It's the kind of sensitivity you have in your trigger finger when you shoot," I say. "You have to squeeze off the round." He still looks ruffled but his wife's cries of pleasure are real, and it is his thumb in the pocket that is eliciting them. Does he want to outsource this? I think not.

Once Michelle realizes she doesn't know if it's him or me pressing into the trigger point, she knows that he could relieve a problem she has suffered for years, and which is a hole in which their money gets thrown. And as for me, I am delighted to realize that I can show Larry how to do this and he is adept at it.

He might even put up with me teasing him about it without coming to liberate me.

Posted: Tue - September 12, 2006 at 02:57 PM