If massage were a compulsory therapy (for the elderly especially), I'm certain the national prescription drug bill would be halved over night. This was one thought that passed through my mind after my Abianga sesame oil all-over-naked-body libation this morning at the Carmel Forest Spa Hotel.
Massage is, after all, a variation on stranger sex. Someone you don't know at all - or someone with whom you have no emotional connection - is given voluntary access to intimate parts of your body for a brief period. The massage worker's hands, lubricated with exotic oils, gently slide from your neck, down the torso side to your hip before a leisurely slide south on a leg to the destination of your toes - and then there's the anticipation of the return journey north. There are endless variations on touching. The receiver's body wants to respond to these joyful incursions - I reflexively gripped my masseur's hand this morning when he kneaded his into mine (he's used to it, it seems) - but you know that must not happen. Flesh and tissue and muscle are plied and stroked, and what could be sexual in another context is here therapeutic, calming, reassuring, healing.
It is in short a simulation of love. Afterwards, the two people involved go their separate ways. And there's no need to go through the charade of exchanging phone numbers. The massage worker's number is in the phone book.
I should advise that the elderly (especially) be granted a national allowance for one simulation of love at least per week - I shall have a word with Gordon Brown. Not only would creped skin experience those famously reduced signs of ageing, not only would ligaments and other connectors become taut once again and muscle toned, but this act of simulation would release bucket loads of happy-making endorphins. The body, ignored and untouched for years, neglected as its commodity value diminished with age, would once again zing with all the manual attention. The phrase "loved up" would acquire a new meaning. And should the ancient receiver die on the massage worker, well - what a way to go! Responsible sensuality is the thing most required for wellbeing. This I now realise, thanks to Abianga.
I hope that this posting provokes a responsible, grown-up response. I know you won't let me down.