I got that massage. I knew from Gavain’s website that he was young, sensitive, intuitive, elfin, and, most importantly, cheap. He lives in a big blue bus with Kaseja, a woman with whom he shares a non-licensed counseling practice. They are into aromatherapy, urban Shamanism, human/plant communication, radical epistemology (I can only guess), and music therapy, but, fortunately, not astrology or Tarot—I have my limits.
Gavain and Kaseja ask that everyone who visits their website donate two dollars so they can build a communal household. They say the universe is generous to the generous, so no one need worry about wasting their money. As evidence, they point to a man in Canada who started with one paperclip and, fifteen trades later, owned a house (Donald Trump would be envious). They think such miracles are possible for anyone who believes they are and lives with hearts that are honest and open. I envision them as the progeny of Peter Pan and Andrew Carnegie.
Peggy surprised me some years ago by telling someone that I would prefer a woman masseuse. “God forbid,” I said. “I want a man with muscles like Schwarzenegger’s and hands as big as catcher’s mitts. I want someone who can pick me up and work me like pizza dough. And I really, really don’t want to be distracted by lust.” I finally found such a man, and I went to him a few times with backaches. He said, “Not many guys can take it the way you can,” and I wondered if he had any idea how close I was to not taking it. I imagined that we were in a contest to see how much pain I could endure versus how much he could inflict. But he was good. I knew this because he worked mostly with athletes from the U of O, so I also knew that what hurt in the moment would help in the long-term.
Gavain had hands that were as soft as they were little, like a woman’s. I hadn’t figured on this, and I felt disconcerted, as if he had boobs. I suggested to no avail that he massage me harder, and I smiled when my massage became, at times, like a laying-on-of-hands. With my eyes closed, I imagined him somewhere way there above me, standing in the ether, trying to see into my soul, trying to find mystical insight into what I needed. I couldn’t tell if he was succeeding. I just knew that he wasn’t going to be like the locker room masseuse I wanted; he was going to be…well, gentle, sensitive.
Eleven years have passed since another human being—other than Peggy—touched me so long and so intimately. I realized more keenly than I always do (a hundred times a day) that I miss that very much. I am not a one-woman man. I have forced myself into the mold, but it’s like a shoe that doesn’t fit.
I paid Gavain and left. The drizzle turned to a downpour, and I stopped my bike under an awning. Three minutes later, roof gutters were overflowing above, and street gutters were flooding below. Three more minutes and the sun came out. I continued. Near 15th and Lincoln, a teenage girl was giggling as she played beneath a hose in her bra and panties. Another giggling girl, braless in a wet t-shirt, was taking her picture. I wondered how they could stand the fifty-degree weather. Just as I passed, the camera flashed, and I knew I would be in their picture, smiling broadly at the vision of more adolescent feminine flesh than I had seen in decades. Their youth and beauty overwhelmed me; they could have been frolicking goddesses.
A few minutes later, a much older—but equally beautiful—woman placed her hand on my wrist for balance as she slipped going into the library. I felt her electricity. That is to say, I felt my own electricity that she awakened. As I continued biking, the world seemed softer, younger, more alive, and more colorful, but was Gavain responsible? I just know that I hurt as much as ever.
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