For weeks now, I’ve been getting random calls from random people asking me about my “spa”.
It all began when I had the brilliant idea to combine the Jewish Meditation coaching that I practice, with a massage of the shoulders and upper back.
There is an inherent connection between the body and the mind — think stressful thoughts and you’ll notice your body tensing. Induce a state of physiological stress in a person (with adrenaline injections, for example) and their thoughts will start racing as well.
It makes sense, therefore, that if you really want to relax, you’re best off relaxing both your body and your mind at the same time. I recently experienced my first official massage. It was great, but I had to fight the constant urge to think about my upcoming tasks and schedule — anything but actually experience relaxation.
Relaxing deeply through meditation allows you to connect more deeply with your emotions. You’re able to bypass your inhibitions and “critical mind” and figure out what’s going on inside. What do you feel about an issue? What’s the root of that habit you can’t seem to kick?
The really cool part is that sometimes, when I massage a specific pressure point while a person is deeply relaxed, it stirs up specific images and emotions related to that point of tension. This is an example of how intertwined our physical and emotional worlds are.
I had practiced this combination of meditation and massage on a several friends and family members and had gotten really positive feedback. It was time to make it big.
So I contacted Groupon.
Groupon has a list of thousands of subscribers who get daily emails with discounts to different businesses and establishments. Groupon’s model takes a percentage of the profits that the promotion yields, which means it was a great way to promote my venture with no upfront advertising costs.
I pitched them my treatment method — unique combination of meditation and massage, to achieve unprecedented levels of relaxation. They were skeptical about how appealing it would be for their customer base, but agreed to run a trial campaign.
I met with them and explained what made my business unique: how it allowed for profound personal growth, how it was very much not the traditional massage experience with oil and nakedness and bears oh my, and they said they understood perfectly and created a page with the following image:
Which expressed, in shiny pink detail, everything my venture wasn’t.
The offer took off with a resounding squeak. Very few people purchased the deal. In retrospect, this was probably not the best platform to advertise on — people visit Groupon to find discounted hamburgers and pampering facials, not to tackle their biggest life issues head-on and tell me about their mother.
But I got a fair amount of telephonic inquiries about the location and availability of my spa. The text on the page clearly details that there is no spa. But if a regular picture is worth a thousand words, a picture of a partially-naked lady is worth a lot more, and there were less than 500 words describing what I do. It got to a point where I would answer the phone and say “Ah, you’re calling about the Groupon? Let me explain…”
The Phone Call
One day, I got a call. A young man was on the phone. He wanted to know what kind of massage I offered. I launched into my spiel about personal growth, relaxation, the mind body connection and the transformative power of meditation. When I finished he asked:
“Do you give happy endings?”
Now, for those who don’t know, let me ruin your innocence by explaining what a happy ending is. A happy ending is a massage wherein a male client is, erm, massaged by a masseuse until he climaxes.
For several seconds I couldn’t speak. My mind raced through all the alternative meanings of the term “happy ending”. None fit the massage context which we were currently discussing.
I managed to splutter out an indignant “No”. He thanked me for my time. We hung up.
I composed myself shortly thereafter and wrote an outraged text message, which read something along the lines of “What part of ‘fully-clothed shoulder-area massage’ do you not understand? You need to cut it out and stop wasting people’s time.”
I pressed send.
A message came back almost instantly: “We are unable to deliver the message to the phone you selected.”
He had called from a kosher phone.
A lot can be concluded from this interaction. About the current state of Orthodox Jewry. About how exceptions are not necessarily the rule. About the stupidity of kosher phones.
But I’ll leave that for you.
Here’s one thing that stuck me from the experience. As a man, I am naturally inclined to sexualize women. It’s part of my biology. What I choose to do with that can be argued along the spectrums of morality, religion, and psychology. But the urge is there.
As a man, it is a lot less common to experience this overt sexualization. The whistles, car honks, pickup lines, and manipulative conversations are something that the female species usually spares us. This was a unique experience for me. And it afforded me a brief glimpse into what it feels like to be confronted with a direct sexual request that transforms you into little more than an object for another person’s gratification.
It did not feel good. I felt violated. And finally experienced myself what women experience on a daily basis, and I’m glad I did. I can’t guarantee it will change my behavior, but at least now I know better.
So thank you for the enlightening experience Mr. Happy Ending.
I hope you get herpes.