Swimming: A lot less to think about if you're a man.
A GOOD friend recently celebrated a wedding anniversary. To mark the occasion, she and her husband checked in to a hotel, and treated themselves to a menu of massages and facials, followed by dinner and an overnight stay.
Her husband, she said, wasn't so sure.
"What sort of skin do you have?" the beautician asked before his facial. He gave her a blank look.
"The all-over sort?" he tried.
I once had a massage. A number of friends clubbed together for a special birthday, and bought me a voucher for a local beauty salon.
I hated every minute of it.
The masseuse, I'm quite sure, was excellent. Professional, skilled, calm. Used to dealing with people who couldn't relax. I know I succeeded in testing her patience.
"You need to really relax, or I can't do this properly," she said as she began. I tried. Truly. She repeated herself a few times. Half an hour into what was meant to be an hour-long massage, I knew she was still trying.
I was also still trying. Very trying! And I'd experienced a moment of self-realisation: I hated having a total stranger pummelling away on bits of exposed flesh. I'd rather be at the dentist. Having a tooth pulled.
Of course, much of my day involves sitting at a desk in front of a computer screen. I don't always remember to sit up properly. I do get pains in my back and neck, which I like to try to sort out myself.
"What are you doing?" asks one of my children, as they stumble upon me, upside down in the middle of the kitchen floor.
"Downward Dog," I manage. "What does it look like?"
"I'd rather not say."
I struggle as gracefully as possible through to Angry Cat. More neck and back stretching ensues. After a few minutes, I collapse, comforting myself with the knowledge that my contortions are free, private, and don't involve me stripping off.
"You could take up swimming," a friend suggests, when I tell her about the sometimes-pains in my back.
"Ugh, the thought of it!" I tell her. "Look at the amount of effort you have to put in, just to get into a pool."
She looks baffled.
"The same amount of effort you need to make to be beach ready, you know...?" I wonder if I have to spell it out for her.
Meanwhile, my birthday approaches. My family are at their collective wit's end, wondering what to get me. I know what I want: a laptop riser. No more neck strain. Prevention is better than cure.
Although maybe I'll keep up my weird stretches.
If only so they'll all have something to laugh about.
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