Dim lights. The scent of lavender and cedar wood. The twang of a sitar.

A soft-spoken masseuse asking, “Is this the right amount of pressure?”

Yeah ... this was not that.

“Mom, Mom, Mom, Mom! Sit here. SIT HERE!”


A smallish scuffle broke out as my two youngest jockeyed for position, each waving a dollar bill in the air like guests at an unsavory club.

It was Mom’s birthday and the cherubs wanted to buy the old gal a massage. Funds being what they were at ages 8 and 11, a $1 mall chair massage fit the bill. (And the mall has gumball machines. Added bonus.)

“Stop! I want to pay for Mom’s massage!”

Generous, yes, but more importantly, the pair knew whomever’s dollar got spent would be able to take credit for the gift.

A bank of black massage chairs in a hallway in front of a nail parlor was our destination. The smell of not lavender and cedar wood, but Auntie Anne’s cinnamon pretzel, filled the air, which didn’t bother me, as I prefer that scent far above any other.

The boy, winning the battle, fed his dollar into the leather chair his mother had already been pushed back into.

The mechanical fingers didn’t waste any time, digging into my flesh in that weird ouch-yeah-I-think-that-feels-good sort of way.

I closed my eyes and surrendered to the experience of getting a robot massage under the bright lights of The Gap while shoppers streamed around my chair like it was a rock in the bed of a tile river.

My entire body shook as the chair went into karate chop mode. My children encouraged me to speak, as there are few things as enjoyable as listening to someone talk when being shimmied like an unbalanced washer.

Three minutes later, the mechanical masseuse stopped. I got up to leave.

The boy looked at me. He wanted to say something but was hesitant. But then he smiled. It was Mom’s birthday — he could say anything.

“Mom, can I borrow a dollar? I really want to try the massage chair ... and I already spent my money.”

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Martha Petteys writes a weekly column for The Post-Star. Write to her at petteyshome@gmail.com or visit her on Facebook.


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