Rubbed the wrong way |

Rubbed the wrong way

Nothing is better than a back rub after a hard day of chores out here at Clear Creek Ranch. And since I’m always ready to call it a day 15 minutes after work commences, that means I’m in the mood to get the kinks out just about anytime.

My wife works very hard too, and therein lies the rub: who gets the first massage? Because whoever GETS the first one, has to GIVE the second one, and giving a good massage is more hard work.

While we each have the requisite two hands, we have no superfluous ranch personnel we can assign to the task, and certainly none that we want (or who want) to be pawing us in such a personal way. A coin flip, or simply alternating who goes first, would be a sensible solution, but I figured there had to be another way. An automated way, perhaps.

I thought I’d found it at the County Fair: Aqua-massage. One of the demonstration booths had coffin-sized contraptions that I mistook for private tanning beds at first. But no. The hinged top raised and I lay face-down on a massage table, complete with the doughnut-like face rest with (unused) Kleenex on it. That way I could align my spine, breathe and drool, and catch a glimpse of the toenails of passersby in my peripheral vision.

The attendant closed the hinged top, leaving only my head exposed. My ears were covered with headphones that emitted soothing New Age sounds from an album titled “Gong with the Winds.” Immediately, dozens of nozzles sent hard jets of water pulsing up and down my back and legs. It looked like I was in a mini-carwash, but it felt great. And I didn’t get wet because there is a thick plastic membrane between me and the water.

Have I mentioned my bald spot? Well, it’s round and on the back of my head and I often describe it as being “about the size of a drink coaster.” As I lay face down and immobilized with my testosterone tonsure exposed, one of my “friends” decided to take my description literally.

He soon realized that the bottom of his 32 ounce Slurpee is flat and my head is not. I didn’t realize anything, having been pounded into a trance by the dancing waters. My headphones shifted to “Humpback Whale Night at the Karaoke Bar.” I was soon mooing along to modern-day cetacean sea chanties such as the theme songs from “Finding Nemo” and “Sponge Bob Squarepants.”

My “friend,” an inveterate recycler, improvised an adhesive situation using nearby “found” objects: a discarded cotton candy wand and/or a stale cinnamon bun (he isn’t saying which). The 32-ouncer stuck to my skull like a charm. For the rest of the day, in a wide variety of windy situations, I might add.

Unfortunately the Aqua-massager’s price is way off in the deep end, and I’m always on a wading pool budget. I’d want their deluxe model anyway, the one with all the extras, like the built-in directional mirror that allows the massagee to scan the horizon for coasterless cupbearers.

So for the time being I’m opting for weekly appointments with an in-town masseuse. She is a real professional. Her waiting room bears no evidence of recent cotton candy use, and she swears she can afford her own drink coasters.

After an hour with her magic fingers, and assorted potions and lotions, I slip off the massage table (quite literally) with a well-lubricated appetite. And hop in the truck to cruise the local diners to comparison-shop the oily bird specials.

Will my chores never end?


Mike Drummond is a Nevada County writer. You can write him in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945; or e-mail him at

His column appears every other Tuesday, alternating with Gina Gippner’s column, “Just Mom.”

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