So last night I went out to have a chair massage at a place with neon signs called "Queens Relaxation Center." I think I've only been there twice before as the massage tables are separated only by shower curtains, the chair massages are given out in the open beside the front door, they only take cash, and the last time I had a table massage there I was serenaded by a muzak rendition of "My Heart Will Go On." While the song was (and is) lovely, I spent the entire massage trying to conjure Celine's majestic voice.

I believe it was after that particular massage I decided I was no longer a table girl and for these reasons:

1. Getting Naked:
While It's completely true you may leave any and all of your clothing on, convention dictates that you remove at least your main body coverings. This would be fine, I suppose, except it leaves me with the odd sensation that I might wet my pants - or lack thereof - at any given moment. Not to mention letting loose a fart. And a naked fart...i don't even know.

2. Getting Dirty:
Compounding my uneasiness, the nudity welcomes those odd creams, lotions, and/or oils the massage therapist believes will enhance your experience. In truth, though, these goops just leave me with the feeling of being disgusted I'll have to wear my clothes back to my apartment before I shower. And then I'll have to do laundry.

3. Getting Beaten:
Ok, maybe not beaten, but massage therapists can be aggressive. And something inside me refuses to admit to the masseuse or masseur that I do, in fact, feel I am being beaten or possibly tenderized for consumption. I believe the last time - the time with the Titanic sans Celine - the masseur actually mounted the table to torture the knot in my shoulder. It must be some latent asceticism in me that believes this will somehow lead to feeling much better in the end. And then some how I just feel sore.

4. Getting the Sniffles:
Invariably, my nose starts running, and once it does, I spend the rest of the massage worrying what they must think of me for dripping on their (supposedly) pristine floor.

So, in light of all this, I've become a chair massage lady. And, after spending much too much time fully clothed and under the covers in my bed, the desire for  a chair massage drew me out of hiding yesterday.

When I arrived at the Queens Relaxation Center, there were two men sitting in leather recliners with their feet in what seemed like short plastic trash cans. No one in the Relaxation Center fully speaks English, so through a mostly-gestured conversation, we all understood I'd like a chair massage but that there would be a 40 minute wait.

Just feeling accomplished to be outside my apartment, I told the lady that I'd just wait in one of the luxurious beach-towel-covered lawn chairs set up in what I take to be their waiting area, but her face registered disapproval. She motioned toward a bed draped in two pink-and-white striped beach towels, out in the open front room. "You want to try? For Free?"

At this point I just wanted to not to worry about me anymore, so I hopped on.

A man strapped me to the table at my ankle and just above my knee and pressed some buttons on a keypad next to my elbow. It started slowly at first, but in no time I felt I was weathering an ocean storm in a boat filled with golf balls.

From what I could feel, there must've been about six golf ball-sized rollers under the wafer-thin cushion if the bed, and the stopped at such terrifying places as the small of my back, just under my skull, the end of my tailbone, and the back of my knees. I felt sure they had confused the "massage" setting with he "torture" setting. They must have. It's the only explanation.

I tried closing my eyes to put myself more in the mood or concentrate in the fact that this would all be over soon, but it was just so jarring. I felt I was being pummeled by tiny, angry fists from below.

When a rotund gentleman entered the Relaxation Center, I thought surely my time must be up soon. But the man pointed at the bed next to mine and laid right down, covering himself with his coat. I mean, he seemed like a real pro.

It wasn't long before his grunting and sighing commenced. I wondered how on earth he could be enjoying this. There were two options: either he was a masochist, or there is a certain amount of....personal cushioning, shall we say.....required for the beds.

I was just staring to get awkward when the timer went off, and I knew at last I would be free. The table had cajoled my body such hat the restraint hat originally rested above my knee was now around my upper thigh, and the ankle brace was restraining my shins.

An employee came over to liberate me, but just as he got to my elbow, I realized he was no freedom fighter. He was restarting the machine! I settled in for another round of jaw-flaring and molar-gritting.

When my second round was finally up, I was sure I was paralyzed. Surprisingly,though, I could still walk.

"Did you like it," an employee managed, leading me to the massage chair that faced the flickering neon sign in the window.

I shook my head. "No."

After all that pummeling, the last thing I wanted to do was get another "massage." Thankfully, though, this one was gentler.

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