Whenever I’ve walked around a mall I’ve always smiled at those who have taken off their shoes and are sitting in a massage chair at a store like Brookstone or Relax the Back. They all looked so relaxed, and so thankful for the free massage. I’ve tried these chairs myself when available and have always liked them. But whenever I mentioned to my wife that I’d like to get one, she’d give me her patented look that basically translated to: “Over my dead body.”
Now, why would she feel this way? “They’re too bulky, they look like space capsules, and I prefer real hands to rolling wooden balls.”
But then my wife decided that our couch was falling apart and she wanted to replace it. So, we went couch shopping, and found one that was ten inches smaller than the one we had. When it arrived, we noticed that our TV room suddenly looked bigger. And there was this new empty area that could be filled with something I might like. “Look, now I can get a massage chair,” I said. “For my birthday,” I quickly added.
I went online and Googled “10 Best Massage Chairs.” Up came many of the familiar name brands along with one I’d never heard of. It was a chair developed by doctors and made to soothe patients at hospitals, and was highly rated and had some of the best consumer reviews. Apparently, it was so successful that different models were created to be sold to the general public. Since they had a showroom in the San Fernando Valley, I went there with my wife, because I wouldn’t dare buy something like this without her approval. The first chair she sat in rubbed her the right way! I saw how she closed her eyes, how she smiled, and how she seemed so at peace. “I like this one,” she said.
“This model is being upgraded,” we were told by our knowledgeable technician. “We’ve added a full body stretch, more airbags, and foot rollers to the new model.”
We took the plunge, purchased the upgraded model (that was still within our $2000 price range), and waited for it to arrive a few weeks later.
I have to admit, I was looking forward to this the way I remember anticipating getting a new bicycle or baseball glove when I was a kid. I’d been wanting a massage chair for years, and finally managed to get my significant other on board.
For the first week after it arrived, I just played around pressing the various buttons, as the chair stretched me, twisted my waist, enclosed my calves, and rock-and-rolled my feet. I then learned how to increase or decrease the various intensities, how to manipulate the foot section to get it “just right” for my body, how to use the timer to increase the massage from twenty to thirty to forty minutes, or reduce it to just five (as if one would ever want just a five-minute massage. That would be like eating five potato chips and feeling satisfied.). And the best thing about the chair was not what it did for me—it was what it did for my wife! She not only liked it, she loved it! We have disparate tastes in many things, but now suddenly we had something we could both enjoy.
I’m happy to report that the Internet didn’t let me down, as it so often does when you use it to investigate a potential purchase. I don’t know if any massage chair can replace a masseuse’s hands, but this one comes darn close. And I do know that the airbags that put pressure on my hands and legs is a totally new and satisfactory way to work those areas.
When I served in the Peace Corps, in Ghana, West Africa, the heat could be unbearable at times, and so could the mosquitoes. I stayed there for three years, and I remember when I tried to sleep at night, some damn mosquito would come buzzing in my ear, and I would stay awake with my hands apart waiting to slap it silent. Then, some years later, I went to interview Marlon Brando on his island in Tahiti, and the mosquitoes there also disrupted my sleep, until Brando had someone install a net over my bed. I could hear the mosquitoes trying to get to me, but they couldn’t, and all I could think of was how stupid I had been to have spent three years in Ghana without ever thinking about something as simple as getting a mosquito net. Sometimes, we’re just blind to the obvious. And that’s how I feel about my new massage chair. As I lay back having my body stretched, kneaded, shiatsu’d and twisted, all I can think about is: Why did I wait so long?