O popoi

Betty is laid on one side in a bed of sickness, relatively speaking: not a terrible one, just a bit of a sore throat and a woozy kind of feeling in the head. She has been gargling Himalayan salt, doing kaloba shots, upping the fluids, brewing ginger and lemon, taking paracetamol, and other such desperate and heroic acts to ward it off, and they seem to be working fairly well, considering. Other things Betty has been considering are as follows:

1. Flashmobs are the thing just now. What about this one: somebody coughs in a crowded train station. So does somebody else. Others join in. Within minutes, myriad commuters are hacking and whooping as if to shake the earth. A pertussis flashmob! Poignant and striking.

2. Tomorrow night, Betty must take several visiting Pilates teachers to the city and get them into a restaurant that doesn’t take reservations, while fifty thousand other people attempt to crowd into the area for the opening of the Rugby World Cup, an event which interests Betty very little, though there will be fireworks. This might be interesting.

3. There are no more considerations for this evening.

When the fever lifts, Betty will let you know.

The laying on of hands

Betty has been suffering from an Ultimate Fever of Doom for the past week, and it has left her with sore muscles, puffy hands, and a sleepy face. She has snoozed for hours and cancelled more workouts than she decently should have – a shame, because working out makes her feel good, but a mitigated shame, because the muscle pain feels more or less the same as post-exercise soreness anyway.

After her last client of the week, therefore, Betty decided to sort things out with a nice massage. The massage lady is almost next door to Betty’s work, is very reasonably priced, and welcomes walk-ins; for the purposes of privacy and to avoid filling the massage lady’s schedule, we will refer to her as Sue. Her specialty is Chinese massage, delivered with unpretentious simplicity.

The massage went something like this:

Sue: How much pressure you like? Soft or hard?
Betty: Oh, reasonably hard is fine.
Sue: Little more pressure, no problem? I tie your hair back, OK?
Betty: Go ahead. [A flash of pain sears through Betty’s body. The massage continues in silence.]
Sue’s hands: This muscle is attached to this bone.
Betty’s body: Yes, I see.
Sue’s hands: Not necessarily. [pulls them apart]
Betty’s body: My goodness.
Sue’s hands: I will fix your shoulder now. See, here I will poke a small hole.
Betty’s body: I had forgotten the path of that particular nerve. Thank you for reminding me.
Sue’s sweet self: I cannot reach. I sit on you.
Betty’s body: Whoa.

And so on. Over the course of what was supposed to be a thirty-minute massage, Sue spent fifty minutes giving Betty a thorough what-for, reformatting shoulders, polishing spinal vertebrae, and at one point, very possibly working directly on the brain. For probably the same reasons that Betty finds Pilates refreshing, or finds it easy to sleep during IMAX disaster movies, or harbours a secret desire to try waterboarding, this type of massage is deeply relaxing; something about giving her full attention in this way makes it difficult to focus on any of life’s little problems. At any rate, today Betty has bruises from occiput to sacrum, and feels generally much better. Good show, Sue!