html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Better, thank you.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Better, thank you.

Early in today's increasingly headachey and miserable afternoon, I decided to stop making the taxpayers pay for my sulky do-nothing presence in the office. I left to get a massage. I love getting massages. I wish I could afford a weekly massage. I wish I remembered to get massages more than twice a year. I got the same massage lady as last time, which worries me. I don't want her to be my regular masseuse (and by "regular" I mean "twice a year"), because although she is pleasant and professional, she gives a good but not great massage. Her technique is fine, but her touch is only neutral. I am a big believer that people have an intrinsic quality of touch. I also believe that this quality is unrelated to how much I like a person, and trumps everything about a potential sweetheart except for smell.

I don't react to most, nearly all, people's touch. There's temperature and clamminess, but otherwise most touch is neutral. A few people though, have a distinct good or bad touch. Good and bad touches both feel like an electric charge. Bad touch is a negative aversive shock, and good touch is a surge of warmth extending past the contact. My ex-best friend and I had mutual negative touch. We never touched. In all those years of being constantly together, we didn't hug for greetings or sit close or stand arm in arm. I suppose in retrospect you could say things about that, but at the time, we just thought it was a odd aspect of an otherwise intense friendship that touching each other felt yucky. I remember different boys for different qualities of touch, but they all had good touch, or I wouldn't have been close with them. I've dq'ed otherwise great boys for bad or neutral touch, which feels sorta unfair to them and is impossible to explain in words to some good guy who did nothing wrong. But it has to be. I've also not gotten crushes on boys who should have been great because they smelled wrong (not bad, not body odor, not cologne. Just... wrong for me.). So unfair, but touch and smell are always gonna be part of a romantic relationship and your body cannot compromise, even when your self would happily be with someone.

The best touch I have ever experienced was my first yoga teacher, whom I didn't much like as a person. Her touch was incredible. Just correcting technique, her touch would be a warm surge, and when she gave the occasional face massage during shivasana, it was nearly overwhelming. I am not one for New Age-y talk of energy fields and auras, but she made me wonder if there wasn't something to it. My old housemates in the co-op used to talk about 'energy' all the time, and it made my mechanical engineer boyfriend crazy. Once, in the kitchen, I was ladling honey from the five gallon bucket into smaller jars. The hippies were being especially sincere, so just to bait them, I wondered aloud how long it would take a kitten to drown in honey. They squawked and fluttered, which I watched with big wide eyes and no give-away smile. One of them said that she could never eat that honey now, what with all the negative energy I'd just put into it. I didn't particularly care, but my boyfriend pulled me aside. "Do you want me to explain energy to her? I can explain it. At house meeting. I could give a lecture on the forms of energy and how it is transferred and how the honey Did Not Store negative kitten energy. I think your whole house should go. I could help them." I would have gone to that lecture, but I wouldn't have listened. I would have watched him write out equations and objectified him.


Blogger Jacqueline Passey said...

"I wish I could afford a weekly massage."

Investigate your local massage school. The quality is inconsistent but the prices are great -- the one in Vegas is $16-$32 a massage depending on how many massages you prepay for (1 to 50), and sometimes you get extra bonus free massages if a student has some particular technique they want to practice but can't find enough paying takers for.

In other news, I am going to be giggling about honey infected with negative drowned kitten energy for the rest of the week, at least.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

The hippie was right, your boyfriend was wrong (and patronizing to boot). The honey had negative energy. The energy was stored in the hippie's mind; what do you think memories and thoughts are made of? Crackling electricity, stored in chemical potential in our neurons, stuff like that. Energy, all of it. We live in an energy-charged world.

7:13 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

Smells, absolutely. They're actually pheromones! I wish I could find that old Lynda Barry comic about the concept; it was probably entitled something like "Pheromones, Right! On!"

Anyway, there were bits in it about how you could secretly like someone else's B.O. or about how some people's personal aromas are NOT OK. There was also a funny line in it about how maybe you've noticed that your dog's feet smell like fritos ("It's Fritos, EXACTLY! How?"), and another part about how some people burn candles that are supposed to smell great but really smell awful (with a little drawing of something labeled "Aromatherapy Hot Dog").

Anyway, Anna used that comic in a paper she wrote about pheromones in college. Interestingly, they may have evolved to help animals know who is related to whom... For example, a mouse from one litter would find the pheromones of his littermates to be unsexy, while the pheromones of another litter would be very alluring. It would help those creatures who might not otherwise remember who all they're related to, so that they'd keep from inbreeding.

Anyway, I once had a boyfriend who I swear I was physically a little bit allergic to, which is maybe how I should have known it wasn't going to work in the long run...

8:18 PM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

I'm an engineer and all I could think off was that a Kitten would take longer to drown in honey because the vicosity means the lungs would fill more slowly....

Puppies too.

8:25 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

One time I told my housemates that it was Puppy Night at taekwondo. I told them that once a semester we would go to the pound and get a bunch of puppies to practice kicking on living things. Because heavy bags have their limitations for serious training. I had one girl appalled for about thirty seconds.

Really people. Even if I look offhand and casual, you have to consider whether Puppy Night is remotely possible.

9:05 PM  
Anonymous Mitch said...

I'm more-or-less with Marcus. "Energy" in the hippie sense probably isn't literally real, but it's a great metaphor for describing how people's minds deal with certain kinds of information. So you might as well treat it as a real phenomenon when you're talking about things like human touch. Or any kind of human interaction, really.

In my book it's perfectly fine to mock people who talk about "storing" "negative" "energy" in honey, though. If you're put off by the mental image of a kitten drowning in honey, you can just say so, dammit. No need to get all metaphysical.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Francis said...

from the limited visual clues, you appear to be about as hot as a sun going supernova.

if the person to whom you are sexually attracted does not need physical restraints to keep his / her hands off you, keep looking.

i knew i found the woman for me when she smelled/tasted/felt/looked just perfect.

there are fewer things better in this world than a naked full body massage from a lover.

(if i weren't married, about 12 years older [born in '63], voluntarily childless and happily practicing law in So. Cal., I'd totally be hounding you. the right guy is out there and worth finding.)

10:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't honey be "negatively energized" by the fact that it was more or less forcibly taken from the bees that made it? I was under the impression that vegans don't do honey, because of the cruelty issue. -K.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Francis - you need to re-visit the comment policy. All of it.

K - Yes. Some vegans don't eat honey, out of concern for bees. Think of them, returning to their hive to find their WHOLE SUMMER'S WORK stolen! The baby bees crying and winter coming on. It is pretty harsh.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to amuse myself endlessly in college by taunting the gullible with shocking statements in a casual voice too! It's great sport, and people get so worked up. Puppy day is classic. -dithers

5:15 AM  
Anonymous Ananda said...

My brother once was in a steakhouse in VA with some college friends, and one of the girls remarked on the lobster tank, wondering whether they would let you pick out a specific lobster for your dinner. My brother, without missing a beat, said, "Oh, yes, and in winter, when they have rabbit stew on the menu, you can go out back and pick out the specific rabbit you want them to make your stew from. The last time I was here they had this nice plump brown one with floppy ears, and how could I resist..."

7:58 AM  
Blogger Capella said...

a Kitten would take longer to drown in honey because the vicosity means the lungs would fill more slowly....

That wouldn't matter - if the kitten found itself immersed in honey, it wouldn't matter whether the honey got into its lungs or not because air wouldn't be getting in, so it would asphyxiate in the same amount of time that it would if its lungs were full of water.

The bigger question is, who is holding the kitten under the honey? Honey has a density of 1.4 g/cm3, and kittens probably have a density something like humans (about 1.15 g/cm3), so if nobody is holding kitty down she is going to float.

8:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

capella: I am impressed with your knowledge of densities. Are you sure you're not an engineer?

Megan, my vegan friend once described the process of honey recovery as physically painful to bees. Something about body parts removed, etc. I've had honey since, but I haven't stopped thinking about it. -K.

8:36 AM  
Anonymous Francis said...

ah, I had forgotten the bit about no compliments. I was focusing on the affirmative kindness line because it sounded like you needed some. (bit of a contradiction between the two, doncha think?)

I withdraw, therefore, my statement about you being hot. I unsay it.

but i still think that touch is a critical part of a good relationship.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Capella, I hadn't actually contemplated someone holding the kitten under.

9:16 AM  
Anonymous D said...

dunno marcus, this sort of talk about energies usually turns me right to the limitations of human understanding of pretty much the entire universe... We can prove a certain amount of stuff, and it seems factual, but that doesn't mean that is all there is... on the other claw a great number of the "hippy" or alternative theory kinds of people seem equally as sure that their explanations are fact. Heck they might even call it truth. The point for me is to not bother quantification if it isn't that necessary. In relationships, many people constantly talk of "chemistry" but who can really put their finger on what it is? Even if we start the letterman list, the attributes won't be true for everyone. They also won't be true equally. As Megan pointed out, the touch can't be the only thing... And if it seems you have that type of touch, you have to be kinda careful, because sometimes people latch on to you and just drain you. All the physics, maths, engineering and all the rest in the world won't explain this.

Is it all in the head? Back to dunno. By appearence it seems true for me across multiple people, though. One of the few things I am reasonably good at is "the back rub" I don't call it massage, simply because it's unstudied. But I seem to be pretty good at ridding many people of headaches, and that's usually how they know me first. Unfortunately, my once and past wife got to know me that way, and simply drained me over 9 years. I ended it for other reasons, but even long time friends noticed a differece in my touch before and after...

I would wonder how that can only be in my mind, or in theirs. I suppose I prefer to think of it as an essential mystery. I don't really need an explanation, I'm not building a bridge or lighting a city. There are get-togethers sometimes with people you barely know, yet later your memory of it has a golden hue like a Maxfield Parrish. Other times a meeting you should remember, something really important to you, or with people who are important to you, is barely remembered, and in a cool light.

Certainly I have gone well beyond Megan's idea of touch, and perhaps this is just photoshopping of memory, but it is interesting upon meeting a friend long known, but not seen in a year, how you intertwine as if no time has past.

Proofs of this are hard to come by, unless you don't need them, and then they are easy.

cheers, D

ps... Megan baiting the housemates... heh, an evil little chcukle for the day

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you'd have to hold the kitten down in honey. If you got it to the bottom, you could let go. The viscosity of honey is high enough, even if the kitten did float back to the surface, it'd likely take too long to matter. And, then, once on the surface, a kitten wouldn't be able to swim in honey, whether it was buoyant or not, so it wouldn't be able to choose which parts of its body were above the honey, it could very well drown on the surface.

And, what's with women and massages? They're expensive, and pointless. I've had 1 now, and I just don't see the point. Why would you want some stranger touching you at all? I guess it feels all right, but not $100 all right.


10:49 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Maybe they feel different to different people.

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Nathan Zook said...

Neil Bortz did a bit where he went up in a helicopter (once a year) & threw out kittens. The little fuzzballs splay out, of course, and with their flexible bones, and long hair, they handle the trip to the ground quite well, including the bouncing part.

I split a gut listening.

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Life at Low Reynolds Number


11:20 AM  
Blogger jens said...

My wife and her 3 sisters did the massage school thing in Vegas, and enjoyed it a great deal.

But you can do better than that.

Stay past trivia at that pub of yours, and somebody will be SURE to offer at LEAST a back rub. Maybe even somebody with "positive" touch!

It's even easier if you are the bartender. Guys try a bit harder if they know they'll be allowed to stay past closing time.

11:45 AM  
Blogger Capella said...

If you got it to the bottom, you could let go. The viscosity of honey is high enough, even if the kitten did float back to the surface, it'd likely take too long to matter.

"Putting Fluffy at the bottom of a barrel of honey" and "Holding Fluffy down in the honey" are kind of the same family of action, aren't they? I think Megan must have been envisioning somebody leaving the barrel of honey uncovered and Fluffy just trips and falls in. Anyway, now you are introducing a depth dependence.

it wouldn't be able to choose which parts of its body were above the honey, it could very well drown on the surface.

Hmm, I don't know... it might have some instincts about these things. Depending on the viscosity of the honey (are we talking about grocery-store honey in the squeeze tube? or fancy homemade honey) it might strongly depend on the cat's position when it entered the honey. If it fell, it would likely fall feet first, so its head would be more or less up.

(Sorry, Megan... I will stop talking about cats drowning in honey now.)

Why would you want some stranger touching you at all?

I'm completely with you on this one. I can see how it would be useful if I had some sort of injury that benefited from massage. But for regular stress relief... just the idea of a total stranger touching me for that long is stressful.

1:24 PM  
Anonymous D said...

"Why would you want some stranger touching you at all?" -Justin, Capella

Well, do you know your doc or nurse well enough not to call them a stranger?

1:43 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

To each his own. I'm not going to argue with you over whether you want a massage. I do, though.

1:50 PM  
Anonymous margie said...

I'm noting some sort of correlation between being a UIUC alum and not wanting a massage. I think I'm another data point there as well. Was there something in our Champaign-Urbana experience that makes us squeamish about massages?

3:42 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

Megan, now that Justin has demonstrated the pointlessness of massages, it just seems obtuse for you to keep insisting you want one.

D, I'm convinced that the world is full of various flows of energy, and that this does not in any way contradict physics, chemistry, and engineering. For example, Dubin's new picture clearly shows her beaming out positive energies.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous D said...

"I think I'm another data point there as well. Was there something in our Champaign-Urbana experience that makes us squeamish about massages?"

sorry to blow up your data-point there, but in one of the strangest turns of serendipity I have seen...

my ex, and her sister both went to school at UIUC... and both seem to know the value of the massage, if not the person doing it.

4:18 PM  
Blogger jens said...

> Maybe they feel different to
> different people.

That is probably the case. I think it helps for people to have back pains for them to really appreciate back massage. Since I am thankfully free of most aches and pains, I've never been much interested in receiving back massage (nevertheless, I've had about two that were actually REALLY NICE).

Foot rubs are always good, though!

4:19 PM  
Blogger meanhappyguy said...

Have you watched "What The Bleep?!"

Great educational video, which has me a bit confused about how energy works. I've always been a pretty big believer in "the power of positive thinking," but the water experiment in "What the Bleep?!" has me wondering if positive and negative energy CAN be stored in places other than our minds...

The next question would of course be, if there is, in fact, negative energy in that jar of honey... did it come from you, or the hippie? I don't really think you put much negative thought towards the honey, but she may have?

6:49 PM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

a Kitten would take longer to drown in honey because the vicosity means the lungs would fill more slowly....

That wouldn't matter - if the kitten found itself immersed in honey, it wouldn't matter whether the honey got into its lungs or not because air wouldn't be getting in, so it would asphyxiate in the same amount of time that it would if its lungs were full of water.

My thinking was that in water the lungs would fill after the first attempt to breath, and that would be that, no more air. The kitten only lasts as long as the O2 in the bloodstream.

With honey, the lungs don't fill, and so now the kitten has the O2 in the blood, PLUS the remaining O2 in the lungs.

8:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hate to do this on the internets, but What the Bleep is 100% woo and extensively debunked by just about everyone.

Re: kittens submerged in honey, I think the next logical question would have been to ask another non-involved housemate to eat the honey, or ask if the flustered one would possibly serve it to someone else. Mitch has a point.


8:24 PM  
Anonymous doctorpat said...

Getting on to massages, I was never really into them until my wife took me to China where a 1 hour massage can be had for about 5 dollars.

She even arranged one for my wedding day (so I wouldn't bother her while she was getting a facial, or hairdo, or whatever.)

Then the attraction was obvious, though only recently have I been able to relax with a male masseur (sp?).

Then, last week, my wife worked out how to get our health insurance to pay for massages here in Australia, so I can get one whenever I can make it to the shop (clinic/dojo/whatever a massage place is called).

8:27 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...


Me? You mean this Dubin? Why thank you, please tell me more about how my photo conveys positive energies!


I am still laughing about "fubar'd waterworks."

Everyone else:

I think once the honey hit the trachea, the kitten is a goner even if it was only submerged for a few moments, because unlike water you can't really cough that stuff up. Just my two cents.

8:29 PM  
Blogger meanhappyguy said...


Thanks for the heads up! I did some research and found out about their poor research methods and phony statistics.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Marcus said...

please tell me more about how my photo conveys positive energies!

1) You are beaming happily
2) Beneath a very cool hat
3) The picnic table is a nice powder/electric blue combo
4) It appears to be a sunny summer day, perhaps in the back yard

You can take all this as pretty much gospel -- I'm a leading expert on energy analytics.

11:27 AM  
Blogger jens said...

> I think once the honey hit the
> trachea, the kitten is a goner

Everybody....I KNOW the only way to REALLY find out the truth about these things is experimentation.


2:38 PM  

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