You were eleven. She was twenty and early in her matriculation at massage school. At eleven, you weren’t much in need of massage. When she asked you if she could practice on you, you said okay.
“Change into your bathing suit,” she said.
You went upstairs and got out of your clothes fast. You hurried into your bathing suit, fumbling with the drawstring and pulling it way too tight so that it would leave a red mark later.
You walked out of your room to the top of the steps and you saw your babysitter in the living room, waiting for you. She’d laid a bed sheet over the couch and was staring up at you in your suit like she was waiting for you to dive off the steps.
“Ready?” she asked.
Without speaking you went down the steps and lay down on your back, like you did at the doctor.
“Turn over on your belly,” your babysitter said. You did as you were told.
Then your babysitter drenched her hands in warm oil and began to rub your eleven-year-old muscles. She rubbed your shoulders. Your neck. The middle of your back. Your thighs. Your calves. Then back on up.
It hurt. Especially around the shoulders and calves. You just didn’t have anything in need of kneading at that age. But you wouldn’t have stopped her for the world. The rubdown made you tenser, in fact, trying to hold still. Trying not to flinch in pain or when you were tickled for fear of any reaction from you making her stop. So you went stiff as a board, hoping to make your babysitter rubdown last as long as you could. Hoping to spend the whole evening under her methodical, mechanical, studied touch. She spread her palms across your flesh and leaned her pelvis against your side like her very future was dependent on how she touched your skin that night.
You didn’t understand what you were supposed to be feeling, but you knew this was a lucky break. It was something you kept quiet about. It was something you don’t tell your parents about, and you weren’t even sure if you were supposed to tell your friends about it. It might have gotten you made fun of, you had no way of knowing. All you knew was to lie still and let this twenty year old girl touch you until she was done.
When she was done, she rubbed you with a towel and told you to go take a bath and get ready for bed. You’re not sure if your parents ever found out. All you know is she stopped babysitting for you soon after. Maybe she finished massage school and didn’t need the money anymore. Or maybe you just got big enough that you were able to stay home alone. Regardless of what became of your babysitter, you know that all of your massages have been letdowns ever since.
“And that’s why I don’t go to massage parlors,” you tell your friends over beers. “That and the whole human trafficking thing. Most of those girls have been kidnapped.”
Then you and your friends drink your beers silently, all of you basking in the vision of a twenty-year-old girl helping an eleven-year-old boy relax.
Happy Remember The Rubdown Your Babysitter Gave You Day!