Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Total and terrifying relaxation

I got cupped the other night. While that may sound initiatory and/or kind of dirty, cupping is actually an ancient Chinese healing technique. Small leather patches are placed along the back, with little pieces of alcohol-soaked cotton sitting on top of them. The pieces of cotton are set on fire, and then glass cups are placed over them. The resulting heat and partial vacuum create local congestions and blood stasis. Or, in layman's terms, big wads of your flesh are sucked up into the cups.

Surprisingly, it doesn't hurt. I think it was supposed to, though--one of my friends was trying to hold my hands and comfort me by saying things like, "It will all be over soon," "you're doing a great job," etc. But really, it just feels like a massage where the masseuse squeezes your shoulders and doesn't let go. However, once the cups are removed, you're left with these 3-inch-wide circular hickies all down your back, which I thought was kind of funny at first, up until I realized how much they look like the marks left by giant squid tentacles.

I should mention that I have an irrational yet deeply internalized fear of giant squid.

Logically, I know that I will almost never be in a situation where a giant squid will be able to get me, but that doesn't stop me from freaking out about it. I've had panic attacks after watching giant squid-themed horror movies. The Houston Museum of Natural History has a life-sized replica of a giant squid looming over a staircase, and I screamed like a white woman when I blithely turned a corner and smacked into it. Despite my vegetarian diet, I've been known to devour large plates of calamari, since that way I can eat the squid before the squid can eat me.

And now, whenever I step out of the shower and catch my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I think, "Boy, it sure does looks like a giant squid did a number on my back. I'm very lucky to have survived." Then the shuddering starts.

But yeah, cupping was fun. In the future, though, I think I'll stick with massage therapy that doesn't involve disfigurement or traumatic flashbacks. It just seems healthier that way.


Anonymous said...

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