I’m standing in a hallway facing a door. On the other side of the door is a naked man named Phil. I’ve worked with Phil maybe a half dozen times before, but I don’t know a thing about him. He doesn’t talk much. In a moment I’ll knock on the door but I want to be sure he’s had enough time to take off his clothes and get under the covers. I went in too soon once and found Phil still standing next to the table, naked, instead of lying on it. I’d knocked that time too and when he didn’t say anything I figured he was ready. Perhaps in his mind he WAS ready, if showing me his penis was what he’d been preparing for, which I believe it was. I didn’t react. Well, I tried not to react anyway. I believe my eyes may have given away the fact that Phil’s penis (I named it Andre, after the famous giant) was quite a bit more substantial than mine. I think that was the reason he smiled at me as I stepped back out of the room and closed the door. Or maybe he was just being friendly. Phil’s a friendly guy after all.
I think he’s had enough time now so I knock on the door.
“Come on in,” Phil says.
I open the door slowly in case Andre is running free again. But there’s no cause for concern. Phil is lying on the table as he should be. He is on his back and is more or less covered by the sheet and blanket. He has the covers pushed down as far as he possibly can without exposing the big fella, but far enough still to reveal his ripply abs right down to the part where they start to pull together into a V between his hip bones. I think it’s important to Phil that I see his amazing abs, the product of what must be thousands of sit ups and a strict, low carb diet. But I’m not sure why it’s important. I doubt that Phil believes me to be gay. I’ve given him no reason to think I am and I don’t have any of the characteristics of a stereotypical gay man. I think Phil just enjoys showing off the body that he has worked so hard to obtain and the gargantuan penis that mother nature gave him. He may get some other satisfaction from showing me his body but I don’t spend much time thinking about that. Or maybe he is hoping to get a reaction from me, but that’s a satisfaction I won’t give him. Whatever the case, there’s no doubt in my mind that he likes being touched by men. In all the time Phil has been coming here he has always requested a male. And for the last six months that male is always me. One of my female co-workers enjoys reminding me that, “Phil likes you boys”, in her imitation gay man voice whenever she sees Phil on my schedule. And that’s fine with me. It’s my job to touch Phil and whatever type of enjoyment he gets from that is his business.
I close the door behind me and ask Phil if he is comfortable. He is. I ask if the table is too warm. It isn’t. I sit down on my stool at the head of the table and Phil closes his eyes. I put my hands under Phil’s head and lock my fingertips under the base of his skull and pull, gently at first and then more firmly. Phil’s neck has quite a bit of curve to it when he lies down because Phil’s posture isn’t very good. You’d think a guy as ripped as Phil would have immaculate posture to go along with the muscles, but I have a feeling Phil wasn’t always so ripped. Phil is in his 40’s now and I’m guessing that he started constructing this body some time in his 20’s. Before that he was probably a tall, skinny, gangly guy much like I was when I was younger. It’s hard to walk around with a body like that. It makes a guy insecure and insecurity leads to slouching. I think me and Phil probably have that in common. I was an insecure sloucher too. I’m not as insecure these days, but years of slouching have left me with a curved neck and shoulders that tend to hang forward. It’s a scar of my difficult youth. Phil has the same scar. Not only was he tall and skinny but he was gay too. Maybe he couldn’t tell anyone. Maybe he DID tell people and got a negative reaction, maybe from his own family. That kind of weight would make anyone slouch.
So I pull at his head a while longer, trying to straighten his neck and erase the past. I don’t have much success though. Then I let my hands move up to the sides of his head. I slide my fingers forward and back above his ears and then in small circles as though I’m demonstrating how to work a shampoo into a lather. I know Phil likes this part because he always arches his back a little and takes a deep breath. I doubt he even realizes he does it. After that I stand up and put my hands on his chest, careful not to touch his nipples. I lean forward so that more of my weight is pressing down on his chest and I glide my hands out toward his arms. His chest is shiny with oil now and I move onto his arms. He seems disinterested in this part, but I still go through the motions. Whatever Phil does for a living I can be sure it’s not hard labor. His hands are soft and uncalloused and aren’t meaty like those of a construction worker. And he must wear gloves when he lifts weights to keep them so smooth. Oh, and the difference in the musculature tells me he’s definitely right handed. So maybe I do know a few things about Phil.
When I move onto his legs, Phil gets interested again. I start with his right leg. I uncover it to the top of his thigh, lift his leg and pull the sheet under it from the outside so that the parts I don’t want to see will stay covered. Many people will help me in this process by lifting their own leg to save me the effort. Phil, on the other hand, lifts his pelvis. I’m not sure what he hopes to accomplish with this but all it does is make it more difficult for me. Maybe that’s all he’s trying to do. Or maybe he’s trying to get Andre some air. I should mention that Phil and I had a brief conversation when I first brought him back to the room, before he got undressed. I asked if there were any parts of his body that he wanted me to give extra attention. I have this conversation every time with every client. Most people say their neck or their shoulders or their lower back. Phil always has more unique requests. Once it was his glutes (his butt), another time it was his adductors (the muscles of the inner thigh), and today it is his hip flexors (the front of the hip at the top of the leg). I won’t pull the sheet high enough to uncover his hip flexors. If he wants them worked on it will have to be through the sheet. I start at the bottom of his leg and work my way up. Most people lay with their legs straight so that their toes, their knees, and the top of their leg face the ceiling. Phil lets his legs fall open into more of a frog position with his toes and knees pointing out to the sides. Yeah, you’re right, it’s a little creepy. Do I care? Not really. It makes it hard to get to the outside of his leg but that’s his loss. When I get to the top of his leg I push the heel of my hand into his hip flexors. I twist it back and forth like I’m trying to crush a bug, careful not to move too far inside lest I accidentally touch Andre, whose location is unknown to me as his nether regions are covered by the blanket as well as the sheet. I finish up on the right side, pull down the sheet, pull down the blanket and move to the left side. I fold back the blanket and can already see that there’s going to be a problem. It’s laying there on his left hip, under the sheet, but lurking none the less. There’s no way to get to his hip flexors without bumping it or asking Phil to move it, neither of which I will do. So I just start working my way up his leg — tibialis anterior, vastus lateralis, vastus medialis, rector femoris, etc. It’s when I’m working on the ilio-tibial band (outside of thight) that it happens — Andre jumps and then he jumps again. In case you’re not intimately familiar with the mechanisms of the penis I can tell you that it doesn’t jump on its’ own. It takes a conscious effort on the part of the owner of said penis. I’m not a fan of jumping penises. I pull down the sheet, pull down the blanket, and his legs are done. This is how Phil and I work out the boundaries. We’ve been doing this for months now. He tries to push the envelope every session. If it’s something I will tolerate I keep working. If I feel like he has crossed a line I stop what I’m doing and move on. Without ever speaking a word we get it all sorted out. It seems to work for Phil because he keeps coming back. And it works for me because ultimately I’m in control of the situation.
The back of his legs goes without incident. Once again, when he should lift his leg for me to tuck the sheet under, Phil lifts his pelvis, but no harm done. It’s what Phil does when I get to his back that caused another therapist to end a session with Phil while a half an hour still remained. Generally, when I’m working on the back, I fold the sheet and blanket down right to the top of the client’s butt so that none of the gluteal cleft (butt crack) is showing. If he or she is wearing underwear I fold it to the top of of those wherever that may be (higher with the grandmothers). Phil isn’t satisfied with that though. He hooks his thumbs over the sheet and blanket and pushes them down another four or five inches so that half of his butt is uncovered. He does this every time. At this point, the other therapist I mentioned pulled the covers back up. Phil pushed it back down and that was that. He told Phil to get dressed and he left the room. Yet another therapist tried the same thing — he pulled the covers back up. Phil pushed them back down. This therapist pulled them back up a second time and then held them there for the rest of the session. Phil never went back to him. So Phil keeps coming back to me because I just don’t care. I’ve seen butt’s before. I have a butt. And Phil is only uncovering half of his. Why does he do this? I don’t know. Does it matter? Not really. People come to see me for all sorts of reasons. Most often it’s because they want me to help relieve tension in their muscles. I mean, that’s pretty much my primary function. But some people just want to be touched. Some come to relax. Some just want to escape the world for an hour. Some want to talk. Some probably get some sort of sexual satisfaction from our time although I’ve never once touched someones “special parts”. Many therapists get hung up on the why. In their minds they have a list of legitimate and illegitimate reasons why a client might come to see them. And if they sense that a client is there for an “illegitimate” reason they get ALL riled up. I really only have two rules. One, don’t touch me. Two, don’t try to take control of the session. I’ve never told a client these rules because I’ve never had to. I’ve had over four thousand sessions and no one has ever broken either rule. You might suggest that Phil is in control of where the sheet is but it’s only because I let him. I think he understands if he pushes it down any further it will be an issue and so he doesn’t try. Now that I think about it, there is really no difference between me and those other therapists that I mentioned. They just have different boundaries then me. Perhaps I’m just more liberal.
Whatever the case, my session with Phil is just about over. I’m done with his back and I’m pushing the heel of my hand into his gluteus maximus muscle.
That’s the one. It’s just another muscle when you think about it. We’ve attached all sorts of importance to it, but it’s just a hunk of muscle like any other. Of course, there’s more than one way you could describe what I’m doing. One way would be to say that I’m compressing the gluteus maximus muscle of my client to release the tension. Another way would be to say that I have my hand on the naked, lubricated ass of a gay man. I prefer to think of it the first way. Phil probably prefers the second. It’s all about perspective really. So much of life is like that.