Boys are adorable. Male chickens born to us cordon off a section of our hearts in which they set up camp and never leave. They may be dirty, smelly, monosyllabic whirling devils who must be trained to pass as humans in suits but once one wraps himself around your heart, escape is impossible.
This afternoon is spent receiving a hot stone massage; a Christmas gift from the chickens and Oldest Chicken’s best girl, Baby Pea. The collection of four, holding their breath while I open said gift on the morn after Santa’s arrival is a precious sight indeed. Eyes wide, smiles taking over their faces, they gauge my reaction. You see, they are imitating The Norwegian. Every Christmas, tucked into my stocking is the gift of massage at a most amazing spa. It’s the kind of place to which people around the globe flock seeking respite and relaxation. One particular pedicure visit I was asked to wait just a few moments en route to my chair. A certain Ms. Spears was in the building and requested she not be looked upon by mere mortals.
It’s a place nestled into a mountain. Climbing the stairs visitors smell the eucalyptus olfactory sensation before the spa shows itself. I am greeted with a smile and shown to my locker. Ladies in robes mill about and thank all that is holy, today there are no nudies. I know, I know. Nudity is fine at the spa. But have you ever noticed those least entitled to public nakedness are always leading the parade. Discreetly, I don my robe and tuck into copies of InStyle and Vogue. I spy a handbag gracing the pages. It is quite lovely–a mere eleven hundred dollars. The Francie, Distressed Bomber and Black Bucket are so superior I sniff. Pfft.
Massage therapist Jeanne calls my name and escorts me through bamboo filled halls, reminding me of my search for Zen. For me, acquiring a Zen state is akin to Hillary Clinton donning a sheath dress, stadium pumps and makeup. Type A personalities know my pain. Quieting the mind is a luxury reserved for others; like a closetful of Louboutins.
Jeanne, dear that she is, advises me deep breath in–in with the good, out with the bad. Focus, focus. And my mind says, “Did I pay the cable bill?” She asks where I carry tension. Evidently the entire body is not the answer for which she searches. I settle on neck and lower back as anxiety collectors. I don’t tell her I also carry stress in my head, arms, legs, feet, back, brain and outsized ass. No matter. A human being is going to rub my body with hot rocks; it’s all good.
Hot stone massage features hot basalt stones, believed to rid the body of toxins and remove negativity. Stones are placed on the body’s shakras and used as aids in massage. It is a physical treat unlike any other regardless of whether Her Majesty Zen makes an appearance. So heady is this experience I have been known to drool–ever the lady. I have also fallen asleep, nearly peed myself and fallen to the floor after getting up too fast after such intoxication. Jeanne examines my back for proper placement of stones to heat me from the underside as she works on my neck, arms and feet. Tiny stones lodge between each toe and don’t forget the one for your third eye. I do a search for my third eye almost daily–this is not a joke. Sometimes when I find her, I ask her what the hell is going on and when will it be over? She never answers. Bitch.
I commune with my third eye while the music of a foreign land fills the room. I transport myself to a more peaceful place, a place where there are dirty martini fountains, ropes of pearls and no IRS. My thoughts also wander to this sweet gift from my little chickens and what’s behind it. They want me to know they recognize my grief, that they too know we all suffer and pine for someone no longer with us. It is a dance we perform effortlessly; checking on each other, gauging one another’s needs, disposition and sadness. The bulk falls to Oldest Chicken, not by request, but through his own grasp. He is so like his father.
He is equal measures kindness and strength, brawn and brusk. Sometimes grief gets the better of him, like the night before The Norwegian’s funeral when he punched a hole in the laundry room wall. Rebuke was unnecessary. I did, however, remind him the hole would not bode well in this housing market. We laughed as we wept until there were no more tears that night. He is the boy I watch transform himself into a man before my eyes. He would tell you of its necessity. The argument is a constant one–me reminding him I do not need care and he reminding me of some unspoken duty. I find it sad he is called upon before his time. Most young men his age have only job searches and clubbing to cloud their minds. He carries more than his share regardless of attempts to lighten his burden. It is indeed a rare gift to watch your son rise through loss; dignity intact. He is a man his father would admire. His father would label him a stellar man. His father would also weep at his son’s self imposed accountability.
On Christmas morn, he tells of the day he visited the spa for the purchase. He says they pull up activity under our name and ask if he is The Norwegian. No, that was my dad. We want to do what he did for our mom, he says. Can you tell me what he did? The clerk outlines years of massages, facials, manis and pedis given for birthdays, holidays and anniversaries. The Norwegian unknowingly left his son a legacy to spoil the woman in his life; to love her and honor her in all ways, including the frivolous.
But what makes me smile as hot stones warm my body and soul is his face on Christmas morning when I profusely thank all my chickens for their thoughtfulness. He takes me aside later and smiles the smile of his tow-headed five-year-old chubby-cheeked self and proclaims, “It was my idea.” I know it is. His father taught him well.