Just so you know, I’ve never been into outrageously kinky public anything with anybody (other than my wife, of course). But when several women at the writers’ conference I was attending began soliciting participation in a session of group foot massage, my interest was aroused.
There wasn’t a lot of information—just a time and a room number—so my imagination filled in the details. The way I pictured it was that I would lie barefoot on a bed while the women took turns lovingly kneading and caressing my feet, probably with warmed, scented massage oils and lotions—perhaps even drying my feet with their long, silky hair. I would luxuriate in the attention and become so relaxed that I would nearly drift off to sleep while still reveling in the sensuality of the experience. And it also occurred to me—being at a writers’ conference and all—that as a bonus I was definitely going to get something to write about out of this. So I agreed to join in. And so did my wife.
Should I bathe before going or at least wash my feet? Should I give myself a pedicure? Should I take my own lotion? Should I wear special socks and shoes? Would sandals be too much of a tease? Or should I just pad down the hallway boldly barefoot and arrive ready to go?
When my wife and I arrived, there were three or four women and two men already in the room. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was to see the other men. They didn’t fit in with my imagined scenario at all.
There were two beds, and lying on one of them was a large, colorful foot reflexology chart with lines marking off body systems that different areas of the feet corresponded to. The areas had such designations as “lungs,” “stomach,” “bladder,” coccyx,” ascending colon,” “sigmoid colon,” and “descending colon.”
The romance of my vision was starting to slip away.
One of the other men, however—whose expectations may have been similar to my own—had brought champagne and proposed we share some before getting started. The bottle was not chilled, but he said, “That’s not a problem because I brought ice to put in our cups.” He popped the cork, and what followed is one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen. A stream of froth and foam shot out with such violence that the bottle leaped out of the uncorker’s hands, flipped upside down, and did a hypnotic cobra dance up and down in midair for about five seconds before crashing to the floor.
With the formal toasting out of the way, we got down to the ceremony itself.
One of the women called our attention to the reflexology chart, explained that whatever bodily problems we had could be helped by massaging the appropriate foot-bottom area, and then encouraged us to get right to work. The women removed their shoes, sat on the beds and began rubbing their own feet. Yes, their own feet! Maybe I should’ve pressed for more details before giving my consent. This was obscene.
From the women’s conversation, I gathered that they especially had issues with indigestion. “How can things get any worse than this?” I wondered. The women were rubbing the “stomach” areas on their feet. After a few moments, I heard a burp. Then another. Soon there was a veritable chorus, a cacophony, of belching. The room sounded like a frog pond.
Now although I had felt close enough to these women to let them caress my feet, this was too intimate. What was my safe word?
Call me old-fashioned, but I think you should be married to someone before you engage in unrestrained burping with them, and even then it should be in private, just the two of you.
As small bursts of belly gas exploded all around me, the last vestige of my fantasy disintegrated. Disillusioned, and in despair over the nature of the universe, I stared for a moment at my toes. Then I took a deep breath and fell to work, rubbing the ball of my left foot—right in the “heart” area.
After all—my heart was broken.
(Footnote: Reflexology diagram by Stacy Simone)