It had to happen eventually. Every massage therapist has at one point or another had to deal with it. With one of them. I suppose I'm lucky that my first happened while I was in the safety of the college clinic with my supervisor a mere towel-throw away.
We have very established rules and guidelines for this sort of thing. If you are unsure or uncomfortable about anything at all, you throw a towel out from under your cubicle curtain and your supervisor will check on you. If you feel at any time unsafe you leave, you talk to your supervisor, and they will (depending on the issue) find someone else to treat your client, treat your client themselves, or kick your client out of the clinic. Really, given all this, it was very lucky that I was at the student clinic for tonight's...experience.
My client arrives and I greet him in the front lobby. We walk back to the treatment room, and into my cubicle. He espouses stories about his hip and gluteal pain and problems. I do some basic postural assessment and orthopedic testing. I decide on a course of action. I explain my plan for treatment to him. He okays it. I leave. He gets on the table.
At this point I talk to my supervisor about techniques for the condition he presents with, she gives me some tips. I wash my hands. I announce myself. I reenter the cubicle. I arrange the pillows. I undrape his leg. I do some light compressions on his right glute. I begin with the knuckle kneading....and it happens. He lets out a sound. Not a polite expression of his enjoyment and comfort, but a full out loud right-from-the-bottom-of-his gut moan. The type of moan that, had it been sounded from your teenage bedroom, would have sent your parents racing up the stairs sure to find you in mid-coitus.
Okay, wait, I'm a professional. I can handle this. Think back to professional development last term. I ignore it. I continue with the massage, and it continues to happen. After ten minutes of continued moaning I hear a choking sound from beyond the curtain where my team leader is sitting at a table with my supervisor. I hear muffled giggling. Someone is desperately trying to keeping from laughing uproariously at the moaning and now running commentary coming from my client. Because, yes, as if the moaning was not enough, he's decided to throw in delightful phrases such as "oh yes, just like that", and "don't stop doing that".
It's like a really tacky porno with absolutely no sex.
My supervisor calls out from beyond the curtain, "Haley, are you okay in there? Do you need any help with anything?" She clearly is concerned that my oh-so-verbal client has nefarious ideas or plans. I reply that I'm fine, because as simultaneously awkward and hilarious as the situation is, I am 110% sure that the 54 year old man lying on my massage table has no intention of giving off any sexual vibe. And, as it turns out, I am right: after an hour of moaning he gets off the table and leaves like any other client. Some people just let go of stress in different ways than the norm, and I am professional enough to allow him his safe space.
Of course, as soon as he leaves I burst into laughter and have to hop up and down shaking off the creepy residual feeling. My supervisor catches me in mid shake-off and smiling and shaking her head says, "well, I guess you know that he really enjoyed his massage".
And I suppose that's rather satisfying, isn't it?