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Warning: Portions Of This Column May Rub You The Wrong Way. Live With It!

Our columnist reveals some personal struggles that you may not want to hear about, but apparently you’re going to anyway. Oh, and he also takes another look at the Borders liquidation , if you manage to get that far.

"You know when you're sitting on a chair and you lean back so you're just on two legs and you lean too far so you almost fall over but at the last second you catch yourself? I feel like that all the time..." — Steven Wright 

My entire body aches! I’m still recovering from our little excursion to Storyland; eight-plus hours of spinning out of control with the Mad Hatter on the Giant Tea Cups; hitting the water at twenty-miles-an-hour at the bottom of a thirty-foot drop on the Bamboo Chutes; being jerked around wildly in the Crazy Barn; flying high on the Dutch Shoe, soaring in the Flying Fish, and suffering near-whiplash on the Polar Coaster. 

And now this past week I’ve been trying to catch up on two weeks of neglected gardening chores; picking veggies, staking plants, weeding, deadheading, pruning and all that goes with maintaining a large vegetable garden, a bevy of flower beds and numerous potted plants. 

My knees are making funny clicking noises when I walk and my arms and shoulders are sore and stiff. This old body is stressed! I need a massage!  I should call to make an appointment, but who am I kidding? I don’t intend to do any such thing. I just can’t bring myself to do it. I can’t make that leap. 

First of all, I have no interest in lying in the prone position on a portable folding table, draped with a sheet, listening to a CD of whale mating sounds while some rancid smelling incense from Bengal wafts playfully up my nose. 

Secondly; I have absolutely no desire to have some well-muscled masseur-dude put his grubby man-hands on my body; none whatsoever – as in zero!  That would freak me out to the max! So let’s end that discussion right now. That’s never going to happen! 

And the notion of having some strange woman put her hands on me, oil me up and rub me all over like a greased pig terrifies me. I just can’t do it; not because it would be creepy or unpleasant, but because, well; you figure it out! There’s no good way to say it without getting disgustingly graphic and I’m just not going there. 

Having a woman touch me like that in a non-romantic situation just seems unnatural; do you know what I mean? I know that may sound childish, immature, perhaps even sexist, but that’s the way I feel. It’s just how I’m wired. I know there are a lot of other guys out there who feel the same way. It’s just that, unlike most of them; I’m willing to admit it. 

Here’s how phobic I am about this whole massage thing. I was a patient at in Canton a few years back and Dr. Rauch had suggested that massage therapy may be helpful in alleviating my back pain, so my wife got me a gift certificate to for my birthday. My own wife - sending me to a massage parlor! Has she no shame! Anway, I held on to it for eleven months before I chickened out and gave it to my daughter, Kelly, a few weeks before it was going to expire. 

I tried to set up an appointment for myself several times! Believe me; I tried! I picked up the phone numerous times intent on making an appointment, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. One time I actually got as far as making a connection. Someone answered the phone and said, “You’ve reached Becky Feeley Massage,”  and I panicked and mumbled, “Sorry, wrong number,” and hung up just before I realized I’d been talking to an answering machine.  

And come on now! Becky Feeley Massage? Feeley? What kind of a name is that for a massage business? Could it be any more intimidating? Why not just come right out with it and call it Touchy Feeley Massage? 

Okay, I know. I know I’m weird. But I can’t help how I feel. Believe me, I’d love to have a massage, but I don’t see it happening unless I can get past this irrational hang-up I have about being touched by a woman without it leading to…….. 

Enough of this! This is an issue I’m uncomfortable discussing outside an office with a couch and a piece of framed parchment from The Department of Psychiatry of Harvard Medical School hanging on the wall. 

I need to take a break before I write the rest of this column. I’m out of here for a while. I think I’ll go get a Happy Ending. Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about a Happy Ending Sundae at

You know - you people are really twisted! 

                                                 ******************** 

Prologue: A conversation I overheard as I waited in the checkout line at Borders in Mansfield. “I got them books so daddy don’t have to touch my e-reader no more.”  Good grief! Here’s hoping they publish English grammar books for e-readers. 

As I stated quite succinctly in last week’s column, ; I’m quite distraught about the demise of the bookstores. I’ve been to the Mansfield store several times since they announced they were closing their doors for good, but I can’t get any coffee at Seattle’s Best, the café that once graced the rear of the store, as it was shut down prior to the start of the stores liquidation sale. I now have to pick up my caffeinated drink du jour at Starbucks in Easton and take it to Borders with me. 

I’ve purchased a couple of books in the last two weeks and both times the usually cheerful clerks who I’ve become accustomed to dealing with over the years seemed to be totally despondent, if not depressed. Not a smile. Barely a faint ‘thank you’. The feeling of despair was palpable. It’s bad enough that these poor people have lost their jobs, but in the prevailing market their opportunities for future employment are more than likely sparse at best. 

I’m not sure how much longer Borders will be around, but I know I’m sure going to miss it. I’ll miss sitting in the café, drinking my coffee and reading or working on my column or my book. I’ll miss sitting in the children’s section with my grandson as he pours through the huge pile of books he’s pulled from the shelves. And I’ll miss sitting on the floor, reading to him. 

I’ve been around long enough to know that things change and nothing in this ephemeral world lasts forever. Losing a bookstore isn’t the end of the world, but in this high-tech world of e-readers and digitized books; it may be the dawn of the end of an era. 

Sad! 

Make it a great week! 

Bob Havey is a freelance writer and a Mansfield native, currently living in Easton. His column "Take Me Back" appears each Friday at http://mansfield-ma.patch.com and his column, "The View From Here", may be seen each Tuesday at http://easton-ma.patch.com.

Bill Gouveia August 08, 2011 at 07:47 PM
Bob, I'm not sure how StoryLand is still standing considering we were both there within a week or two! My three-year-old grandson did much better on the tea cups and the coaster than Grandpa did!
Jasmine August 09, 2011 at 06:37 PM
LOL...LOL...LOL. OHMYGOSH all I can do is laugh!
Peggy Heminitz August 10, 2011 at 11:32 AM
Great column, Bob. I'm still laughing!
ELAINE NORDBERG ROCK June 24, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Miss Borders too; have headed there a couple times & suddenly remember it no longer exists in Mansfield. ;-(

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