We were in Phoenix, AZ, visiting Grandma, and not only was a) my back acting up, I needed b) a break from the mother-son dynamic that always manifested itself when we were visiting my mother in law. (This consisted primarily of my mother in law making copious amounts of hot dish involving tater tots and mushroom soup, and my husband desperately trying to think of reasons not to eat at home.)
I found a spa online that sounded ok. It was in Scottsdale, which is the nicest part of Phoenix. I left my husband, the boys, and Grandma debating whether to eat lunch at Taco John's or stay home and open a can of soup (it always rains when we go to Phoenix.) I found the spa and was introduced to my masseuse,"Krysteyl." She seemed very bubbly and friendly. She led me into the totally spa-ed out New Age darkened, candle-lit, aroma-therapied massage room. I sighed with happiness --my back really hurt after the 6 hours flight from the East Coast--and was looking forward to an hour or relaxing bliss.
Two minutes into the massage Krysteyl got a phone call.
"Oh sorry, it's my son, I have to take this," she said, and answered the phone will poking ineffectually at my back with one hand. After a long conversation comprised mostly of Krysteyl assuring her son she would be home in two hours, I asked how old her kids were.
"Four and six," she replied. "They're alone so they're always calling me at work!"
Four and six! My heart seized with sadness for the little boys, home all alone in Phoenix (which, actually, is pretty sketchy--the headlines in the paper that week were all about local teenage girls being kidnapped out of malls into human trafficking.)
"Oh," I said finally, not having anything positive to say to that information. I shut my eyes and hoped for peace and quiet, thinking, why does this always happen to me? Complete strangers tell me their life stories on a regular basis-- I have no idea why. Usually, I find it very interesting, but today, I just wanted a quiet massage. And there I was, trapped in the dark, naked, and Krysteyl really needed someone to talk to.
"Yeah, well, my boyfriend, he's not too good at watching them, " Krystel confessed. "My PlayStation is broken, so the don't have anything to do."
"Right," I said, and thought about the walk we had taken at the foot of the Superstition Mountains the day before (which was free,) our trip to the Botanical Gardens, and the sheer joy of just running around in t-shirts in February.
"I really like this music," I added, desperately hoping Krysteyl would turn it up and stop talking.
"Course they don't know him very well," she continued as she started on my shoulders. "I mean I've only known him for a couple weeks now."
"Really," I said as disinterestedly as possible.
"Yeah, and my mom really doesn't like him. She thinks I just picked him up on the side of the road and started, you know, doing it with him that same day!" Krystel said indignantly. Her hands paused. I remained silent, with my eyes squeezed shut. Maybe if I pretended to be asleep, she would stop talking.
"Of course, that is basically what happened," she mused. Oh my god. "He was standing on the side of the 50 and I saw him, like, standing there, and I was all, he's so hot! So I asked him if he needed help, and he said he had no money or anything for a tow--he just got away from his crazy ex girlfriend over in Goodyear--she had a restraining order against him--and he had nowhere to go! He didn't even have ten bucks to his name"
"So you picked him up?" I said in disbelief. "From the side of the highway?"
"I know, right? So I brought him home and-" here she giggled--" we started doing it right that day, you know, like it was meant to be. We tell everyone- it is so romantic how we met! Like a fairytale!"
This rendered me speechless. She kept talking.
"So, that whole first week it was just like, we were so in love!" Krysteyl gushed. "And the week after. But he doesn't like to go out much, you know, so I always stop and get food on the way home to feed him a good dinner. He doesn't like to do stuff with the kids. Until he gets his PlayStation back, then he'll play with them. We're trying to get it back from his crazy ex girlfriend. But she lives all the way in Goodyear--and he doesn't have a car, so we can't get over there--we're thinking about taking her to small claims court to get it back!" Awesome! Burden the court system!
"So....." I ventured, "What, ah, what does he do for work?"
The hands paused again.
"He's looking for an appropriate opportunity to go into business right now," Krysteyl said solemnly. "I mean he's not going to do just anything, you know, he's not going to be a working stiff."
"Right," I said, thinking, this guy is a complete, full-on, bottom of the barrel loser.
"And we were both raised LDS, so you know, we have this work ethic we learned in our church."
What?! What kind of Mormons did they have down here in Arizona? Epic fail, Mormons! These people definitely did not get the same message at Sunday School as the Romneys!
"--so right now, you know, he's just working on getting his PlayStation back."
"That's what he does all day?" My brain was actually having trouble processing it all.
"Well, you know, he keeps calling her, and she doesn't want to give it back! So what's he supposed to do all day?"
"Maybe he could look for a job," I said. "Or could take your kids outside?"
Krysteyl's hands slowed a third time.
"Well, he doesn't like, you know, going outside. Actually...." she reflected,"He doesn't like to get off the couch too much. So sometimes, actually a lot of the time, I just tell the kids to go in their room so we can do it on the couch so he doesn't have to get up or nothing."
Right. At this point I was wondering if I should call DHS on the way home.
"But I don't know," she said seriously, "I'm starting to think we are having some relationship issues."
"What makes you think that?" I asked.
"Well, there are just some things, you know, that we need to have a serious talk about. Because now when I get home, you know, after working eight hours and picking the kids up and doing the shopping and cooking us all dinner, and he wants to do it on the couch, sometimes I don't want to." Krsyteyl was starting to sound sad. "I think we might need to talk to, you know, a relationship counselor."
"Maybe," I said, thinking, this the stupidest woman I have ever met in my entire life. What she really needs is a total head transplant.
"'Cause he's like, you know, 'I feel like I have to beg for my kisses,'" Krysteyl said tragically. "I think we need to talk to someone. Like they have on Dr. Phil."
What I would not give to see Dr. Phil talk to this couple: "Krysteyl, do you often pick up broke, unemployed losers on the side of the road and immediately bring back to your apartment and start sleeping with them while your children are present?
"Ok, hon, you're all done. Gosh, it was so nice talking to you and getting to know you!" Kysteyl gushed. The lights came on. We looked at one another. There was nothing to say.
"Well, good luck," I said finally. Krysteyl gave me a hug. I reeled out of the spa into the Arizona rain, thinking, sometimes, you meet people who make you lose all hope in humanity. But it was a pretty great massage.