When Chris woke up Monday morning, he knew something was not quite right. He was always the one to jump out of bed full of energy, ready to start the day. Not this morning. His neck and shoulders felt stiff and achy, probably from helping his brother repair his deck over the weekend. He didn’t overthink it, figuring a couple of Advil and a hot shower should do the trick.

And they did. Chris felt much better but by noon the tightness in his neck and shoulders was back. Rubbing his neck made the soreness feel a little better; that was when he remembered the masseur at his gym. He decided he’d stop by after work for a massage.

When Chris arrived at the gym, Rick – the front desk guy – told him the masseur was no longer there and his replacement hadn’t started working yet. Rick leaned forward a bit and quietly said, “Look buddy, I could get in trouble for telling you this but my cousin Alex recently opened a massage therapy practice. It’s not easy getting a practice up and running so I offered to help out by referring a few gym members. If you’re interested, I’ll share Alex’s contact info with you.”

Chris knew he didn’t want to spend another night suffering so he decided to take Rick up on his offer. Rick sent his contact information to Chris and five seconds later he had the number for ‘Alex Brody, Massage Therapist’ in his phone. Thanking Rick for the tip, he left the gym and headed to his car.

Chris always kept his gym bag in the car with a fresh change of clothes. He sent a text to Alex, saying he was referred by Rick and explained his situation; Chris added that he hoped he could get an appointment that evening. It didn’t take long for him to receive a reply; Alex agreed to see him in 45 minutes. He was good to go – just enough time to grab a cup of coffee and head over.

Chris arrived at Alex’s place with a few minutes to spare. He grabbed his gym bag, climbed the stairs and rang the bell. The door was opened by an attractive woman in shorts and a t-shirt. She extended her hand and said “Hi. You must be Chris. I’m Alex. Nice to meet you.”

A look of surprise and confusion registered on Chris’ face, then he gave a little chuckle and said “Oh, I see what’s going on here. What’s your full name, Alex? Alexandra?”

Alex withdrew her unacknowledged hand. “That’s right. Is there a problem, Chris?”

“Yeah there is, Alexandra. The problem is women like you who dupe unsuspecting people like me by using a guy’s name simply because they lack the confidence to make it in the big bad world by using their real name. I thought I’d be dealing with a man tonight.”

“You know what, Chris?” quipped Alex. “I thought I’d be dealing with a man tonight, too.”

And she shut the door in his face.

NAR © 2023

Don’t forget to join me today
In The Groove at The Rhythm Section;

we got a thing going on over there.

43 thoughts on “THE NAME GAME”

  1. His reaction to the fact that Alex was a woman, not a man was uncalled for. All he had to do was be mature about it and just shake her hand. So, he thought she was a man because of her name, so what. Don’t make a big deal about it. That last line really packed a punch.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Seriously, I’m in need of some good massage therapy or chiropractic. We have a woman coming tomorrow who specializes in myofascial release to see if she can do anything for this damn back. Mary’s been going to her for a while. I have no qualms with alternative medicine or with having women work on me.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Give it a try, John. I developed very bad spinal stenosis a few years ago, to the point where I could barely walk without agonizing pain. I was in a bad place physically and mentally. I tried epidurals, nerve block injections, etc. Nothing helped. I (thankfully) happened upon a physical therapist who I call Dr. Wonder. By the use of his hands only (occasionally some electrical stimulation, other times something called dry needling) I slowly began to feel like my old self again. I swear by my therapist, or any good physical therapist. He was the only one who brought be out of my pain into the land of the living and I still go for occasional “tune ups” if I should over do something. My back is pain free. Don’t fall for a masseur or masseuse. I’m not knocking their profession but they’re good for certain things – not, I don’t believe – what you need, which is a good physical therapist. Seriously, try it. Good luck to you!


    1. Thank you, Staci! While working on this story, I originally had a very different ending in mind. Tired of the same old happy denouement or grisly outcome, I wanted something I’d never done before. This was the result. Appreciate your comments.

      Liked by 2 people

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