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I had this massage therapist once who used to burp when she was working on me. It was very strange. I found her during one of those rare times in my life in Toronto when I had health insurance so could afford the luxury of a massage every once in a while. I was working at a part time job for a community organization. They had two offices one above ground and one in the basement of a building around the corner where there was mold growing on the walls, squishy floors and when it rained the rain came down inside the glass windows. It was a dump. When I mentioned to the director how bad this was for our health, she would just shrug her shoulders at me as she walked out the door to work from home. It was a terrible job and a terrible place but I had the health insurance.

Anyway, one day I asked one of the folks there if she knew a good massage therapist. How else do you find your healers, eh? So she told me about this woman, Helen. She said she was terrific except for this one little idiosyncrasy —  she burped when she worked on you. Very odd, indeed, I thought. But my co-worker was enthusiastic about how good she was and that she was downtown and I didn’t know anyone else to ask, so I booked an appointment.

The Burper, who I came to call “Crazy Helen,” had a fabulous third-floor walkup studio in an old factory downtown. The place was magnificent — 20 ft ceilings, big big big windows, wooden cupboards and cases salvaged from an old apothecary and a hip receptionist with blue hair before blue hair became fashionable. I was to have an “experience.” Blue Hair showed me into the massage room and left me there to disrobe and get ready for the treatment. I waited, and waited, and waited and waited. I hoped she didn’t charge by the hour because I was sure my insurance company would not cover this much time. I felt trapped there. I didn’t want to get dressed and go out and ask Blue Hair where the masseuse could possibly be but I also was an impatient patient.

But, then there she was. It was almost like the wait was part of the show. She was skinny bordering on anorexic, wore yellow corduroy  pants and a Bob Marley T-shirt and sipped on a cup of foul looking green slime — very healthy, I’m sure. She asked me a few questions and left. I could hear her in another room asking someone else a few questions. Finally, she came back. The massage was fabulous and worth the wait. She applied deep deep pressure that hurt like hell but I knew would make me feel terrific afterwards. As she worked, she would put one knee up on the table to get more oomph to her massage. As she oomphed, she would burp. Not a tiny little excuse-me kind of burp, but a loud from the bottom of her stomach burp. As the little clock on the table ticked away, the burps became more frequent. I thought, wow, I must be an absolute mess or that green slime was doing something terrible to her insides. Then, at exactly  one hour after she walked in the room, she walked out. I figured that was my cue to get dressed and go out and do the insurance bit.

She was waiting there for me for a post-massage chat. “How do I feel?” she asked. I had to admit that I felt totally relaxed albeit a little washed out and shaky on my legs. She offered me some green slime. I settled on water. Then I asked because I had to ask: what was it with all the burping? In a very serious, technical kind of voice, she answered that when she burped she was pulling toxins out of my body through hers and out in the burp. What could I answer to that? If I could get toxins out of my body in a one hour massage and not have to fast and drink green slime, why not? So I made another appointment.

I went to Crazy Helen for years until she filed for bankruptcy and lost the fabulous studio and all the cool furniture. But I never forgot her or her burp treatment. I sort of wish she was still around so I could go down and see if she could burp away the blues that I’m hanging out in today. But I think I’ll have to burp these away all by myself. Maybe I should go down to the corner and buy some ginger ale to get the burping treatment started. But, even without the burp, I feel better already just thinking about Crazy Helen.  Maybe that’s how her burping magic worked all along.