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The Rubdown Lowdown

Complex. Cryptic. Complicated. This is how men describe women. Whereas guys claim to be simple creatures easily won over with a frosty beer or an unobstructed glimpse at boobies, gals are perceived as inscrutable human vaults whose hearts and, well, parts are guarded by a system of locks so intricate they can be opened only with the precise combination of money, breeding, and charm.

But that’s bunk. It’s hooey. Truth is there’s an easy and too-infrequently-used shortcut to our affection. Want to crack our safes?

Learn to give a decent massage.

That’s right. An old-fashioned, no-cost, fingers-on-flesh rubdown.

This is no hush-hush secret, I assure you. I’m not breaking a classified girl code by telling you this. We want you to know it! We want you to use it! We can’t figure out why so many of you are wasting your time sculpting your calves at the gym when you ought to just be squeezing holy hell out of those squishy office balls that build hand strength. Squeeze, brothers. Squeeze!

Ladies melt under the benevolent touch of a warm-palmed fella intent on liquefying our tension. Something unexpected transpires between generous hands and underappreciated flesh — something far more satisfying, more thrilling, than you get with a paid massage. It’s sensual. It’s electric. It’s bloody alchemy is what it is.

Here’s proof: A friend of mine knew a guy in college who always had women on his arm, even though the dude had green teeth. Literally. Green. She was curious: How could this be? So she went on a date with him — and when he said, “I’d like to give you a massage,” she discovered the soul-shuddering, stress-expunging appeal of this moss-mouthed Casanova.

It’s not a fluke. My girlfriends agree there are few things sexier than a man who gives a great massage. I asked them: What could you forgive in a fella if he could lay you to waste with a mind-melting neck-and-shoulder, or foot-and-leg, rub? Their responses ranged from “mild ignorance” to frequent gas-passing (note: she doesn’t speak for all of us).

“I would absolutely overlook anything,” confessed one. “He knows it is my major weakness.”

Some gals insist that a great sense of humor is the one thing sexier than killer massage skills, and I don’t disagree. Still, I’d argue that laughter itself is a sort of internal massage that tickles the brain even as it does a number on the lungs and abs. Plus, funny is an attribute like height; if you don’t have it, you can’t get it — but with a little practice, any schmo can learn to jiggle a rhomboid loose, n’est-ce pas?

I’m a big personal-boundaries girl, but I’ve found myself moaning aloud in public places when friendly men have said, “Boy, do you look tense” and taken it upon themselves to manage, and even manipulate, my uptightness by kneading my admittedly granite-like trapezius. It’s like the Vulcan death grip; I’m powerless to resist.

And then there’s the whole please-let-me-give-you-immense-pleasure thing, and I shouldn’t have to explain why a man who enjoys giving as much as receiving is a keeper. Unless, of course … he doesn’t.

“Everyone knows that when your fella gives you a massage,” said one woman I asked, “all he wants is sex.”

Is this true? Probably. My husband says the prospect of sex is the main reason men do just about anything, including bathing. But at the risk of shattering my complex, cryptic, and complicated façade, I’ll say this about a man who massages with ulterior motives: It’s impossible to rub me the wrong way.

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