|That's not me, but you get the idea...|
I'm not sure what Bangkok has more of...bars or massage parlors. Perhaps it's no coincidence that both establishments are located directly next door to one another. You know, I scratch your back (or rub it anyway), and you scratch mine. That said, so what did the intrepid traveler do last night after downing a couple Singha beers in a nearby open air tavern? He did something he swore he would never do in his life. He got a massage.
Okay, so here's the deal: You approach several nice young Thai women who are hanging outside their two-story establishment. They're all attractive and laughing the hot humid night away. They dress not in uniforms, but they do wear matching blue polo shirts. I say, "I'd like a massage." One woman whom I'm guessing is next in line for massage duty, stands. "Right this way, sir." We head inside and she tells me to take my shoes off. Or jungle boots in this case. I dutifully obey. She then tells me to follow her upstairs.
So like I said, I've had a few beers but the buzz is quickly worn off as I'm led up a narrow staircase to a windowless room that contains maybe eight bare mattresses all laid out side by side on the floor. The only thing resembling AC are the numerous ceiling fans. The small thirty-something woman smiles and tells me to take my clothes off. "You mean, like everything?" I ask. She hands me a green smock that reminds me of the thing my doctor makes me wear when she performs my annual physical. "Put this on," she says, before heading out of the room for a minute. I undress and slip into the nothing piece of clothing.
When she comes back in she asks me to lie down on my chest. From there she straddles my back and what begins is not the gentle massage my girlfriends used to give me, but instead the torture. She doesn't gently rub my muscles with her with fingertips. Good God, she doesn't even use her fingers. She uses her elbows and fists to jam, twist, mash, maul, punch, slap, karate chop, dig, bend, and eventually, destroy the knotty tissue. How the hell can this little snowflake of a lady be so freaking strong?
I find myself making grunting noises and little pain-filled gasps that cause her to laugh. At one point, as my eyes tear up, I consider giving her a time out-T (I mean, shouldn't we have established a safety word first?), but my arms are locked in place by her knees. I can't move if I want to. Being a writer and a fiction writer at that, I picture two burly Taiwanese bandits entering into the room, stealing my wallet, my passport, my cash and even my clothing. I picture myself having to walk out into the Bangkok night in nothing but that flimsy blue smock, the entire Asian world laughing at my sorry ass.
At one point she makes me turn around and place my head in her...well mid-section. While she proceeds to massage my scalp, mother nature begins getting the wrong signals and the flag begins flying at full mast (nudge, nudge, say no more). Talk about wanting to disappear. For a second I think about making a joke, but then it dawns on me that for her, the sudden rise of Magic Johnson is probably an everyday/nightly occurrence. Oh, BTW, if you wish for a happy ending, you must head to the red light district further in the center of the city.
In the final analysis my first massage was an exhilarating experience, even if it did leave me feeling like Gumby. The nice woman gave me the full body massage that was promised on the billboard attached to the building's exterior. Not that I cooperated during the procedure. "You lift too many weight," she said. "You too tight. You no relax." I guess I was a crappy client. But what the hell, the price was right. Three hundred baht or about ten bucks US. I gave her an extra one hundred for her trouble.
As I'm putting on my boots back on outside on the front steps, I take a minute to converse with the girls. I ask them if they've ever been to New York. "You could do well there," I say. But they just laugh among themselves. "Too much work here," one of them says along with a cute giggle. "Why we ever go to New York?"
I guess she's right, too much business right here in Bangkok, servicing jerks like me. I bid them goodnight, and make my way back to the bar.