Come right in! Yes, we are open. You want a massage? Good, good! We are very good at it.
I wasn’t very nervous about my lack of language since my friend, Betsy, was with me and she could speak Chinese. We were there to massage our sore spots. I had a sore hip joint and she had a stiff leg from being hit by a scooter and breaking it(her leg, not the scooter, unfortunately) over a year ago.
As we waited in a darkened room for our ‘brothers’, I entertained her with the story of my first therapeutic massage in the Philippines with my friend, Leslie. This one was a bit different. At this massage we are fully dressed. We just took off our shoes.
The darkened room suddenly lit up and a man with a ladder marched in and made his way past us to the corner of the small room to fix some wires dangling from the ceiling. He pushed one massage bed into the other and commenced working. We looked at each other and were glad only one of us needed a bed (me) while the other would use a chair.
Betsy’s ‘brother’ came in feeling along the wall and welcomed us. He sat Betsy in the lounge chair and left to get a bucket of warm water for her feet. The electrician decided it would be better to turn off the lights and use a flashlight held in his mouth to finish the job. The whole time he is working he’s carrying on a running conversation (yes, with the flashlight there) with someone in the hallway who was watching him through the open window to the room.
People from this city do not speak softly. We’ve been told it hearkens back to the days when the workers at the harbor on the mighty Yangtze river had to shout to be heard. They’ve never stopped.
My ‘brother’ finally arrives and has me get up onto the bed. The other guy deftly brings in a full bucket of warm water without spilling a drop or running into anything. Hmmm. My guy quickly realizes I don’t speak much Chinese as Betsy begins translating what I need. This doesn’t stop him from asking me a million questions.
Slowly he begins kneading my back, testing how much pressure I can handle. We come to an agreement and he gets to work. As he feels his way around my body and the bed, which was stilled pressed up against the other bed, the electrician yells that he’s working here. The ‘brother’ responds that so is he. The repair is finished eventually and my guy makes his way around the other side of the bed. It was a relief to me and my right buttocks!
Then he comes to my tender hip joint. As he’s asking where it hurts he’s pressing deeply. When I direct him to the actual spot he exclaims that it’s my bone, not a muscle. Yes, I knew that. In Chinese the word for muscle and chicken is the same, just a bit different tone. I only knew the word for chicken, so I was amused for a while that my hip was being equated with a chicken thigh or something. My chicken thigh was to be the tastiest, most tenderized piece of meat on the planet! But alas, my bone wasn’t helped by the method and he moved on to my left buttocks. Sigh.
All in all, the experience was tolerable, affordable, and made me relaxed for the rest of the day. The light got fixed, the room quieted down somewhat and our ‘brothers’ seemed to miraculously regain some of their sight as the massage ended and we went to pay. Wide open eyes and smiles said goodbye to us as we left the establishment.
I think I’ll go back someday. Thanks Betsy.