Balinese massage parlour
This story of a massage parlour climaxes, excuse the innuendo, when the worker states “finish massage” but the customer mistakenly hears it as a question – “penis massage?”. Awkward. The client is, of course, me. And this was just the end of a rather anxious hour.
It shouldn’t be this way. The whole idea of a massage is to relax; to lose yourself in the moment; allow the stress to be released from every fibre of your body as the experienced hands work their wonders.
The problem is, when you’re getting a massage in a place like Asia, you’re never quite sure if there will be an offer for those hands to work wonders on a part of the body that wouldn’t normally be included.
Here we have the unhappy beginning of the happy ending. The fears of those who simply want a no-thrills massage but aren’t quite sure what kind of establishment they’re in.
The Balinese massage I was getting, like most, was already quite sensual. Warm oil is poured onto your back. As those hands move up and down your back, they seem to go a little lower every time. The paper underwear you’ve been given to rather unsuccessfully appease your modesty are pushed down a little further. Not many people are this intimate.
So perhaps that’s when the idea first gets planted in my mind. It wasn’t there when the touts first approached me on the street. It wasn’t there as I walked into the store and chose my program. It wasn’t even there as I slipped out of my clothes and lay down on the bed. No, it was when I have another person’s hands caressing my body, touching my trigger points, knowing exactly what to do to make me feel so comfortable.
To make matters worse, there are no other customers in the massage parlour. It’s a large room on the second floor with about ten beds. Each bed has curtains around it for privacy. As I lie with my head pointing down and my lower back being stroked, I consider that the curtains wouldn’t do much to muffle any sounds… if this was the kind of place where inappropriate sounds were to be made. Having said that, we are the only two people in the room so noise is not going to be an issue on this occasion.
Although there’s a very good chance this is a legitimate service, the thought is there and it’s going to scratch away through every of the sixty minutes that I should be relaxing. Potential scenarios start to play out in my head and I consider the options to get out of a sticky situation. To be honest, most of the solutions seem quite easy, but thinking about them is still distracting my mind from whatever it should be doing (which is probably not much).
So, sixty minutes later, when it ends, my head is spinning with these thoughts. Everything has been professional… not really surprising. But when I hear the words “finish massage”, accented by that Asian politeness, and there’s the aforementioned awkward moment, I realise that perhaps it’s not me who has been most anxious.
Just don’t ask about when I offer an extra bit of cash at the end and explain that “it’s just the tip”.