Kaohsiung Goings-On

I’ve been living in Kaohsiung, Taiwan for over two months now. Here’s an update of some interesting events that have taken place over the course of the last couple of days. So yeah, I had Tinder and OkCupid accounts for a hot second, a short stint, and a very brief moment as of 2:30 in the morning on Wednesday. My return to the world of online “banter,” dating, and annoyance literally lasted for a total of eight hours—seven of which I was asleep. I found that OKC boasts of exactly 9 eligible men in Kaohsiung, none of which I found even the slightest bit attractive in regards to physicality or personality. So basically, that was worthless. And then, good, old Tinderoni proved to not be much better. I ended each hesitant right swipe with a resigned exclamation of “whatever” and my fingers quickly grew tired of all the lefties I was dishing out. I must have awoken with a sense of clarity because deleting both apps thirty minutes later occurred without any disappointment.

Around 11 PM that night, I ended up getting a professional massage—if you can’t get it for free, buy it! Joking . . . but really, I’m a western girl in Asia, so it’s more of an accurately cruel joke. But just the same, it was . . . good. I hesitate with my assessment of any professional massage I receive because for me, it’s like dealing with grief in the respect that it puts me through multiples stages (some enjoyable and others far from it).

First of all, I sincerely believe that deep down, every masseuse has sadomasochist tendencies. I once heard a story from an old-coworker of mine whose longtime girlfriend took pleasure in clipping his fingernails and toenails too short so that they would bleed. For some reason, that story always enters my brain when I fancy a massage. I think that your average masseuse loves doling out pain legally. However, I REALLY want to become one of those people who adamantly proclaims that they LOVE massages and they use the phrase, “the harder the better” as if they can peer deep into my hidden, wimpy soul and mock me. I’ll get there someday, but last night was not it.

Now, due to the language barrier, I’m unsure if what I’m doing most of the time is really what I’m supposed to be doing. I had no clue how much clothing I was supposed to remove, so I simply stripped down to my thong and threw on the short robe they had given me. (There’s nothing worse than a massage with clothing on, thanks for schooling me on that one, Thailand). My masseuse was caught off-guard by me at first—she walked into the room and then peeked back out of the curtain and I could hear the masseuse next door inform her that I was American. Great, I thought, we’re already off to an awesome start.

She gestured to have me lie down on my stomach and the first stage of Brittany’s Massage Terror began. I call this stage: Ongoing Battle. Going into each massage, I hope that it’ll be different than the last and so I clear my mind and act like I’m just like every other person that receives a massage in exchange for money. It doesn’t take long for my masseuse to hate me. They always start out so nicely—they get out the oil and lather you up (and the wimpy side of me is all about that), but soon, I swear that the masseuse’s eyes begin transforming your body into a punching bag. The masseuse didn’t go to school for nothing and they’re going to show you who’s boss.

I always like to think that my reactions to pain, discomfort, pleasure, and every emotion ever are very obvious to read. Apparently not. And since I barely speak a lick of Chinese, words were useless, so I pulled my head out of the hole in the bed and conveyed to my masseuse by using hitting motions, that those were “Ow,” and then I informed her that when she wasn’t beating the shit out of me, that I would probably be laughing. I’m sure that after that, she began counting down the rest of the minutes that she’d have to be spending with me, which equated to a very ambitious hour on my part.

I lost my ongoing battle with truly relaxing during the massage and proceeded into Stage 2: Discovering that I’m in a room with a professional torturer. I have a ton of knots in my muscles, which is a real treat for a professional masseuse, but not a treat for me. They don’t gently knead the knots like a friend would; on the contrary, those knots are their mortal enemy and they don’t fuck about breaking them up. I’m not crier, but there were moments when my brain was desperately asking me what it should do. Don’t show weakness, was all that I could tell my powerless mind. However, that’s a bit difficult to do when your masseuse has you lying almost fully naked on your stomach with your face jammed into a small hole that only allows you to see her feet and the sheets hanging from the bed. I also learned that my masseuse for the night was really intrigued by my varicose veins and she took full pleasure in pressing as hard as possible into them, which produced an excruciating amount of pain. I quickly indicated that that shit needed to stop.

Oddly enough, Stage 2 always gives way to the third stage, which is Tickle Torture (I sort of like this). Most people that know me well know that I am actually able to tickle myself, so when I’m faced with someone else touching my skin, the laugh fest is on. I’m sure my masseuse was really confused that the girl who was writhing around in pain just moments earlier was now laughing her fucking head off. It made no sense. I especially can’t deal with people touching the left side of my back or my thighs and so I was losing my shit. I had to keep apologizing for my inability to keep my body still. How people are able to fall asleep during a massage will forever befuddle me. At least my masseuse laughed right along with me and I squirmed and cracked up uncontrollably.

About halfway into the massage, the two of us seemed to discover a happy medium. She realized that her deep-tissue skills would be totally wasted on me, but that I would be fully content with just having her rub oil on me, while gently pushing into my flesh. Unfortunately that was short-lived and I ended my massage by being repeatedly punched in the head. That was a new experience for me, but I guess that’s how the Taiwanese get down. I could take it or leave it, but a small part of me found it strangely enjoyable. After that, she grabbed some hot towels and wiped me clean of all the oil on my body, which I really did not understand or appreciate. I feel like at midnight on a weekday, if I’m out getting a massage, that’s a clear indicator that I’m not on my way to meet up with someone later on for a sexual rendezvous. Therefore, if I want to leave the massage parlor all greased up, then that should be my prerogative. So that’s that. I survived another massage in Asia.

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