After a long working week my Girlfriend and I decided to go to one of those Chinese massage places that have been popping up all over the place in recent years; I never knew so many people wanted to be touched up by complete strangers... they should try the public transport system in Japan.
It was a cold and wintry sort of autumn day, and every shop had set their heating to 35 degrees in lieu of actually wearing warmer clothes. Every time you walked into a new place you had to strip down to your undies to survive the change in temperature, and then once the browsing was complete you braced yourself and charged into the shitty weather once again.
I do not understand how this is good for business. We make the difference in temperature between the shop and outside so ludicrous that we make every one come into our shop feeling sick. Yeah! Woo! Because there ain’t no business like people associating your goods with the sniffles business. If you continuously go to one extreme temperature to another, inevitably your nose is going to run so fast, conservationists are looking at harvesting the run off.
Massage parlours are no exception. If anything they are worst. Except that new “bikini clad” massage parlour on South Road, I reckon they do not even need to plug in an urn to boil water in that place.
My girlfriend and I both chose a “neck and shoulders” massage from parlour menu. She shouts me as I have no money on me, because she is awesome, and I am led into a curtained off area trying so hard to be a room; my girlfriend is taken into the “room” next to mine. My massage dude tells me to take out my keys, wallet, and phone and to take off my jacket, shoes, lose items and nothing else. He is looking at me dead in the eye as he says this; obviously people have been mistaken about the level of privacy this false room provides. Turns out they use a chamois like cloth over your clothes to massage; no need for nakedness... or fun it seems.
All about the room there are a few chairs about the place, an indoor pot plant looking worse for wear, a tub full of my things (I put them there, they did not rob me), pictures of relaxation imagery, a massage table with millions of towels underneath, and a speaker pumping out the hollow wooden relaxing sounds of a relaxed bamboo flute player. Everyone about me is serene and calm, and as subtlety as I could, I try to snort up the booger trying to escape.
The dude puts a pillow with a face hole over the face hole in the massage table, lays face hole tissue over the face hole, and then motions of me to lie down with my face in the hole. I lay down with my arms dangling down either side of the table, with my face in the face hole, and the dude proceeded to go to town on my shoulders. It was awesome. First he went with the “hello darling let me help you relax” teenage shoulder rub, and bam! I was in the relaxation elevator to heaven.
About halfway through, after he spent more than an acceptable time on my neck, he returned to my back. He started using his forearm to press into the muscles that travel alongside my spine; pressing hard and then slowly working his way up. It was an odd experience. It was pain when he pressed down, but when he lifted I was floating. As he got higher, he pushed down enough to encourage the air out of my lungs. It would have been fine with my mouth open, but it pushed out through the nose and loosened up the thin runny booger hanging about inside.
I feel a drop starting to form.
I opened my eyes in a panic; my head was all foggy from endorphins. Underneath my face and under the table were a bunch of towels and the container of face tissue. I needed to wipe away the booger before it made a break for it. I tried to reach my nose with a hand just to wipe it away, but the table was too wide and all I do is just look like I'm trying to give it a reach around. The man pushes down again, I could feel the booger droplet getting bigger and sliding out of my nose. I had to do something, but I was pinned. My muscles were too relaxed to respond, and my worries and stress started to drift off with the music. The dude pushes down again.
There was nothing I could have done. A teardrop of snot lands in the container of face tissues. I can see it discolouring the paper as my germs soak into the paper. That is what the paper was for, but I imagine the company had thought the paper to be in a closer proximity to the face. Never the less, I was getting my fair share of raw materials.
The man pushed down again and another droplet escaped from me into the container; no amount of bamboo flute can make you relax after that. “You must relax,” he said to me as I stiffened up. What could I do? Should I have stopped him and told him? I tried to get up, I was more alert than before but I was still powerless. The man pressed harder to fight my building tension.
Drip drip drip...
Faster than before booger is coming out of my nose; I could see the discolouration spreading across the tissue, like the red weed from War of the Worlds.
Drip drip drip
My mind was racing and un-relaxing. All the hard work the man put into the 15 minutes on my back had gone into my muscles, out of my nose, and into the tray beneath me. There was no going back. I then noticed the man had stopped.
“Sit up please.” I got up slowly. I turned to him sheepishly. He looked bored... not what I was expecting. He had not seen my drips. He had not noticed the soiled tissue. How dare he be bored! Fuck him. If there was no professional curiosity as to why all the work he did was going to waste, then fuck him and fuck the container of red weed tissue. Righteousness took over me. This man obviously only took his job for face value and he did not care. Then why should I care? Industrialised massage was what it felt like; rubbing people down on a large scale with no individual considerations. Normally I would have been excited on the prospect, but now it sickened me.
He finished the massage, my girlfriend paid, and we departed walking away floating on cloud nine. She felt better, I felt cheapened but justified. After that first drip I thought I was going to have a guilt riddled evening, I had the clearest sinuses in South Australia, and I did feel pretty good.