Sunday, December 18, 2011

Don't Touch Me There! (Part IV): Why Don't You Make It Hurt So Good?

No pain, no gain here in Bangkok!
Never again.

That's what I promised myself the last time, when I had that Thai massage that went too far.

Never. Again.

But last night wasn't just any night. After one week on Koh Samui, Nicholle, my best friend from high school and college, and her sister Noelle were in Bangkok for a 14-hour layover before flying home to the United States. I hadn't seen Nicholle since we celebrated our 40th birthdays -- which were two days apart -- two and a half years ago in Buenos Aires. And I hadn't laid eyes on Noelle live and in the flesh in more than 20 years.

We'd have to make their one night in Bangkok count, and few things scream "Bangkok!" like drinks in Lebua's rooftop Sky Bar, where scenes from The Hangover 2 were filmed (that's us above, taking in the view from 63 stories up) and an hour of body therapy in one of the myriad massage parlors dotting Silom Road. If nothing else, a massage would be the perfect intermission between dinner at Noodle and more drinks at DJ Station.

So inside we went. Noelle headed upstairs for her traditional Thai massage, and Nicholle and I settled into side-by-side recliners and waited for our foot-reflexology sessions to begin. I warned my guy about the ugly bunion on my left foot -- as if he wouldn't have noticed it -- and begged him to be gentle. He nodded, but I wasn't sure if he'd understood a word I'd said.

After a short soak and rub down in warm water -- which would have been fine by me had it lasted the entire hour -- I realized that he hadn't. He tore into my feet with wild abandon and gusto. I wasn't sure if he was trying to pleasure me or punish me. No part of my foot -- bunion included -- was safe from his aggressive rubbing, kneading, pulling and cracking. I wanted to scream out in pain. I looked around me. All of us reflexology customers were in the same boat, and nobody but me seemed to mind what felt a little like torture. I glanced over at Nicholle, hoping for some commiseration. She was fast asleep!

I resolved to toughen up and deal with it. There was a tall cute guy two recliners down. If he happened to glance over at me, I didn't want him to see me flinching and grimacing. I'd have to pretend that I like it rough.

Come on, make it hurt so good!

Forty-five minutes later, it was over. And I must admit, I did feel a lot better than I had when I walked in. I suppose that's the goal, but isn't the journey supposed to be half the fun? For Nicholle, it was. Having her feet torn into had been so soothing, she said, that she had immediately dozed off. Noelle, who by now had come downstairs from her torture session, was elated and relaxed. The more pain, she insisted, the better.

I still don't know about that, but I had to admit that my hour of pain had left me feeling relaxed and rejuvenated, which is probably the happiest ending 250 baht can buy.

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