Faux Pas Friday: Madame Massage

About this time last year, I passed a small Chinese massage parlor in my neighborhood and noticed a sign proclaiming a Special Discount in Honor of International Women’s Day. A one-hour massage for 35 euros.

Hmm, that sounds nice, I thought.

Nevermind that some of these ‘massage parlors’ are code for something else. Not all of them are. Right? (Right?) If they were celebrating women’s day, perhaps this one was on the up and up, I figured.

My first clue should have been when I passed by with Jerome later in the day. We were doing errands and I said, tiens, I am going to go get that massage! How often do I treat myself?

We walked in and the woman immediately started talking to Jerome.

“Actually, I would like the massage,” I said. “The special discount? Women’s Day?”

“Oh yes,” she said, and we made an appointment for later in the afternoon. “And for the monsieur?”

“No, just me,” I said.

“You are sure? Nothing for the monsieur?” she said, keeping her eyes on Jerome.

Huh.

Den of iniquity

I won’t say I didn’t have my doubts at this point (and I started rethinking those lace curtains that completely covered the windows and the odd human body diagrams on the door), but it must be that impulse that can so easily propel me : yeah, but either it’s a cheap massage or a good story. How can I go wrong?

Oh, it can go wrong. I came back at 6 PM and that’s when it really got hairy. Once shown to my room – a small, sketchy little hole – the “masseuse” walked in wearing a miniskirt. Uh-oh. Where was the exit again?

She asked whether I had ever had a massage before.

“Yes,” I said. At very reputable institutions, I wanted to add. How to let her know I knew what a professional massage was? That I certainly didn’t want any funny business? (And how do you even say funny business in French? Or Chinese? Or whatever planet I had suddenly found myself in, naked and afraid?)

Well, it was an uncomfortable hour. Nothing torrid happened, but as you realized much earlier than I did, I really shouldn’t have been there. I remained tense throughout the (what passed for a) massage – this might have been a clue to the woman that I really, really did not want her to touch me in any unprescribed ways.

As I was leaving I told them they might want to take down the Women’s Day special promotion as I thought it was kind of misleading. Besides, was it even working (besides on stupid little me?) I heard only men come in and out during my entire ordeal. (Shudder).

Sometimes I amaze myself. How I’ve lived nearly 10 years in large cities (New York + Paris), normally have street smarts, and yet occasionally display a naivete beyond words. Be kind, though. A dash of gullibility with the city veneer can be charming, right? (Right?)

This little episode might have stayed buried deep in my memory, quietly tucked away under layers of shame if I had not passed another one of these places on the way to the library (who knew! my library outings are so racy!) and seen an older gentleman duck furtively into it.

It’s all served its purpose, though. Material for today’s post!

Ok, so I have not only shared my verbal faux pas now, but also – well, things I probably shouldn’t share. The flood gates are open! Feel free to send in anything you deem appropriate (or inappropriate) for Faux Pas Fridays and receive a free shout-out!

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22 Responses to “Faux Pas Friday: Madame Massage”


  1. 1 Dani March 19, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    i can’t believe you went in there! i’m laughing… i’ve seen those deals and been curious too, i’m glad you solved the, um, thinly-lace-veiled mystery :)

  2. 3 Shannon March 19, 2010 at 12:34 pm

    I think the time I kissed the banker will go down in history as the worst Faux-Pas I’ve ever done.

  3. 7 PigletinFrance March 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    “I won’t say I didn’t have my doubts at this point”

    Sion, you have no fear! There is no way if I had some doubts that I would actually have gone back to the place and then proceeded to have a massage! WOW! You are brave and would probably make an excellent journalist – anything for a story hey?

    MDR!!!

    • 8 parisimperfect March 19, 2010 at 4:16 pm

      I’m going with your version here. Yes, yes, I was very *brave* wasn’t I? (rather than daft) :)

      I like the interpretation that I would make an excellent journalist – as I just *happen* to want to break into journalism. Who knew exposing myself to sketchy massage parlors could be my big break?! :)

      I do love a good story…

  4. 9 Kristin March 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Street smarts + naivete is a heartwarming combination. Don’t change that (just watch your bare back :-)

  5. 11 pariskarin March 19, 2010 at 4:53 pm

    Great story, and there you go again, chica: happy endings massages, comments about kissing bankers and priests… I dunno about you and this blog, girlie. It gets more risqué each time I visit. ;-)

    Hee hee — just giving you a bad time! :D

    This is a cute story in that I think everyone visiting or living in a foreign country has this kind of faux pas happen. Well, maybe not *exactly* like going into a happy endings massage parlor, lol, but similar.

    I had a really mild one happen yesterday, and it has happened before. One of my biggest issues in learning French is knowing only the “vous” forms of things, which is actually pretty good except for when it comes to speaking to kids. I let a kid go in front of me in the grocery store yesterday, and all I could say was “Allez! Je vous en prie” to invite him ahead of me (he was just buying his after school snack of three things to my full grocery cart) and then, when the kid said thank you so much and to have a nice day, I said “a voi aussi” – all using the “vous” form. Like I wrote, I guess it could be worse if it were the opposite, but I feel funny using the “vous” form with kiddos who are practically young enough to be my grandkids. Okay, grandkids is a stretch, maybe, but kids for certain. I need to brush up on my “tu” forms.

    Hope you have a good weekend, Sion, and seriously, girl, now that it is getting so nice out, we need to meet up for a coffee or something. Wanna do it next week? Email me if you have time! :)

    • 12 parisimperfect March 19, 2010 at 6:23 pm

      Haha, yeah, don’t know what gets into me on Fridays. I actually think I lost a reader because of it! (An “unsubscribe”) :)

      Oh well, just reporting the facts, here. The erm, very strange facts.

      I’ll email you. Next week is a bit crazy for me – friends in town, deadlines – but we’ll catch up soon! Bon weekend! :)

  6. 13 tanyaintransition March 19, 2010 at 5:13 pm

    I can’t stop laughing. I read the entire post with my mouth open in disbelief/laughter! Such a good ‘faux pas’ for a Friday. Thank you for the laugh.

  7. 15 Adam March 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm

    I once tried to book a table ‘pour deux’ by phone for a nice Valentine’s tête à tête with my girlfriend. When we arrived at the restaurant, they showed us to a table for 10 and asked us when all the others would be turning up. That’s when I really discovered how bad my accent was…

    • 16 parisimperfect March 19, 2010 at 6:26 pm

      Ah, 2 and 10. I think I have more trouble between 2 and 12. Not that it would make much of a difference in this case – I can just picture you and your girlfriend seated at a table with 8 empty chairs. So much for an intimate dinner. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. 17 Delana March 20, 2010 at 11:45 am

    Don’t worry about unsubscribes…keep writing the way you see it. That is what makes your blog so real and so much fun. Recently, a friend showed me a intricate project he has been working on for a long time…a beautiful model of an old airplane. I proceeded to tell him how stupid it was. I mispronounced the word for build and it came out sounding like the word for stupid. He looked surprised and hurt and I knew immediately that I had done it…once again.

    • 18 pariskarin March 20, 2010 at 12:00 pm

      “Here, here!” to Delana’s comment. Absolutely keep writing as you see it. Your blog is absolutely authentic and I would not want to be here if it *weren’t* that way. Everybody has their own Paris and has a right to that Paris they see and feel, but honestly, there is a lot of shallow stuff out there and it gets really boring. Yours is the antithesis of a boring blog — it is very real and very fun, as Delana says, too. Keep being true to yourself. For me, to have a little “off color” stuff in a blog is what makes things fun. :D I mean, c’mon. IMHO, your stuff has been really PG, PG-13 at the most and if folks can’t handle that, then they really should find one of those other pretty but shallow blogs, eh? ;-)

      Not next week, then, but soon, eh? Good luck with all you have going on, Sion! :)

      • 19 parisimperfect March 20, 2010 at 12:26 pm

        Aw, thanks for the love y’all :) Very nice to hear. Yes, I won’t worry too much. My intention is to keep the blog as real and fun as possible – I love knowing that people are enjoying it! :)

  9. 20 Relle July 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    OMG…please don’t tell me this is on rue Dauphine..Odeon? My friend gave me this red flyer a month or so ago…and apparently she had the 35 euro massage and said here..take this voucher it’s not bad…
    So I decide to go check out the location…and make a RDV coming up…and do you think I could find the place? Up and down I went..found the number but no business…just a door which lead to apartments…I decided then and there it was all a bit sus…

    Since this time – on two occasions I have stepped on these flyers literally flying around the town…hmmm…what’s that tell you!

    And I am STILL looking for a decent priced massage joint…

    • 21 paris (im)perfect July 21, 2010 at 1:16 am

      Ha. The place I went to was not on Rue Dauphine – but you’ll see these places all over Paris! Some I think can be legit. But others…well, not. Good luck finding a decent priced massage place. I’ll pass along any info I find. I actually am due for one at some point. I was given a gift card for a massage at a real spa. I’ll post a review!


  1. 1 Spreading Rumors and Indecent Searches « paris (im)perfect Trackback on April 30, 2010 at 9:08 am

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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