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.
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!