Awhile back I had the most outrageous massage experience in Taipei ever. It definitely tops my personal list of crazy “is this really happening?” moments.
One afternoon I went to my neighborhood massage place to get a 90 minute full body massage. Chinese massage is not know to be the most relaxing of the massages out there. Usually it involves pressure and pain. But nonetheless, in a culture that doesn’t encourage much physical contact between friends, I have resorted to paying people to touch me.
I settled into the massage table and the gal I hired went to work on me. After only about 10 or 15 minutes into it, she farted really loud. A big, robust fart. Since my face was buried in the massage table, I didn’t say anything. But what was there to say? She didn’t giggle or say “whoops!” or “excuse me.” She carried on, business as usual.
A bit later she farted again. And again. I just laid there in disbelief as she prodded and poked along my spine, dislodging my meat from the bones. I started to wonder if farting is considered more socially acceptable in Taiwan than in the United States. Nose picking sure seems to be. Perhaps this is no different.
My singular saving grace was that they were fragrance free farts, because the room was stuffy and warm.
About 45 minutes into the massage she began to check her phone. She had the volume on and someone was texting her. She set the phone on the massage table next to my head and feebly rubbed my shoulder as she texted back and forth with her pal, text tones chiming directly into my ear at full volume.
Now I was starting to get indignant. Maybe she couldn’t help the farting. But she could wait to check her phone and text her friends until after she finished the massage. Heck, when I’m working with a student I turn my phone’s volume off and I never casually send texts when someone is paying me for my time. Because I’m professional like that. Humph!
When I was finally about to lift my head out of the face cradle and chuck her phone across the room, she picked it up. I thought, “Oh good, she’s done.” WRONG. Her next move was to plop the phone on my BUTT and continue to meekly stroke my back as she texted some hot gossip or whatever to her friends. Or maybe she was texting some hot guy she met at KTV the weekend before. Who knows, but clearly it was urgent and far more important than the massage she was supposed to be doing.
Suddenly I began to find the whole situation amusing. I had a woman texting on my butt. I didn’t even care that I was paying for a massage I was essentially not getting. Story telling rights of that time I got the farting / texting masseuse in Taiwan was worth its weight in gold. It’s the kind of thing you can’t plan or hope for, like when I ordered a vegetarian pizza in Mexico and it came with a veggie medley of corn, carrots and peas, like the plastic bags of frozen veggies you find in the grocery store. The pizza was disgusting but the story is a legend.
Far from a happy ending, but seriously hilarious (an oxymoron?) I still go back to that massage shop but I haven’t seen that masseuse since. I never said a word to her manager, so if she got fired it wasn’t because of anything I said. Come to think of it, maybe those texts were about some fantastic new job opportunity, and she’s moved on to greener pastures. Who knows, but thank you gassy gal for a great story that will make me laugh for years to come!
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