I’ve been for a massage several times since I’ve lived in Taiwan, and it’s true; you never you what you’re going to get. I ask for a one hour full body oil massage, sort of the standard. But each time, something surprising happens.
The first time I went in, I was immediately surprised by how little regard the woman had for my modesty. Here I am, lying naked and vulnerable on a table, and this old woman is just sort of flinging towels around and groping me in very nearly inappropriate places. Granted, she knew what she was doing. Her experienced fingers moved deftly from one knotted muscle to the next, but it was very clear who was in charge in this situation. Toward the end of the massage, she surprised me by hopping up on the table and hoisting my leg up on to her shoulder and bending it in all sorts of unnatural ways. Who would have thought one old lady could be so strong?
The second time I returned to this place, I had big knots in my neck and was in a bit of pain, which this same old woman quickly detected. Pain seemed to be one of the few English words she knew. After the time was up, she got out some sort of peppermint scented salve and proceeded to knead it into the tight spots on my neck. She then vigorously scraped the area with some sort of flat-edged instrument which left red welts and bruises on my neck. I must admit though, that my muscles were more relaxed afterwards.
When I walked into the room this time, I noticed a tray next to the massage table laid out with sinister looking black plastic devices of various shapes and sizes. One looked like a shoe horn, rounded and scooped on one end and coming to a blunt point on the other. It turns out these devices were used for scratching my head, which mostly felt good. I could tell it was definitely getting the blood flowing. The biggest surprise every time I go for a massage and something I always forget in between is how amazingly good it feels to have your ears massaged. Who would have thought that squeezing your ears could be so relaxing and enjoyable?
I’m feeling much more pleasant and relaxed now after that massage, as well as baking 21 of the most gorgeous chocolate cupcakes I’ve ever seen. They are in my fridge right now awaiting a cherry jam filling, sticky chocolate frosting, and a bright red crown of cherry. I’m really excited about decorating/eating them. Now I just need to find someone to share them with.