Friday, October 9, 2009

leave me a massage

Getting massaged in China is good for so many reasons. Chief among them, of course, is they give you really flowy pajamas to wear that hearken you back to Saturday mornings in front of the tube watching Eek the Cat and X-Men. Not to mention, it feels good to have someone use their fist as a billy club and nail you in your lower back, over and over, which, thankfully for me, does not hearken back to childhood days. It's nice to pay less than $10 for 2 hours of full body mincing. It's also nice to lay on your stomach while someone suctions cups of fire onto your back and it's even nicer when your masseuse comments on how white your butt is while she's doing it. The procedure, ba huo guan, is supposed to suck the cold out of your body, and the darker the circles left on your back, the worse your health is. After seeing my red circles, I was told my health was li hai (great), while Ryan's was bu tai hao (not too good). Ryan's masseuse also told him to not leave China.

"Don't leave," she said in Chinese, "You can find a wife here."

This isn't the first time a woman has told us that. Last year the woman who sweeps the area around the campus lake told us not to go anywhere. There are plenty of girls here, she told us. Our visit to the masseuse was also a nice gauge of our Chinese speaking abilities. I was able to actually carry a superficial conversation with my masseuse, whereas last year we relied solely on our Chinese friend in the room. She didn't like, however, when I told her she was being too rough in Chinese (and with a little Charades). Her smile faded into an instant frown. I was sure to tell her once she continued that it was very shu fu (comfortable). All the masseuses in the room were from our city, Baoding, except for mine. She grew up in Shanghai. I asked her how she ended up in Baoding, hoping she would say true love or something romantic.

"I ran out of money," she told me.

I guess Chinese yuan burns as hot in your pocket as dollars do.

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