Monday 28 January 2013


I recently went back to my hometown to visit two of my closest friends. During this visit it happened to be one of their birthdays. And as you do, another friend and I wanted to take her out and do something fun to mark the occasion. I’ve always thought that birthdays are the perfect chance to do something life affirming or downright odd just to solidify that you made it another year. We decided to go to lunch (mundane, yes, but gals got to eat) as well as try this new massage place to get our feet rubbed – okay it sounds strange when I write that, but let’s be honest, who doesn’t love their feet being rubbed and I don’t know about you, but my husband has a clause in our marriage vows that his hands will never be touching my feet. [It’s a phobia or some such nonsense].

Anyway, the place was called Happy Feet, or Happy Finish, or Happy You’re Being Rubbed By Someone Cause Your Husband Ain’t Going To Do It. Now I must preface this by saying that my friend whose birthday it was has OCD (not a flagrant use of the term either. She’s committed to the cause). She will happily admit to this so I’m not telling tales out of school or laughing at her expense. But throughout our lives certain experiences have been that much funnier because of her phobias and her deft navigation of our germ filled world. So when we entered the Happy Foot Palace it was done so with a nervous anticipation and slight giggle on all our parts; on first blush it all looked pretty standard (my friend of course was examining it with her laser germ-detection vision that can spot violators at ten paces). There was a little Asian vibe going on, big red massage chairs, Chinese lanterns, and large salad bowl looking things to wash your feet in (which I know she was thinking how thoroughly do they clean them in between foot washings).

The room was empty, the mystery heightened by a large grey curtain dividing the space, as we all nervously called out, wondering if Masseur Oz was going to step out and reveal himself. In a few moments, a man I can only describe as an Asian Liberace made an appearance and greeted us with a large smile and little to no command of the English language. He was holding his hands out as if he didn’t want to touch anything and they clearly had some oil or lotion on them; which hey, it’s a massage place, not so strange. But I could see my friend’s eyes go straight to his hands and her face was clearly thinking, ‘don’t even think about coming over here and shaking my hand or touching anything on my person.’ Due to the language barrier, Liberace did his best to communicate that we should come back by moving the hands on the clock to the desired time he wanted us back (and of course I was two hours off the rest of the day because of Liberace's loose interpretation with time keeping). 

Anyway, upon our return, Liberace put us in these three large massage chairs and covered us with towels and blankets and the like, which of course made my (OCD) friend blanche as he tried to take this mingy towel and enshroud her like a mummy. My other friend who is very tall was given this pink little fuzzy number to put her over her (or part of her anyway), and we all then waited for the event to begin, each of us starting to giggle nervously in anticipation…or fear really. So Liberace and a woman (also Asian) took their places by my side and that of my tall friend (yes, she has a name, but let’s just call her Tall Friend, shall we) and started to approach our heads with their hands clapped together like Miyagi in Karate Kid, rubbing them as if to say, we’re about to begin so you people better get ready.

Meanwhile, this guy, that I can only describe as Cliff from Cheers walked in wearing a pair of Wrangler jeans, a pager clipped to his belt loop, and a groovy mullet/quif hair thing going on in the back of his head. When he repositioned one of the Chinese lanterns and started talking in a loud enthusiastic voice about this and that (he was one of those people that talked a lot and loudly but you couldn’t quite figure out what he was talking about) I simply assumed he was the handyman. I realize this was a judgment on my part simply because he wasn’t in keeping with the whole Asian vibe, but in our defense, he did stick out like a sore thumb. Anyway, it soon became apparent that he was the masseur of my OCD friend, which for some reason I found highly hysterical, and caused me to burst out laughing. She, now covered like a burn patient, was also laughing as Cliff was talking up a storm and using phrases like, ‘this lotion is the potion, I mean the real stuff!’ which, well, was slightly disconcerting and simultaneously hysterical.

So knowing her the way I do, as Cliff lubed up his hands with this special lotion I saw her eyes bug as he lunged for her face and cupped her cheeks like an octopus and then proceeded to rub this mystery lotion into her face and hair leaving her to look a tad greasy. She doesn’t do greasy. In her graceful (yet hysterical way due to laughter) she made it apparent that she was not the 'face to be rubbed by strangers' kind of girl. My other friend meanwhile was also trying to find off her man from touching her face (for other reasons that aren’t important to this blog) so you heard the two of them protesting in between fits of laughter, ‘No no, it’s feet, we’re here for feet. We’re good with feet, just feet!’ I of course, being a jetlagged puddle of ambiguity gave my woman permission to rub my face, head, etc. Hell she could rub my brain if she could figure out how to get to it. When I have jetlag I’m incredibly amenable.

They then covered our eyes with towels – to which my friend let out a little squeal as some foreign washcloth on her face is (again) not her idea of fun - and they set to work. I of course lifted my towel so I could see, as half my amusement was coming from watching my friend’s reactions as Cliff grabbed her feet muttering happily under his breath. Needless to say, the brunt of the massage was pretty damn good and we suddenly found ourselves all drifting off into a state of mind numbing silence. Until of course my lady and Liberace moved onto the technique of lifting our leg, bending our knee into our body and giving our thigh/ass area a strong WHACK. Trust me, when you’re not expecting this, you can jump a few feet. My woman also had very long nails of which she would dig into my toes with a disconcerting vehemence, causing me of course to let out a little YELP. To which then Liberace would say to her under his breath, ‘Softer! Softer!’ I got the feeling this was not the first time her nails were an occupational hazard.

By the time we wrapped up, we were in such a fogged state that my tall friend looking for the price of the treatment ripped a placard out of the window display (accidentally of course) and caused me to burst into hysterics again. This of course prompted Cliff to turn to me and say, ‘Keep laughing, Sunshine. It’s mighty good for you.’

You see that, you never know when you’re going to stumble across Yoda (aka Cliff) in a massage parlour to remind you what’s important in life.


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