Is this what the world has come to? A decade removed from the prostitution game, and they go and throw a legitimate massage parlor into the mix? From where I stand, especially eight years into marriage, it’s more difficult than ever to get laid, which says nothing of the humiliation any red-blooded American male has to experience by expecting a happy ending, only to be forced to endure sixty long-ass minutes getting an actual massage. A good massage. One that might actually pass muster in a luxury spa, for fuck’s sake. How was I to know that a storefront — one that says only “Massage” above the door — was actually a place of business, where the only illegal item on display was the Saigon boat woman who suddenly appeared as if transported from the basement sweat shop? I mean really, is there any logic to a place that cannot be located in any phone book — you know, because it doesn’t have an actual name — being above board and reasonably priced to boot? So instead of a Tuesday afternoon of seed splattering and exotic, exaggerated Asian moaning quite reasonably passing for genuine pleasure, I was forced to slink back to my car unfulfilled, unsatisfied, and totally perplexed. My worldview, one that includes the set-in-marble axiom that dark-skinned women speaking fewer than ten words of English and residing in the United States will do anything for money, will never again be the same.
Who runs this joint? Don’t the human traffickers who stole these Vietcong from the rice paddies know that wives can rub my fucking back, but it takes almond eyes and calloused hands to set my cock a-throbbing? God, it all seemed so easy at first: I walked in, eyed my surroundings, and saw that what appeared before me was a waiting room only a den of iniquity could love. It was a mess to be sure; empty, haphazard, and by all appearances the sort of operation that is used to picking up stakes at a moment’s notice. There was a register of sorts, and a credit card machine, though the madam informed me that it was broken, and if it was cash I desired, there was an ATM down the street. Cash only! Of course I was going to get laid; perhaps even with two or three of the little princesses while candles burned down to their nubs and the tunes of the Orient took me away on a wave of perversion. The price guide — a hastily constructed chart better suited for a street vendor pushing bratwurst — held more good news: $40 for ½ hour, and $45 for a full hour. Jesus, who the hell would select the former? Me, of course, figuring that my rapid fire performance abilities were the only reality worth saving five dollars over. Yes, I did the math, but at best I’d take ten minutes of this motherly woman’s time. Who knew I’d used every minute of that half-hour, and an additional chunk of time to boot, because I had all the good fortune of a man rapidly running out of rope.
So back I went, to a large room that continued to maintain the illusion of lust and disease. While no water dripped from the ceiling, and I failed to notice anything crawling along the floor, it was a depressing, soul-stealing room nonetheless, with an oddly placed washer and dryer in the far corner. Once again, the light bulbs went off: where else to wash the soiled sheets and savaged linens that stole the oxygen from these little rooms? By my count, there were six rooms, each numbered with care, and upon reaching my destination, I thought again that my money would be well spent. There, before me, was a massage table, a pile of towels and washcloths, and a small table containing ointments, lotions, and oils. I could feel the cool touch of the demure little wallflowers awaiting my member, and my excitement made me lose my mind for a moment. Instead of immediately undressing, I sat atop the table, prompting the lady to mutter, “You take off shirt and pant, okay?” She left briefly, and I obediently removed the clothing, knowing full well that upon her return, she’d be glowing with the joy of four sawbucks on her hip, rather than dreading the fleshy journey ahead. The door opened again, and if my eyes did not deceive me, she had shed her top for something a little more revealing. “On stomach,” she cried, with a schoolmarm tone that was more jolting than enticing. But it would be all I’d have to cling to in the lonely hour ahead.
What followed — amidst eye-rolling and groans of frustration — was your standard massage school treatment. Grinds, rubs, pushes, and digs, yes, but nothing even remotely flirtatious. Having never had a professional massage before, it felt pretty good, but the minutes passed like days in anticipation of my long-delayed orgasm. The hands felt nice, and there was that crazy move I dubbed the “Saigon Shake,” but I remained as flaccid as if stripped bare before my grandmother. On and on and on she went, deviating slightly from her routine, and only to smack my thighs with a stinging awareness. “She’s teasing,” I thought, and I stayed focused despite the overbearing tedium. Suddenly, my sweet Vietnamese flower left the room, and outside the door, I heard the clipped, ear-piercing squawk of her kind speaking to a much younger sounding woman. Ah-so, I imagined, here was the rub at last. Mama set the tone and warmed me up, and daughter dear would come back in and finish me off. The family values angle appealed to me, and without much effort, I became violently aroused. Despite being face down and near suffocating, I smiled to the gods of lust, and awaited the creak of that battered door. And so it opened. Only the hands that grabbed the fat of my flank were depressingly familiar, and no younger fingers were ever going to make me forget.
The half-hour ended with a whimper, and thinking that only the full paying customers received the king’s treatment, I forked over an additional $5 for another thirty minutes of time. Before the remaining part of my session got too far, however, I made inquiries: “Do you offer any other services?” I didn’t want to blurt out that I demanded satisfaction, as I knew there was a nuanced way to all human interactions, up to and including getting sucked off by an indentured servant. “No fank you,” she said, confusing me further, as I was asking her to play with my dick, not offering her a glass of tea. “What about the shower room?” I asked, knowing that such a locale had to include her tongue and my nutsack. “Oh, pipe broken, no work,” she chirped, as if she were imparting good news, for chrissakes. So what now? I submitted to even more of the massage, now so boring that I might as well be playing chess. Should I grab her? Bluntly point to my cock? Smirk like a tomcat and start jerking off? No, I thought, these dames made all the moves, and I wasn’t going to risk that this indeed might be on the up and up. If it were a licensed, bonded, tax-paying outfit, I would be beyond embarrassed if I cast aspersions on their enterprising character. No, I sat tight, and kept hoping that the hands now soaked with lotion would reach inside my underwear. Speaking of the underwear, shouldn’t I have known what I was in for when, after asking if I had to remove them as well, she answered, “No, okay.” Fuck, man, this was a job! She had no interest in sex at all! If stereotypes failed me at these moments, I’d be cast adrift, perhaps with no hope of return.
And so it ended. I had been hard for at least ten of my sixty minutes, but no human contact with said member was ever made. She asked me to sit up, thinking that glory might come at last, and all she did as a final act was rub me down with a hot towel. Why the rubdown? I had made no exertion, and shit, neither had she, the tramp. As I leaned over, staring at my pile of clothes, I asked, in sad, hushed tones, “Is that it?” It was, and I grabbed the bundle and went about pulling myself together. As I stood up and considered the woman before me, I noticed that yes, she was in fact a pleasant-looking woman, and though likely pushing the forty-ish barrier, she would have been a fine conquest, albeit one purchased on the cheap. And so I left, wondering how I had ended up this pathetic and distraught, being perhaps the only man alive or dead who exited a massage parlor having received an actual massage. The decade away from the game has clearly made me naïve and even a little dumb, and I’ll be unlikely to try this again. After all, if you can’t trust a dilapidated shop with tightly shut blinds and no furniture in front save a packing crate to deliver the goods, there’s no real future left to believe in.