I just had a physical fight in a Korean nail salon. It’s a hot humid Wednesday, and it just so happens on Wednesdays they’ve got manicure pedicure specials near my office on Madison Avenue. They even throw in a 15-minute massage, all for $30.00. Not bad. So, my toes are Fiji, and my nails are filed round and coated Limo-Scene. Just darling with my adorable new silky lace tank top. Then I shuffle in their too-big flip-flops to the massage chair. James, the man who greets everyone at the door and instructs, “Pick culla,” Vanna Whites me to the massage chair. The chair is not in a private room; it’s beside the drying tables in a loud crowded area, so it might be a little hard to relax. For $30.00 it will do. I spread my legs and hunch into the chair, nuzzling my face into a leathery catcher’s mitt cradle apparatus, careful in my movements so as not to nick the polish.
I imagine James turns a timer for my 15-minute slot with him. It’s hard to completely relax when your masseuse punctuates his moments with you with “Bubye, come again. Bubye now.” And the occasional Korean bark. But I try. I try to clear my mind and stay in the present, reminding myself to drop my shoulders and relax my neck. He spends some time on my neck, pushing in knots and points with his fingers, hard. When massages are too hard, I sometimes try to will the clock forward and pray for the ding. But this is perfect. It feels like relief, and I imagine having a lover. It’s been too long since someone has touched me like this, so selflessly. Massages are intimate, especially near the wrists. I wish he’d spend more time on my neck and the base of my scalp. Instead, he spends a lot of time fannying about near my breasts. But it’s a massage, so you’re not quite sure he’s crossing the line. I mean, maybe he thinks your pectoral muscles are sore from all that lifting you do. Clearly James doesn’t know me very well. But as he’s massaging my neck with the palms of his hands, his fingers continue creeping lower and lower. It was like he was digging in a desk drawer for my pink erasers. He wouldn’t be satisfied until he found at least one.
Then he moves toward the outside, rolling my shoulders. It becomes a silent war. He pushes my shoulders back, to prop my chest up off the chair, so his hands can swing around to the front. “Okay, yes, bubye.” He says in a smile and nod to the regulars as they leave. He can’t get quite what he’s after because I won’t budge. I’m stiff full of stubborn, and there’s no way this man is getting in there. I know, you think I might be imaging things. I think so too, so I remind myself to exhale. Then, I swear to god, I hear his zipper. My eyes blink open, but his pants are zipped closed. Okay, sweetheart, breathe. And just as I begin to, his hands navigate toward my waistline, grabbing around it, hard. My eyes open again. It’s like I’m being taken from behind during good, dirty spank me seex. But then his hands zoom up and reach into my corner pockets. He begins to massage my sweaty armpits. I’m hoping I don’t smell all over his hands. I’m hoping he’ll just stick to my neck again. Instead he begins to spend all too much time trying to massage the sides of my breasts, trying to dig his fingernails under my weight. I’m telling you, it’s war. My body leans and pushes into the chair in protest. It’s my armor. I know I should tell him to just focus on my neck, but it seems impolite, like telling an ugly boy who keeps calling you that you just want to be friends before he’s really let on that he’s interested in more than friendship. I mean, maybe it’s all in my head, and then I just seem rude. Isn’t my time up yet?
Then he massages my palms, in a deep, I’m really trying to fcuk you way. Almost how a guy tries to show you how he’ll go down on you through a kiss. It’s their little preview. He then whispers to me, “Good massage no? Ha ha.” He actually says Ha. Ha. He doesn’t laugh. Then it happens. He stands behind me and rubs his hard penis against my back. I’m not confused; his pants don’t have pockets. He has wood. I want to leave. I blurt, “Has it been 15 minutes?”
“Oh, no it’s been haf owa. Fo you, special massage. Not so busy today. Good time now.”
Then he pulls my shoulders off the chair and massages my temples and taps on my chin, then cheekbones, giving me a facial without the cream or the extractions. Then his hand begins to open my lips. I know my saliva is on his hand, and I try to tighten my lips closed, but I can’t quite do it. Then he leans in again and pushes the weight of himself against me. And it becomes clear that I just had a happy ending massage, except my masseuse was the one with the happy ending.