Category Archives: mature content

29. The creepiest massage ever

Never buy a Groupon voucher for a massage without checking the reviews first, I learned the hard way.  About a year ago, I purchased two massages without thinking to read the reviews.  I wrote about the first nightmare massage in an early post, “Unhappy Endings.”

After “Unhappy Endings,” I read the reviews for my upcoming 90 minute massage at Sangraal Body Works in Seattle, to my horror.  “DO NOT GO HERE” several reviewers wrote.  One person said that upon arrival, the masseur was eating his lunch in a small room covered with trash, barefoot.  She said there were two overflowing baskets of trash by the massage table, and that the whole cramped room was a mess.

In the back of my mind I must have been thinking, “Go out of your comfort zone and get material for your blog.”

I arrived at the office building and knocked on the door.  I heard a voice but couldn’t tell what he was saying.  I knocked again.  “Hold on!”  He said.

“Sorry, I couldn’t hear what you said,” I said, entering the room and noticing the vacuum cleaner sitting out amidst some other clutter.  “I’ll go into the other room while you change,”  and he slid the mirrored doors shut.  He was short, with his balding hair caught in a ponytail–a look that retired long ago.

I have rarely had a male masseur, and I was nervous about it.  I didn’t see a licence anywhere.

I lay face down on the table, hoping he’d turn on music.  He did, but it was so faint that the sound of cars soaring by on the busy street bothered and distracted me.

He didn’t ask what kind of  massage I wanted or how much pressure he should apply.  He just started pressing points in a deep tissue massage.  I prefer Swedish, light pressure.

He started asking questions about my writing, which, for a writer, is like asking a fat woman if she is pregnant.

“What is your memoir about?”

“My misadventures.”

“Like. smuggling machine guns into Egypt?”  I suppose this was his attempt at humor.  I wasn’t laughing.

“Do you have a publisher?” Ugh.   I’m a playwright.

Towards the end of the massage, when I was in a zoned out state, I noticed my fingers were touching something.  Then I felt something.

His package! Oh my God, icky icky icky. He didn’t ask me to move my fingers, which had instantly recoiled.  Why was the massage table at that level?  I couldn’t tell if he was erect or not, but the package was firm.  I didn’t realize my fingers had  been rubbing against his pants at crotch level.

“Feel free to move your hand where ever you want,” he said, too late.

Disgusted, I got up and left, feeling dirty and violated.  I wrote what happened in a review on Yelp.

But I certainly had a story to tell.


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18. Red Light District

Dudface invited Hayden to Amsterdam, and Hayden invited me.  We got on a train on Friday and arrived late afternoon, checking into a bed and breakfast.  We didn’t have the money for two rooms so we took one room instead.  I wonder what the owner thought of that.

I loved the architecture of Amsterdam, with its beautiful fanciful fascades along the canal.  We ate at an Indonesian restaurant that night, and I remember the plates were divided into little sections with small pieces of food in each one.

We went to the Red Light District, so called because of the prostitutes who displayed themselves in red lights in glass rooms.  Prostitution and drugs are legal in Amsterdam, so we bought some hashish and smoked it.

The hashish made me randy and that night in bed I forgot Dudface was there.  I have no memory of what happened, but Dudface did.

“You got kind of wild last night, Karen.”  I still wonder what I did with Hayden that night.

The next day we split up and Hayden and I went to the Riks museum and stood marveling in front of the gigantic canvas of Nightwatch.  I stood there a long time, wanting to remember every detail of Rembrandt’s masterpiece.

But my favorite museum in the world was the Van Gogh museum.  They had every period of Van Gogh’s work, and many colorful canvases that I had never seen before.  Then art historians still believed Van Gogh killed himself, whereas today there is speculation that he was murdered by a local bully.

That night Dudface revealed that while we were at the museums, he had visited a prostitute.  I don’t know if the prostitute was male or female, but I suspect he was male.  Apparently the night before had made Dudface excited.  I was disgusted.

On Sunday we were scheduled to leave by train that night so we could get back to class on Monday.  Dudface and Hayden wanted to rent bikes, so we biked into Holland’s countryside, past a brewery.  I was falling behind, until I could no longer see the boys.  The roads were flat and lined with perfectly symmetrical trees.  I had come to a fork in the road, and panicked.  I was holding everyone’s passports and money, so it was not only rude, but incredibly stupid, not to wait for me.  I decided not to turn but to go relatively straight.  I came across an old man with a black hat.  He didn’t speak English, and I tried in vain to act out if he had seen two boys, one in a long black shirt that looked like a coat, Hayden’s favorite bizarre outfit.  I was getting more and more upset, acutely aware that I was alone in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language and I didn’t know my way back to Amsterdam.  I turned around and went back to the fork, sat down and waited for a long time.

Finally, the boys reached me.  I was furious; they were nonchalant.  I still wonder if they left me to have sex.  What’s worse was that we missed the last train back to Paris.  I became incensed.  “I have never in my life missed a train!”  I yelled at them.  They acted like I was a lunatic.  We would miss class and we would have to figure out a place to stay another night.

Of course, I wasn’t really angry about missing a train.  I was angry because I suspected what had really happened between Dudface and Hayden.

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17. A Movable Feast

The three bedroom house we had rented had no shower, only a bathtub with a hand held shower.  We had to be up so early to go sit in that cold tub and try to wash with one hand while holding the shower head, take the train to Paris, and then the metro, which we soon memorized, to the school for french class.  I was in the intermediate class, Hayden was in the beginner’s class.  I was afraid to open my mouth and speak french outside of class.  I ordered a “Oiel frite”, a fried eye, instead of an  “oeuf frite.”  While at the cheese shop, I tried to say, “go ahead of me” and said instead “on y va”–shall we go.

What I remember most–though I loved the museums, especially the musee d’Orsay–are the croque monsieurs ( a kind of grilled cheese sandwich) and croque madames (grilled cheese with egg on top) I ordered for breakfast each day.  The bread was fried, but it didn’t taste like French toast, and you just can’t get it in the states.  I would eat them in nondescript corner cafes with a big bowl of cafe au lait (another delicacy, as this was years before Starbucks).

We wouldn’t be like anyone else: we hadn’t brought cameras, choosing instead to live in the moment.  In hindsight, this was a terrible mistake.  We were unabashedly precocious.

In class, the bespectled teacher with his grey-brown curly hair asked me who I was.  I said in French,  “I am a nymphomaniac!’  Everyone’s jaws dropped.  No one ever looked at me the same way again.  I was, in fact, becoming some kind of nymphomaniac hopelessly in love with a beautiful  gay man. We were like Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, coupled yet uncoupled.

“Karen, you’re a gem, ” he would say.  He professed undying love for me constantly.  I didn’t really know anything about gay men, it was never spoken about.  In high school, we would call unpopular people “fags.”  We didn’t know it was short for faggots, the sticks used to burn homosexuals while “witches” were being drowned.

A pretty, thin girl in Hayden’s class had a crush on him.  She would stand between Hayden and I after school and say she was going on a diet, every day.

My favorite outfit to wear in Paris was a blue dress from the future.  I got it on Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.  It had a mock turtleneck, and a button on one side.  It hung over a short, hip hugging pleated skirt.  Hayden dubbed me “the blueberry girl.”

Water was the same price as wine so, as in “The Sun Also Rises”, we ate steak frites and got drunk.  I learned to love my steaks incredibly rare.  We went to “Le Shok Hitchcok” movies because, being young, we got homesick.

We had befriended an attractive couple from N.Y.U., Tom, and Wendy and their friend Gina.  “Gina puts her girdle out to dry on the shower rod,” Wendy told me in confidence.  I didn’t know you could even still buy a girdle.  Gina would sleep with French  men who spoke no English.

“The best position is woman on top!”  Gina gushed, and proceeded to explain why  in graphic detail.

When I told them the story of the sex abuse trial, Tom got visibly disturbed. He was flushing and fidgeting and looking sick.  Finally, he excused himself.  I silently concluded that he had been abused…or was he an abuser?

We all took the train out to Versailles, and took rowboats out  and had a water fight.  We had met Wendy’s friend Hans there, a tall, goofy looking guy wearing birkinstocks.  Hans slipped me a note.

“Meet me in the room of mirrors.  I want to kiss you,” it read.

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16. Itchy Puss

Here I was in Paris, with venereal disease, like Boswell in his biography of Samuel Johnson.  Who had given me chlymydia  since I wasn’t sleeping with Hayden?

During Christmas break, I met a preppy, good looking guy on the Long Island Railroad, who I knew because he was my high school boyfriend’s friend.  We flirted and I gave him my number.  We went out to drinks, where he admitted he would like to try hang gliding.  He took me back to his place, and quickly proceeded to insert himself inside me.

“Do you have protection?” I asked.

“No,” he said, breathlessly.

“Then GET OUT!  GET OUT NOW!”  I screamed.  “How stupid do you think I am?  I don’t want to get pregnant!”

“Shit, now I have blue balls.”

He drove me home in hostile silence.

I was itching like crazy.  My mom took me to a gynecologist all her friends raved about, named after a famous sadist.

“Who ever did this to you is a cruel jerk.  Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No,” I said, because Hayden wasn’t sleeping with me.

“What a shame, you have such a beeeoootiful body.”   Did he say this to all of my Mom’s friends?  Today he would probably be in prison.

“You might not be able to have children,” he said.  I went numb, pretending not to hear this.  Later, another male gynecologist told me the same thing.  Then a female gynecologist asked me if a male gynecologist had told me I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant.  “Yes, ” I said.  “‘Well that’s not true.”  She said.  When I was forty-three and trying to get pregnant, I was told that my reproductive organs had been traumatized, and I might not be able to get pregnant.  Then I read in Oprah magazine that if you were treated immediately, you could still get pregnant.

So there I was in Paris, having to shove yellow suppositories the size of eggs into my vagina every night, wearing a maxi pad, which feels like a diaper.

“No sex for two months, ”  The doctor said, which was ironic, since Hayden didn’t want to ever have sex.

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14. Menage a trois

A new guy who I refer to as “Dudface” moved into our house, and became enamored with Hayden.  He became Hayden’s lackey, helping to renovate the house, hanging around with us all the time, and saying horrible things about me which Hayden, of course, would repeat to me. (Note:  any friend or partner who will repeat bad gossip about you to you is not your friend).

Another boy began hanging around with us too, a blonde muscular boy named Jack, who was enamored with both of us, especially me.  He would visit us often, once bringing me a red rose.  “I like both of you,” he would say.  One night he invited us for a walk to the graveyard.  “Let’s lie down, ” he said as he offered us a joint.  We lay down close together, with me in the middle.

Then Jack took off his pants.  Hayden and I became uncomfortable, even though Hayden was still telling me we would have sex tomorrow.  Hayden made jokes about Jack’s lack of pants.

“Now you take off your pants,” Jack said to me.  I froze in disbelief.

“All right, let’s go.” Hayden said.

Later on I heard a D.J. on the radio reporting on the results of a survey:  women’s number one fantasy was a menage a trois.  I immediately regretted turning my opportunity down.

Jack was impossibly cute.  What would it have been like?  Would Jack have started making out with Hayden?

I told a fair, innocent looking redhead about my thwarted adventure.  To my surprise, she told me she had had lots of threesomes.  What kind of prude was I?

Meanwhile, our favorite couple friends came over; Jessica, a slightly plump freshman with punk hair, and Ray, a brilliant physicist and musician who also studied literary theory.  Jessica announced that she had cancer.  We were stunned, but did not know what to say, or what questions to ask.  We were too young.  And we hadn’t known Jessica for long.

“That’s…terrible.” I said.  I wanted to know how long she had to live, but didn’t ask.  “Would you like some caviar?”

We had become addicted to caviar, eating it on crackers with cream cheese as we sat in our wingback chairs in the ballroom.

A few months later, Jessica told us she had never had cancer.  She just wanted attention.  I wasn’t nearly as angry enough as I should have been.

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