Maybe I’m uncultured. Maybe I’m unintelligent. Maybe I’m a huge pansy. But in my mind, the most painful hour I’ve ever experienced in my life does not constitute a foot massage. Compared to this, getting a tattoo was like a mosquito biting me while I was knocked out on Benadryl. I understand that it’s probably a result of my lack of knowledge of reflexology and pressure point “massages,” but having just returned from the first massage where I actually cried (just a little), I don’t really care right now.
I made the mistake tonight of going to the small massage place the next building over. I’ve been there before and I know that Chinese foot massages are meant to hurt in the moment, and feel good after, and I can handle the pain at the place I normally go to. What I didn’t know is that they switched owners. And masseuses. So I decided to try it and see how it was. The masseuse was an older ayi who was either completely or partially blind. Which was fine, because I’ve heard blind masseuses are actually better. You know, heightened sense of touch and all.
The “massage” was 58RMB (about $9) for an hour, which is not bad for Beijing. The foot “massage” included a 15 minute shoulder and neck massage, which the ayi did in the beginning. To be honest, it would’ve been more useful at the end, since I spent the rest of the time tensing my entire body and wincing. She spent a good amount of time on the top of my feet. As in, where the bones and tendons (ligaments? Can you tell I’m not a super-genius doctor?) are. When she hit a spot and I said it hurt, she said “Yeah,” which I guess meant “Good! I’ve found the spot! Let me rub harder.”
Apparently I (not my feet) am very dirty. Granted, I haven’t showered yet today, but I don’t think that’s what she meant when she kept saying I was really zang. I believe she was referring to something internal. That because it hurt in the spots she rubbed (or more like dug into) on my feet, something was wrong with my stomach (her words, not mine).
I’m not sure if I believe in traditional Chinese medicine, or the idea of your body as yin and yang, or the fact that digging into the bones on your feet can cure cancer. I just know that my “massage” hurt like hell. You may be wondering why I didn’t just end it early, why I didn’t just stop her when it got too much. The simple answer? I’m prideful and stupid and don’t like people knowing that I can’t take the pain.