I had just paid for my haircut and was walking out of the barber’s, when the heavens split open. The second storm of the day. The gutters filled quickly. Bright colored umbrellas bobbled by. Carrots and peas in the stewy grey sky.
Just outside was bar and a barkeep undercover of an awning. With no particular place to be, I pulled up a seat and ordered a beer. I could wait this out.
One sip in, there was a poke on my shoulder. Poke, poke, poke. I turned to find a small woman smiling shrewdly.
“Massage?” She asked.
“Ahh. No thank you.” I replied rather automatically. I am offered a massage numerous times per day. It’s rote.
She pushed out her bottom lip and pointed inside where her friends already had customers. “Thai massage!” she pleaded. “Why you no want Thai massage?”
Honestly, I just didn’t want to go through the trouble of changing my clothes, but I didn’t know how to explain that, so I pointed to my beer and said, “I just ordered this.”
“You drink inside! Look,” she pointed, “it’s raining.” She had an answer for everything. But the idea of sipping a beer while being wound around like a pretzel, seemed like a messy and unrelaxing ordeal.
So I countered. “How about a half-hour foot massage?” She grabbed my motorcycle helmet and motioned me inside.
I sat down in the recliner, rolled up my pants and pulled off my socks. She stepped away and returned with a small tub of warm water scented with limes.
Like a car dealer marketing the undercoating, she looked at me and then held up one finger. “You make it for one hour? Look outside. It raining hard! You got an hour.”
Iwas trapped, so I made it an hour. And it was a little more expensive than others on the street, but she used a little, pointed wooden stick thingy that she pushed into strategic areas on my foot and the stress of the day washed away.
And it was then that I realized that the multitude of massage shops that dot the streets serve as places to get out of the rain. Or sun, maybe, but certainly the rain. A usual session lasts the length of a typical monsoon storm. Enough time for the indulgent.
And, sure enough, at the 50 minute mark, the rain let up and I sped off down the road.