Every time I go for a beauty treatment here in Thailand, I get spanked.
The other day I went for a pedicure and the woman bent my toes back in a most unnatural fashion, then punched and spanked the bottoms of my feet. Okay, okay, I’ll give you a tip!
It was the same going in for a wash, spank and blow-dry. These ladies at the beauty parlour are from the shampoo-rinse-repeat school of hair massage. Just when you think you’ve made it through the rinse cycle and are starting to enjoy the fluff dry, brace yourself Effie. Spank, spank.
If you have been in Thailand for more than twenty minutes, no doubt you have experienced the famous Thai massage. This isn’t a slippery, relax-among-clouds-of-aroma-therapy kind of massage (although you can get that here, too – you can get anything, darling, for a price). Thai massage is athletic, the Kung Fu of massage therapy. When you finally surrender to having your masseuse knead, push and pull your appendages like Mr. Gumby, it does feel rather good. Surrender is the key. Resist and something just might snap.
After an hour of push-me-pull-me, you start to feel somewhat friendly towards the smiling man or woman who laughs at your yelps and groans. This is fun, right? Then, when you are completely relaxed — or exhausted — with just five minutes left in your session, they bring it on: The Spanking.
Sometimes it is a cupped hand clap-smack; sometimes a pinch-pull, snap-spank, but they all do it — all the while wearing their patriotic Land of Smiles grin.
Never having experienced the rigors of Catholic school, and the attendant perversions of such a religious upbringing, I have yet to embrace smacking as a fun way to spend an evening with a stranger. However, this, well, fetishism — what would you call it? This stinging lust for abrupt contact of flesh-upon-flesh seems rampant across the land. I had to get to the bottom of it.
At first, I took it rather personally. It’s because I am an European, isn’t it? It’s an authority issue. Let me go on record right now and just say it: I did not vote for that guy in office nor his father! Actually, if it pleases the court, let the record show: Most Americans did not, either.
I tried a little beauty parlor espionage. When they asked, “Are you Australian?” I just smiled and tried to look even blonder. Still, I got a spanking. The retaliation against Europeans theory is out. Then, I had a L’Oreal moment: Oh please don’t hate me because I’m beautiful — and rich, too. Wrong again.
Even the German relic past the expiration date in the stall next to me got spanked. And she liked it.
It got me wondering: Were all these manicurists, beauticians and masseurs trained by Evil David? Simply a surplus of underemployed dominatrixes with their fetish-wear at the cleaners? The answer again, no.
Empirical evidence, I saw this for myself: Thais even spank other Thais.
Turns out this “therapy” (feels like a spank to me) is supposed to be good for you. No, not for strengthening one’s moral character. It is supposed stimulate circulation. You would think with the amount of chillies and other hot Thai spices that the circulation would have no trouble getting around on its own.
“Very good for blood,” assured my masseur, Tong.
Okay, maybe on the back and other, uh, large muscle masses, I can understand that. What about spanking on the scalp?
“Very good for hair,” Tong says. “Makes hair grow.”
What about the feet? Does spanking make feet grow? “Good for relaxation,” Tong reassures me. Yes, Tong is right. It feels so good when he stops.