I play it cool / And dig all jive / That’s the reason / I stay alive / My motto / As I live and learn / Is: Dig And Be Dug / In Return. — “Motto” by Langston Hughes
Had a real New York moment last night involving a masseur I’ve been going to for a bout 2 years now, Chris, a Chinese dude who works at a spa near my apartment in the West Village. He gives a good massage and his reflexology skillz are off the hizzo. I go to a lot of different places in the city for massage. I believe in its powers to rid your body of tensions and toxins and accelerate healing.
Last time I saw Chris, he told me on the down low that he’s also working at another salon in Chelsea where they charge $25 less. Naturally I followed him there, going for my first appointment in the new digs last night. The place was a lot nicer, and Chris was so appreciative. When we were done he asked if I wanted a cocktail. His English isn’t so great so I didn’t know what he was saying at first but then he went over to the corner and started loading ice into two plastic cups. I excused myself to use the bathroom and when I came back the manager was there. She was an immaculately dressed and made up woman with a very sympathetic, welcoming smile.
Chris insisted that I enjoy my Kaluha on the rocks and who was I to turn away on this hospitality. We clinked our plastic cups and sipped our liquor and all three got to chit chatting. I asked the woman how long she’d been open, how was business, etc. Chris started saying how he always enjoyed drinking with customers back in China. I only understood about 50% of what he was saying … the woman, who I believe is his wife or girlfriend, translated. She said that Chris was a performing artist back in China. A singer and dancer. And in China “just like in America” artists need another source of livelihood so Chris became a physical therapist. I asked if he still performs, and he said hold on, let me do one for you. He explained his routine first … something about the moon overhead and the green grass below … and then busted into it. LOUD. Loud melodious singing and swishing about. It was so unexpected. Here was a man who’s been taking care of my body for a couple of years and I was only now learning something personal about him. After the traditional Chinese song he busted into, no joke, the Morris Albert cabaret lounge classic “Feelings” (I can just picture Bill Murray belting it out as Nick Winters).
I applauded and we talked some more. They wanted badly to pronounce my name correctly. I told them it was a Gaelic word that means “Irish girl.” The woman said I look like a girl. That I have a childlike face and hair. I thanked her for that. Said I try to stay young in my heart. “Forever 21,” she said. “Yeah, that’s where I bought this dress,” I said. We both laughed, and it was true.