Thursday, September 20, 2012

cave feet

my feet.
my feet had become like the feet of a cave dweller. someone who lives in a damp cave. in darkness,and walks on rough stones all day.
they were disgusting.
if i was to take off my shoes, i would have to plan ahead. socks. i carried socks around. just as essential to my purse as toilet paper.
*no bathrooms here have toilet paper. it's a b.y.o. type thing. and if you forget...well, just don't forget.
so back to my hobbit-like hideous feet. for weeks i've wanted to treat myself to a pedicure. so yesterday the fates aligned and the day was upon me.
i spent the day with two new friends. boris and liling. both spoke mandarin. it was liling's birthday, and we spent the morning at some fancy pagoda thing (clearly i was really into it...). liling wanted to pamper herself for her birthday. and she was torn between massage or haircut.
after meandering streets and popping into different salons and massage places that ranged from super dodgy, to super sketchy we settled on something in between.
we found a nice hair saloon on a dodgy street, that had a dodgy foot 'cleaning' and massage place beside it. liling went into the saloon and boris and i popped into the foot place. i explained to boris the state of my feet. and that i wasnt so much leaning towards pedicure, as i was intense filing/exfoliating.
my mom probably is cursing me now. she is an advocate for nightly foot washing and scrubbing. but when showers are few and far between, my feet are pretty low on my priority list.
boris stuck his head in and asked what the deal was. they said they would were full now, but to pop a squat out front and they'd have room in ten minutes.
the front of the store was full glass windows. the store itself was just big enough to fit five lazy boy recliners wall to wall. each chair had a wooden bucket in front of it, and a foot stool on the other side of that bucket. and then there were four men and one woman who ran the show.
they motioned us in. boris sweet talked them into rearranging it so we could sit beside each other. which looking back on it, i'm not sure was a good idea.
literally...cave dweller feet.
boris translated.
first they brought over the wooden bucket which was full of hot tea. i plunked in my trolls and sat back smiling.then boris followed suit. after a couple minutes of soaking i was told to swivel around so i was sitting on the foot stool behind the bucket. feet still soaking, a back "massage" commenced.i didnt want to show pain. i was very aware to keep my face relaxed and not grip my hands wildy on the arms of the chair. i looked over at boris, and was happy to see he was feeling it too. they twisted me about cracking and prodding my whole back.then i felt his knee on my back. he pushed on me like he was trying to close a really old collapsible table that sometimes gets stuck midway through, and it needs a little extra push. but i liked it. i however made the mistake of telling boris, who translated my enthusiasm. i was then treated to two more 'knee-ings'
after the back was done, we flipped back onto the seats and the foot connoisseurs dipped their hands into the water and felt our feet. boris' guy said that his foot skin was thin and healthy, no filing for him. then my guy dipped his hands in. felt my feet, his eyes widened, face blank, lip curled, looked at me and then got up. he walked over to a table and came back with three files. metal,dark and looking slightly like torture devices. i was mortified. the poor man. and boris. boris and his perfect feet.
my foot dude held up my foot and got to work. like liling at the hair saloon beside us, pieces of me were falling to the floor. except instead of hair...i had hunks and chunks of foot grossness falling on the floor. meanwhile, boris' foot massage had started.
i remember watching an episode of the amazing race with mom and dad, and the challenge was to endure a traditional chinese foot massage. and after seeing boris' expression, i had a feeling that is what we signed up for. after my feet were thoroughly hacked to perfection, my torture began. it was the most unusual feeling. it was an excruciating combination of intense tickle and brutal pain. it felt like he was trying to rip apart the muscles in my foot. and sometimes he would alternate between foot torture and would prop my foot up on the stool and start prodding my calf. i had to restrain myself from kicking him in the chest.
after the first couple minutes i got somewhat adjusted. i didnt wince as much.
our feet guys started talking to boris.
i asked him what they were saying.
boris said that they can tell us about what is going on in our bodies based on our feet. boris was told he wasn't getting restful sleep, and  that he was having stomach issues.
i asked him what my guy had to say about me. well he had a lot to say.
bad skin, bad skin caused by too much chi in my body. i can cure this by drinking more herbal tea, specifically chrysanthemum tea if i can. i also am at risk for developing low blood pressure and gall stones. i need more restful sleep, i have gastric digestive problems, and my liver is too 'heaty'. boris did his best to describe what heaty was. but i still dont get it. but the foot guy said that getting cupping done would help with the liver and the too much chi in my body thing. i told boris to tell him that i got it done in beijing and i liked it.
boris did, and then told me that they could do it here if i wanted. i looked around. we were in the tiniest 'spa' ever, and there was only one room.
boris noted my confusion.
'there is a curtain on your chair. they will pull it across. it is 20 yuan if you are interested'
twenty yuan is three dollars and twenty cents. heck yes i was interested. so a thin pink sheet was pulled across my lazy boy, and it was fully reclined into 'bed' mode. i walked behind the curtain and boris translated for me.
okay lay down.
no, face at the other end.
okay you can take your shirt off.
now bra.
this is weird.
then i saw my foot dude pull a piece of paper with a bunch of tiny glass jars over to me.he lathered up my back with oil. i saw the flaming tongs get lit, and then i felt it. the first cup was sucked on my back. but instead of just leaving it in one place, he started to drag it all over my back. it was like when i was little and dad would suck the vacuum to my pant leg. except this was a super human vacuum, and it was on my bare skin. this hurt. but it was over soon, and he began to place all of the cups on my back. i could feel my skin behind sucked up into them. i waited like that for about ten or fifteen minutes. then they were twisted off. i got dressed and paid the ridiculously low sum of eight dollars for the whole thing! over an hour, new feet, foot and back massage and cupping!
my mind was blown!
when i got out from behind the pink curtain i looked in the mirror.
i looked like a teenage mutant ninja turtle. the spots where the cups had swollen - a lot. i look like i had the most intense back muscles EVER! it was gross, and kind of awesome.
so needless to say, i no longer have cave feet.
and i have a fond appreciation for sketchy looking foot massage places :)

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