Early days as a massage mogul

Mega busy right now getting a handle on the new business. Took over last Friday after the usual round of complications, none of which I can be bothered going into. Walked in the door Friday and basically said, “Hi, I’m your new boss!” It went down better than it might have.

Since then I’ve tried to get a sense of how the joint operates, whilst looking to gradually introduce improvements across the board. Functional improvements are needed, but I don’t want to spook the staff there too much so that’s slowly, slowly. In the meantime I’m implementing some simple marketing jobs to get things up and rolling. I’ve advertised in the online advertising sites, both in general, and looking forward to Mother’s Day and the specials available then. The brochure is being re-done, business and loyalty cards printed, gift vouchers created. At some stage I’ll engage with the local traders to introduce myself, as well as to offer discounted massages. There’s also a hospital around the corner I want to get in contact with to offer discounted massage to anyone who can produce an ID. And so on.

To assist in all of this I brought in my own manager, otherwise formerly known in these pages as the yoga teacher. That moniker may be out of date as she’s also a marketing manager. It’s quite by accident that I got her involved here. I was having a drink with her, mentioned all of this was happening, and she piped up with I’m here to help if you need it. I do need it. She’s happy to take on a part-time possie, and is quite enthused at the prospect of marketing the business.

So, how’s it going? Hard to draw a line through things at this stage. Had a couple of goodish days, one very nice, and one ordinary. I might be little ahead when I take out all my costs. Given there has been no marketing put into the business since before Christmas, and the lack of general collateral, I’m satisfied that I can make some early inroads once our plans have been rolled out.

So far the biggest challenge has been the personnel. That’s not a huge surprise, and I had been warned. It didn’t take me long to figure out that I should be taking a step back. Here I am a middle-aged, burly Australian male. I’m not the sort you want to bump into in the reception area of a genteel massage shop. More importantly, I represent a difficult demographic when it comes to dealing with massage staff who are almost all Asian and completely female.

Having travelled through Asia a bit I was ready for the cultural divide, but knowing it doesn’t necessarily help bridge it. I’ve spoken very quietly and with a smile on my face, while getting the yoga teacher to act in my stead. I’ve bought chocolates a couple of days running – very happily received – and generally tried to allay any fears they might have. Most challenging is the most important person there – N.

N has worked there for more than two years. She’s an elegant, attractive Thai woman, but like many quite diffident with the likes of me. She works on reception, as well as giving the occasional massage – she is one of the staff customers request by name. She’s quite upset that the owners have sold out, despite the fact they exploited her shamelessly – working her 7 days a week at $10 an hour. She doesn’t understand that. She’s unsure I think of what she wants to do, and claims she no longer wants to do any massage. Complicating it further is that her English is no better than rudimentary, and she seems unable, or unwilling, to say exactly what she wants.

I’m giving her a lot of rope for now. I’m hopeful that she will calm down and that we’ll be able to establish some parameters going forward – which includes at least one day off a week, and a pay increase to the legal minimum ($16/hr). I’ve asked her to think about what she wants, and reassured her that we’ll help out in any way we can. It’s no good though if she won’t do any massage. I think she’ll come around.

In any case I’m advertising for someone else to help us out. A qualified masseuse who is also responsible, reliable, and capable of looking after reception as required. And I’m going to give another of the girls a retainer on top of her massage commission. She’s a go-getter, friendly, and has lots of energy – I’m going to encourage her to be the boss back of the house, of all the masseuse, savvy enough to know what needs to be done and capable of keeping them in line.

Don’t reckon you can have a successful business unless you have the right people. That’s the theory I’m working on.

Urgently present

Sunday morning I wandered around George Town in Penang by myself. I had a coffee and got talking to a couple of English girls; in Little India I met a monk in saffron robes, an affable Aussie now very much at home in Penang; I had an excellent pakora, had my foot run over by an errant driver, and got rained on.

It was hot and steamy. We were scheduled to leave just on 2 and so I figured I had just enough time for a massage.

I selected a place we had popped our heads in the night before. I had spied on the menu a Balinese massage that seemed just right. I negotiated a rate and was led down a passageway to a dimly lit room screened by curtains. It was a pleasant room, a spicy aroma in the air and on the floor thick mattresses in purple fabric. I sat and waited for the masseuse.

She arrived about a minute later, a slender Chinese woman, tall for her race, with long hair. She confirmed my massage and then standing there asked me to take off my clothes. Unsure of the etiquette I stripped down to my undies. With my shirt off she exclaimed at the size of me and said she needed two hours to massage me properly. I told her I didn’t have 2 hours to spare.

She directed me to lay on the mattress face down, and then with fragrant oil she began to massage the back of my legs with long, sweeping strokes. Her fingers were strong and pliant. They soothed the tight muscles of my legs and up into my groin in a way that had my complete attention. Gripping at the elastic of my undies she asked if she could remove them. At my assent she casually peeled them off of me as I lifted my body to assist.

Now her hands reached all the way to my buttocks, kneading them into happy submission. As her hands moved her fingers curled and brushed against my scrotum between my parted legs. I have to be honest here and admit I lived for those fleeting touches. Even as I felt the soothing effects of her work that subtle sensuality was enough to lift the sensation into another realm. There was the physical – something I was to further understand as the massage proceeded – in that middle part of us men is sensitive, and is at the centre from which filaments of sensation tease and tremble throughout the rest of the body like errant charges of electricity.

There was the psychological also. We are such sexual animals that even the hint of excitement inflames us. As a man I spend a lot of time thinking about sex in any case, and identify a large part of who I am in my sexual persona. Hell, there are times I am my cock, and perfectly happy with that I am. Lying there in the dimly lit room in a foreign city and an attractive and unknown woman touching me sensually all of that suddenly became a whole lot more. I waited, feeling her fingers probe and caress, traced them in my mind as oil slicked they slid from calf to thigh to buttock and down…

It was all so matter of fact, something else I’ll return to later. I don’t doubt she knew the effect she had upon me, but it was not contrived, it was not sexualised. This is what she did and did properly, this was the job she was paid to do and as she told me later had been doing it for 8 years since leaving China. Because it was not sexualised it was so much more sensual.

She moved to my back, my arms, commenting as she did so upon the size of my muscles, asking how old I was and telling me I was a strong man. By now she was astride me as I lay on my front. She was perhaps half my weight, but sitting there on the back of my thighs she would lean forward and put all her weight into the long strokes that went from the small of my back to the tips of my shoulders. As she did stray bits of her long dark hair would brush against the sensitised skin of my back and her fingers would lightly play along the curved balls of muscle of my shoulders. I would feel to a patch of her skin press against mine as her top rode up her midriff as she leaned into me.

She turned me. She massaged my face, my head, then my chest. We spoke, she asked my name and told me hers – Shenzen? – which I heard at first like Ginger. She was 29, had lived in Hong Kong and KL and now George Town. Her English was halting and uncertain, but she smiled with it wanting to be understood, and to know more of me, which I shared.

By now I have had an erection for about 30 minutes. I don’t care. How many times would I have been paranoid about such a thing? But not now. It seems irrelevant, besides the point, so bloody western. So what if I have an erection? That’s good isn’t it? That’s how I feel, and she cares not one whit though it’s plain to see. It matters not a bit because it seems – and is – so natural.

Her fingers now are caressing my stomach, my groin, my upper thighs. A small towel covers my cock, but her fingers travel all around it, touching everything but it. Then she presses down on me, once, twice, three times, her hands to either side of my groin with all her weight. I feel the pressure quiver in me, feel my erection jerk like it is a living thing keen to get free.

Then, soon after, it ends. We smile, she hands me my jocks, I dress as she departs, everything going through my head.

I feel strung tight, beautifully so, alive, vibrant, urgently present. Had she offered me a happy ending I’d have said yes without hesitation. I needed it in the way every man knows, but it would have felt almost normal. I’d always thought of it as sleazy and cheap, and it probably is often – but perhaps it needn’t be. I’ve had sex with less sensuality than that massage – most sex really is short of what I felt there in that massage room. In a way it was like the best foreplay you could imagine, close, intimate, sensitive, teasing, for nearly two hours. I left feeling like I needed a cold shower; and feeling half in love with the unaffected and generous woman who had provided so much unexpected pleasure to me.

I expect many will read this as evidence of a depraved sensibility. Not surprisingly I feel it differently. You may not understand but I feel as if I have had my eyes opened again to something I once knew instinctively and with simple pleasure: sex is good, clean, natural. We may make it otherwise at times, but that is the flaw in our make-up. What I felt on Sunday was simple, uncomplicated and good, because that was how it was presented to me. It was the best massage I have ever had by a country mile, and reminded me of how civilisation inhibits us. Life is simpler, and better I think, when we accept things for what they are and not for what we choose for them to become.