When we were building Flic Spa, a man walked into our rear exit, peeked into our construction site and asked what business was coming in.
“The best spa on earth,” I said. “Flic Spa.”
“Will you give happy endings?” he asked me. I could feel the blood rush to my face.
“Yes,” I said, gritting my teeth. “I do them.”
“Yes. With a pair of scissors. I call it the Lorena Bobbit special. Want one?”
He walked away confused, not quite sure if I was just kidding. I could almost see his thought bubbles -- a middle aged Filipino grinning wildly, wielding a pair of sharp steel scissors above him. I strolled over to a nearby Thai restaurant for lunch, and told the owner about what just happened.
“Good thing he not in Thailand,” she sighed. “We call it feeding the duck.”
“Feeding the duck?”
“Yes, happen a lot. Man cheat on woman. Woman cut it off and throw out window. Duck eat it, and grind it up in the throat. They can’t sew it back together.”
I didn’t know what was more horrifying: that Feeding the Duck was so commonplace, or that they actually had a term for it.
I know, I know, massage has a checkered past. We learn about it in massage school, and we therapists have our share of stories. We rarely share them publicly. It is our own elephant in the room.
Creating a reputable spa like ours is an uphill battle. In the beginning, getting town ordinance approvals was difficult. After another frustrating day of red tape, I asked a town administration worker what was holding us up.
“Well,” she said, “you’re Asians. What can I say.” I was flabbergasted, but I appreciated her brutal honesty, and how hard she was working to help us create Flic Spa. Later, I learned about the police raids that closed down the massage parlors around town. Sad to say, many of the workers were Asians. My heart sank. Certainly this is not their idea of the American dream, nor what they wanted to be when they grow up.
“I want to be nurse.”
“I want to be doctor.”
“I want to work in massage clinic.”
In our first few months, we received a call every other day asking about sensual massages. I responded with fury, threatening to call the police on them. Oliver scolded me, telling me that I should just answer politely, without emotion, that those services are illegal and that Flic Spa doesn’t offer them. And then hang up.
A newly hired therapist, a lovely young woman I’ll call Liz, once had a client, a middle aged father living in a neighboring town. I was away from the spa when I received a panicked call.
“He asked her to sit on his face!” her fellow therapist screamed into the phone. “For $350!”
“Hell, I could do that for free! For an hour! I’ll make sure he suffocates.”
I told them to call the police and report the incident. Oliver called the man and, in a soft, furious voice, ripped him a new one. As for Liz, she quit, and never again worked as a massage therapist.
Nowadays, things have settled down and such lascivious inquiries are rare. I did get a call last week from a man with a South Asian accent.
“Hello,” he said. “I would like to learn if you offer tantric massage. Sensual.” He drew out the word ‘sensual’ like a talking snake: S-s-sensssuaalll...
“No, sir. We don’t,” I said, my voice free of emotion. “But we do have a special.”
“It’s called Feeding the Duck. Quack. Quack.”
And I hung up.