I have only experienced true unshakable terror a few times in my life. Once when I was about to jump off a ten foot rope swing, once when my friends trapped me in a sleeping bag without air and once while trapped in a dark room with a crazy Asian Immigrant. I was in California with my brother Michael, when he, being the nut case he is, suggested that we go off -roading through the valley with his SUV BMW. The water was rushing and the adrenaline was pumping. There was mud everywhere, on his car, on us and in our shoes.
After we expended all of our energy, it was time for us to relax. So I suggested that we get a professional massage. I used to give my brother massages when I was little. Mike is twenty years older than me, he always lived in California, but even though he was three thousand miles away from me, he always made the times we had together memorable. I remember Mike telling me to hit his back as hard as I could, so I would curl up my little five year old fists and flail on him until I could not move. As I got older I had to learn other methods, it was just too hard on him.
Mike loved my suggestion. In my mind, a massage would mean two beautiful, blonde Californian women being masseuses and Mike and I on tables next to each other so we could talk. Unfortunately, this was not even close to the way life played itself out. The lobby was full of Asian tapestries, and the receptionist was very hard to understand because she has such a thick Vietnamese accent. I then realized that this was one of the most expensive ways I had ever heard of to relax. Yet the worst was still to come.
I was led away down the hallway. The receptionist told Mike to go into room 8 and motioned for me to go into room 5. It was a slight disappointment not to be with Mike, but for the amount of money he paid for this hour I was not about to complain. It was then that I entered a room I will never forget.
It was dark with the only light coming from the glow of a space heater. The air was pungent with the smell of incense. There was a stereo in the left corner of the room that was spilling out music. It was, as I have come to put it “Crazy Asian Music” with loud bells chiming and off tune harps twanging. The setting, however, was not, by any means frightening; it was the 60 year old Vietnamese women insisting that I “Take off all Clothes” that started to make me worry.
After telling me to take off all my clothes, in highly broken English I might add, she stormed out of the room closing the door rather loudly. At this point I am still eager to get the most for my brother’s buck so I stripped down to my skivvies, wrapped a towel around my waist and laid down face first on the table. I heard the door close as the woman came back into the room, I heard her footsteps behind me and then I felt her grab the towel around my waist and yank it away. That was the moment when terror started to sink in. She then continued her rant demanding all of my clothes, and I continuously insisted that my boxers were a necessity. It was, in the end her persistence and my bothers money that made me break. I rolled off the bed and very quickly replaced my boxers with a towel.
There was a strange sensation I had from being naked and alone in a room with an old Vietnamese immigrant, I was mortified. Yet again I tried to enjoy the experience but it was useless. She began to ask me what brought me to California. I was on a trip to see several universities in the area, so I told her I was “college shopping.” That set her off on a rant about how I need to make lots of money, even if I hate my job. Every so often she would lean in behind my ear to whisper something like “Women will think you sexy, if have money!” I told her that I would keep that in mind and just shut my eyes and prayed that the hour would soon be up, yet it was only fifteen minutes into the massage and I had not been through anything yet.
The whispering grew more frequent as the hour progressed and her voice got increasingly sketchy, like a witch trying to put me under a spell. Then she once again whipped the towel from my glutinous maximus, leaving it out in the open and completely bare. I was in a full state of shock; we are talking shaking in full terror shock like someone who has just been violated. Then I was violated. She poured oil on my butt and decided that it was a good area to massage extensively.
At one point during my butt massage she leaned into my ear to remind me to “use condom while in California!” I have no desire to find out what made her think of such a thing but it was the scariest thing and it was crossing the line! The woman then got up on the table, put her knees and hands on my body and performed some sort of full body technique I can only hope she didn’t learn from Karma-sutra.
When the hour was up I dived off the table, threw on my boxers and bolted down the hall. There was a bathroom four doors down and I took cover in it for a while. So here I am hiding in a bathroom from a short Asian woman, when I realize that I need my pants. So I have to go back into the room and put them on. I survived but will forever live with the emotional scars.
True terror comes in all shapes and sizes, mine came in the figure of a little, old and extremely creepy Vietnamese woman. I will never be able to forget that experience, it is a favorite story of mine among friends and Mike will never let me live it down. It is a story I will someday tell my kids; I will tell them that you never know what form terror my take, but the best thing to do is laugh at it when it ends.