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Dim Sum and Then Some

Sarah and I had been back from London for almost two months, in which time she had landed herself another man. Lydia, Ivory, and I met Sarah for breakfast and were grilling her about the new guy she had started seeing. Hes really sweet, Sarah informed us.

Hes Hungarian, Ivory said, correcting her. Ivory doesnt often mince her words and has a different way of expressing herself than I do. Her style is more direct and she doesnt lie. While she is a very supportive friend, she makes no bones about telling people the absolute truth no matter what. When, months earlier, I had gotten my eyebrows bleached in hopes of making my hair color look more natural, she said, You look like an albino, and not one of the fun ones. You need to get your money back and have them fix it. If they cant fix it, youre better off without any at all.

Who cares if hes Hungarian? Lydia said, defending Sarah. Whats important is the way he treats her.

Does he have a big penis? I asked.

Not sure, Sarah said.

What does that mean? Ivory asked.

Weve only dry humped, Sarah told us.

By the way Ivory reacted to this information, you would have thought Sarah had told her that she had become romantically involved with Flavor Flav.

Dry humping is disgusting, Ivory declared, throwing her fork down onto the table. Its for junior high-schoolers. What is the point of a guy lying on top of you fully clothed, and then coming in his pants? What does that even mean?

It obviously means that the two people involved are at the beginning of a very meaningful relationship, I answered. What do you think they did in the seventeenth century when there were layers and layers of petticoats and knickers? I redirected my attention to Sarah. I have no problem with the dry hump. I think it can be very magical, especially if youve got one of David Hasselhoffs records playing in the background. Whats his name again? I asked, knowing full well what his name was but wanting Sarah to say it aloud.

Coolio, Sarah said in the lowest voice possible.

And hes white, I added.

Thats not so bad, Lydia said unconvincingly. There are a lot of worse names than Coolio.

Like what? Ivory asked. Rumplestiltskin?

No, likeEminem.

Yes, I said, but Eminem is a rapper. At least he has some tie to the African-American community. Coolio is Hungarian.

Does Coolio rap? Ivory asked Sarah.

I dont think so, she said.

I think youd know if he rapped, I told her. Thats not exactly something you just do on the side.

That cant be his real name, Ivory said.

Its not, Sarah said. He told me the other day that it was time for me to start calling him by his first name, but I have no idea what it is. Everyone calls him Coolio.

Im sorry, but that is a really ridiculous nickname. Thats worse than Sugar Tits, I said, remembering what was written under my high school yearbook picture.

Chelsea, Lydia jumped in. I dont think you have any room to make fun of Sarahs fat, smelly boyfriend. You dated Big Red and then got dumped by him.

This is true, I said. But Big Red was cute in adifferent kind ofway.

No he wasnt, all three of them said in unison.

The point is, Lydia announced, that you like him and he likes you, and after everything thats happened to you in the past year, you deserve it. Lydia was of course referring to Sarah being broken up with by her fianc'e two weeks before their wedding.

Do you have a thing for foreigners? Ivory asked Sarah, realizing a pattern.

I think its wonderful, Lydia declared.

Wonderful is a word that should really only be used by gay men, I said to Lydia.

It really is, Ivory agreed.

Shut up, Lydia said to both of us. Just shut up.

Lydia was experimenting with her newfound positivity and it was hard to get used to such a drastic change. A month earlier, after popping two Vicodin on a plane from L.A. to New York, Lydia had cheated on her boyfriend of three years with the Navy SEAL sitting next to her. They were in a full make-out session until the flight attendant approached her and said there had been several complaints from other passengers about groans they had heard coming from her aisle. Based on her therapists advice, Lydia joined the Landmark Forum, one of those life-enhancement seminars, and she already had a completely new lease on life. She had become increasingly sympathetic and supportive, and it was becoming almost intolerable.

I want a massage, I announced.

Me too, Sarah said. Im dying for one.

Youre not going to get in anywhere on a Saturday, Ivory told us.

I turned and looked at Ivory. Hey, Debbie Downer, what exactly is your problem today?

Sorry, she said. I had a rough night.


I went to Air Conditioning. Air Conditioning was a new bar that had opened up down the street from Ivorys apartment. She had been there every night since its opening two weeks earlier.

With who? I asked her.

Myself, she said. I went by myself.

The three of us looked at her pitifully. Youre a real hot mess, I told her.

Believe me, I know. You know youre a hot mess when the only person buying you drinks all night is yourself, she told us.

Isnt Air Conditioning a dance club? asked Lydia.

Yes, I said to Lydia, and turned to Ivory. Who were you dancing with?

Myself. Ivory had been unemployed for the past nine months and it had clearly started taking its toll. You know how you know youre really a hot mess? she asked us all. When you make friends with a group of people at a bar, and as youre walking away at the end of the night, you turn around to wave good-bye, and none of them are even looking in your direction.

I turned to Sarah to avoid looking at Ivory any longer. Theres a bunch of those little shitholes on Pico where you can get a massage and you dont need an appointment. You can just walk in. But theyre kind of gross, I told Sarah. To be honest, I really dont care; I need a massage.

Me too, Sarah said. Lets go.

We paid our check and jumped in Sarahs car since I was on my moped. After walking into three different places on Pico that had no availability, we found a spot that had a screen door with Japanese writing above it.

Inside, the carpeting was gray with a large dark stain right in front of a tall white counter. Behind the counter there were three Japanese women, all wearing alarmingly bright lipstick. On the wall behind them, an enormous print of a red rose hung with a black Formica frame holding it in place. It was by far the dirtiest place I had ever voluntarily walked into, and thats including a barn I had once passed out in after a pie-eating contest.

Hi, Sarah said in her sweet, high voice. Do you have any massages available?

The three women looked at each other, and then the head Asian said, Wicense, please.

Im sorry? Sarah asked.

We need wicense before massage. Sarah looked at me to see if I knew what the woman was saying-since Ive been known to have an ear for different dialects.

License? I asked.

Yeah, wicense, she said again.

Oh my God, Sarah said under her breath, digging through her purse to find her license.

Why the hell do they need our license? I asked her. Are we getting pulled over?

Must pay fuhst.

Before the massage? I asked the head Asian.

Yes, she said, smiling. Before.

This is ridiculous, Sarah said again.

I know, but my back is killing me. I need someone to get these knots out.

This is obviously a whore house, she said under her breath.

I handed the woman my license.

What are you doing? Sarah asked me.

Well, I dont care if it is a whore house, Im sure they know how to give massages too, I told her. Then I looked back at the head mistress, Dim Sum. Do you give massages or just happy endings?

No happy ending here! she screamed.

Oh, Jesus, Sarah groaned.

You pay fuhst, Dim Sum barked. One hundred dollah.

A hundred bucks?

You pay fuhst, she said. Cash only.

That seems pretty steep for a place that doesnt even go down on us, I mumbled to Sarah as I got money out of my bra.

You go in back and lay down! Dim Sum was looking at me, and one of the younger girls standing behind her nodded her head and smiled at me. I looked at Sarah, who was watching Dim Sum put the money I had handed her directly into her pants pocket.

My future masseuse came out from behind the counter and was wearing a white cotton miniskirt that barely covered her ass, which, by the way, was the size of a mini DVD. She had on four-inch white stiletto pumps holding up the two cigarettes she had for legs, and long black hair that left a distinct smell of wonton soup in its wake. I surmised that, without heels, she couldnt have been more than four-feet-eleven inches, which normally I would find adorable, but only if the person is extremely overweight.

She led me down the hall to a room, opened the door, and said, Go lay down. Inside the room there was a twin bed with white sheets on it and a small chest of drawers next to it made out of the same black Formica as the picture frame in the lobby. Obviously, this was a furniture set Dim Sum had registered for at the Japanese version of Pier One. From the chest of drawers, the girl pulled out three large white towels and placed them down on top of the bed. See, I thought to myself. This isnt so bad. At least theyre hygienic.

Then she closed the door and stood facing me with her arms folded. I wanted her to know that I wasnt some lesbian trying to get some action, I simply wanted a massage Although, to be perfectly honest, there has been an occasion or two where Ive received massages that were so enjoyable and relaxing that had the masseuse buried her head in my hot pocket, I probably wouldnt have put up much of a fight.

I didnt know what my next move should be, so I opted for some light stretching.

Cwothes off! Underwear stay on! she said after I had stepped into a deep lunge.

Okay, okay. Can we at least turn the lights off? I asked her, not feeling entirely comfortable getting naked in front of someone who I could carry in a Baby Bjorn.

After I received no response from the masseuse I had nicknamed Memoirs of a Geisha, I started to unzip my jeans while hopping on one foot to take off one of my boots. I didnt understand why she had to watch me undress. I wanted to remind her that I wasnt the prostitute in this situation; I was just a nice girl from New Jersey trying to get a back rub.

A normal person would have realized at this point that things were not on the up and up, but I have always been willing to forgo standard operating procedure for an activity that requires you to do nothing in return. Do you think youd be more comfortable without those shoes on? I asked. They must be killing your feet. I wanted to make this a pleasant experience for us both.

Once I was down to my bra and underwear, I turned my back in modesty to take off my bra, then jumped onto the bed, which had as much bounce as a dining room table.

I put my face directly down on the towel, with no pillow, and put my arms to my sides. On your mark, get set, go! I yelled.

Put this over your tushy, she said, handing me a washcloth large enough to cover one half of an ass cheek. Being on my stomach, and not being able to perfectly place the towel, I spastically put it over the center of the back of my thong in order to cover a little of each cheek.

The first thing I felt was a towel on the back of my shoulder. I wasnt familiar with this kind of technique but felt it was best I kept my mouth shut. For the next ten minutes she continued rubbing my back through the towel, so the primary sensation I was feeling was the towel, which wasnt much different than getting a massage after rolling around in a pile of sand. If anything, this was more of an exfoliation.

I found it ironic, considering my surroundings, that I was the one being cleaned off with a towel, but obviously Memoirs of a Geisha danced to the beat of her own drummer. Or hummer. Whichever. The point is, I was expecting her to make some hand-to-skin contact once she had disinfected me. This never happened. The next twenty minutes were spent in the same manner, with her using a towel to rub me. It became apparent that she hadnt been cleaning me at all. That this was, in fact, the massage.

I wanted to inform her that if this was the way she gave happy endings, it was no wonder they were empty on a Saturday. If there was any service being offered here it was blue balls Unlike some women, I can sympathize with what blue balls can do to a man because of some early childhood experiences.

I thought back to when I was thirteen and on my very first date with Justin Ledwith. We were in a movie theater in Marthas Vineyard and he had put his arm around me, but even with all my advances, he refused to lean in for some tongue. I put my hand on his knee repeatedly, slowly moving toward his upper thigh, repeatedly brushing by his ball sack, over and over, to no avail. By the end of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, I was so hard up for some action, I practically finger-blasted myself.

I craned my neck to look back over my shoulder at Memoirs of a Geisha questioningly, to somehow convey to her that this wasnt something I was enjoying. You likey? she asked me.

No. No likey. I took the towel out of her hand and threw it on the floor. No towel, I said, and grabbed her hand to redirect it to my back. Rub my skin.

It was clear she didnt understand what I was saying because she walked out of the room and shut the door. A minute later Dim Sum walked in without Memoirs, but with another heavier Asian who weighed close to three hundred pounds and may have very well been a Sumo wrestler. My instincts told me that it was a woman, but I couldnt be sure.

You no want massage! Dim Sum yelled.

Yes, yes, I do want massage, I told her. Just not with that softscrub towel.

You want sucky sucky! No sucky sucky here!

Huh? I asked.

This not sucky sucky place, we dont do that, wesbian!

No, I argued. I dont want sucky sucky, I just want a massage. Its okay if she doesnt know how to give a massage, but could she at least tickle my back?

No happy ending! she yelled, getting louder.

I dont want a happy ending, you hot mess, I just want a little back rub. She can even just write letters on my back, if thats easier, and Ill guess what they are. Im really not trying to be difficult. It was mildly humiliating to be arguing with Dim Sum while I was lying naked on a table and being called a wesbian.

Listen, Im not the police, Im not going to tell anyone about this place. I dont care if there are girls giving handjobs in the next room, right this very minute. I just want a goddamn massage.

You are bad girl, we have no bad girls here, she said, shaking her head.

That was it. Listen, Dim Sum, you little fuck fuck, I didnt pay a hundred dollars for a fucking towel rub. It hurts!

You bad bad girl, you go home, no sucky sucky here!

Oh, for fucks sake, whatever, I said as I got up to get dressed. Before I could grab any clothing, the Sumo grabbed my shoulders, and forced me back down, this time with my back on the table, and then laid on top of me face-to-face. She was heavy, and reeked of beef with broccoli.

My boobs were being flattened and hadnt been in this much pain since I had hooked up with a thirty-year-old who wore braces. They were the clear kind and I didnt realize he even had them until he undid my bra and headed toward my areola.

My breathing was becoming strained and my eyes were starting to roll back in my head. No! I yelled. Mustering up my last ounce of strength, I put my forehead to hers, grabbed her cheeks, and screamed, My body, my choice!

Finally, Tons of Fun rolled off me and they both stood there while I got dressed.

Id like my hundred dollars back, I told Dim Sum.

I dont think so, buddy, Dim Sum replied in perfect English.

Well, I want my license, I told her. She reached in her pocket and held it above her head as she walked out of the room and headed toward the front door. Once she reached the door, she leaned outside and threw my license onto the sidewalk. I looked at both of them, horrified. This is no way to run a business, I told Dim Sum, and then looked at Tons of Fun. And you might want to lay off the carbs, you fucking wildebeest.

I walked outside and called Sarahs cell phone. She picked up on the first ring. Are you still in there? I asked her.

No, she said, are you kidding? I hightailed it. Im at Whole Foods down the street. I was not about to get a massage there.

Oh, thats nice, thanks for leaving me.

Im right down the street, she said. Just walk down here. I thought youd be an hour.

I got kicked out.


Yeah. They kicked me out and told me never to come back, and called me a wesbian.


Yeah, and thats not the worst of it, I told her. I think I just got dry humped. By a woman. And paid for it.

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