|My back – post-therapy|
As a follow up to “Confessions of a Language Faker” I thought I might share a story . . . you know . . . for the children . . . in hopes that they will learn from the error of my ways and stay far, far away from the slippery slope of fraudulent linguistic aspirations (if you pretended to know what that is, it may already be too late).
I had lived in China for just more than a year when I developed an acute case of vetebral subluxation. What does that mean you ask (and if you did there may be hope for you yet). It means I threw my back out (not uncommon). My vertebrae were conspiring to realign themselves into horizontibrae and I was in excruciating pain. Thankfully it only hurt when I breathed.
There is a phenomenon in China known as “blind massage.” Just in case you don’t understand (and are afraid to admit it) let me break it apart for you. “Blind massage” is this . . . people who are blind . . . that give massages. Simple right? Just like it sounds. But wait, there’s more. If you’re looking for a relaxing, tension relieving, “Calgon, take me away shoulder rub . . . stay away from the blind massage! However, if your need is genuine relief from back pain and you are prepared for a deep, DEEEP tissue, elbows into your pancreas, spine gouging therapeutic treatment . . . then you cannot find a more painfully healing option. [You have been warned] However, desperate times call for desperate measures and I find that I am at my most desperate when I am curled into a fetal position, unable to move without squealing like a baby pig (with vetebral subluxation). So I went.
The massage was painful but my lack of understanding was even more so. My masseuse may not may not have been able to see me but the fact that I was a foreigner was High Definition clear. He spoke slowly and loudly (much like a flight attendant on an international flight) but I still was only catching bits and pieces of his Chinese. I did understand, “sheesh, you’re spine is messed up dude” and “hold still, I’m gonna’ dig my elbow into your pancreas” but beyond that I was clueless. However I was willfully choosing NOT to fake it. I just kept saying, “ting bu dong” (which roughly translated means, “I see your mouth moving and I hear noise coming out but I do NOT comprehend your meaning”). Then he got all urgent on me. You NEED blabbedy blabbedy blabbedy blah”
“Ting bu dong”
Louder and slower, “YOU NEED blabbedy blabbedy blabbedy blah!”
Still, “Ting bu dong”
So he pointed to his list of services sign.
“Umm . . . Kan bu dong” (same thing as “ting bu dong” only it means, “not only do I not understand what you are saying . . . I can’t read either)
So he violently started poking the sign and speaking even louder, slower and in Spanish (I swear most of this is true) “YOU NEEDO EL BLABBEDO BLABBEDO DEL BLABBEDO BLAH . . . Senor.”
And I cracked.
It was a moment of weakness that I would soon regret but I realized that he wasn’t going to give up. I pretended to understand his Chinese. “Ohhh . . . ok then, I’ll buy that.” And he left the room.
He came back with a rolling table full of glass globes, a stick dipped in rubbing alcohol and a cheap lighter. One by one he lit the stick and held it into the upside-down globes pulling all of the oxygen from the inner part. Then he strategically attached them to my back in an effort to pull out the toxins in my blood, remove the fire in my body (that’s another blog) and realign my twisted spine. The result was 28 massive (although perfectly round) hickeys and a back that felt great . . . until the next day when I returned to the fetal position.
So heed my warning children. When in China, swallow your pride. Stick with “ting bu dong” or even better, learn Chinese but fight the urge to fake it. You may get away with it once . . . twice . . . maybe a dozen times or more . . . but one day you’ll wake up and realize that you slipped on the slope and you might just have a problem. You might also have 28 massive hickeys on your back. I tried to tell you.