Friday, April 21, 2017


After going to the dentist yesterday to request nondental medication, she prescribed two muscle relaxers, diazepam, and the more potent Xanax. Coba dua-duanya, dia bilang, lihat apa akan paling efektif. What I discovered later on is that if you want to render someone unconscious, including oneself, Xanax is the ticket. I took two 1 mg tablets at around noon, felt a bit spacy, laid down, and the next thing I knew, it was 4 o’clock in the morning. Nor did I know that I hadn’t gone to bed at the usual time, until I wandered out and found both front and back door open, the fan still running, and evidence that the big fat dog had visited at some point and left hotdog wrapper in the front room. I tried to put this all together in my head for some time, got tired, and therefore went back to sleep until about 8 in the morning.
Before all this, however – between the time I saw the dentist and the time I came home – I visited a local apotek on Jalan Tamblingan, which the doctor had recommended as cheaper than Kimia Pharmacy. Helps to know people who know. After purchasing the medications there, the pharmacist suggested that I might benefit from a massage. My initial response was no, no thanks, but then I thought again – given the pain in my back, and stiffness in my muscles, why not? A large, middle-aged Balinese woman stood at ready, with hands that looked like they could subdue the most frozen of muscles, hands that looked like they could turn bricks to clay. So yeah, why not?
And the funny thing is, these hands, though possessing the gristly bulk of hamhocks, rubbed and smoothed and kneaded like drifting gossamer clouds, caressing away the stiffness as if it had merely been a top layer of soil.
Now, as I’ve said before, Americans are not used to the way massages are done in Indonesia. In America, you go in, disrobe, cover your private parts with the substantial towel provided for that purpose, and the masseuse carefully maintains that cover throughout the massage. I cannot help but notice, however, that, here, no towel has been provided. Or sarung. Or fig leaf.
So I take off my shirt, lie down on my stomach, ready to go.
Umm, the woman says.
Bisa buka celana, Pak?
I undo my belt, unbutton the pants and lie down again.
At which point the woman with the massive grip pulls off my shorts, leaves my underwear, but folds down the back to expose my ass.
Oh well. I guess, for a masseuse, one ass is basically the same as another.
And so she goes to work; and, as I’ve said, it is quite pleasant. Not painful and possibly life-threatening like the last massage I had, but just constant and soft and firm and confident.
After half an hour on the back, she is ready for the front.
She begins with my feet, moves to my calves, and then begins to caress the inner parts of my thighs. And then something untoward, something unspeakable begins to happen. Every time she runs her hand along my upper thigh, her fingers make accidental contact with my testicles and penis. Not that she is aiming for these parts, not at all – but just because they’re there. Worse yet, those parts begin to become aroused. Unmistakably so. Oh my God, shrieks my puritanical blood. How utterly inappropriate. How humiliating. What must this poor woman think.
I try to think of baseball, mathematics, the death of my grandfather, nuclear war – all to no avail.
Maaf, Ibu, I mutter into the towel that thankfully covers my face. Saya jadi keras tanpa sengaja. Memalukan. Maaf.
Ohhh, tidak, she answers. Jangan kuatir. Nggak apa-apa. Berarti bapak bisa beranak lagi. Itu aja.
In other words, it’s no big deal. So to speak. And where stiffness is concerned, this particular sort need not be considered a problem.

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