I'm at the Bread Basket Cafe this morning when a man shows up selling massage oil. Not just any massage oil. This is special massage oil. He has told me so the many times I have met him. Made in Bali only, the island of the gods, and something any foreigner would die for, or at least pay dearly for. This is apparent to all street sellers who sell the special massage oil.
"No," I say as he approaches.
He holds out the precious oil (handling it carefully of course).
"Yes," he says. "You like."
I don't know whether he remembers the last time we talked. Or the time before. Or whether he remembers me at all. Maybe all bules look the same to Asians, just like all Asians look the same to bules. Or perhaps he thinks that the tenth offer is a charm, that on the tenth time around we will shake off all previous reticence and realize that Yes, it turns out that we really do what that oil.
But this is clearly not yet the tenth time around, for I shake my head again.
Far from discouraged, the man slips the precious bottle into his left pant pocket and then slowly slides a little box to the top of his right pocket, just enough so that the name of the product is peeking out.
"No," I say.
"Yes," he says.
"I don't need it," I say.
"Yes. Yes you do," he assures me, withdrawing the little box completely from his pocket and placing it on the edge of my table. Curious people at nearby tables are looking on. The man puts his thumb up erectly and grins.
"Really, I don't need it," I say. "I have a girl for that."
"No, this no for need. This for fun."
I'm convinced by now that the people at the nearby tables are asking themselves 'Will he buy it or not? Maybe he needs it. He looks pretty old.'
"No, no, no," I say. The girl is enough fun on her own. No need pill."
"Only dua ratus ribu," he whispers, as if fearing that he will be crushed in the ensuing stampede if anyone overhears this bargain price. "Very cheap."
Dua ratus ribu? That's cheap all right. About fourteen US dollars. The man is likely selling little blue vitamins. Or Skittles. Clever.
He moves the box from the edge of the table to the center of my plate.
"No really, I'm okay," I exclaim, as much, perhaps, for the benefit of the onlookers as for he. "I swear to God, I don't need it!"
I pick up the box and hand it back to him, hoping that this has been clearly observed by all.
Discouraged at last, the man sullenly returns the box to his pocket and moves on. But I know what he's thinking. He's thinking 'Maybe next time, ya? Maybe tomorrow. Maybe at whatever cafe you visit the length of this entire town. I'll be there, and you'll be there, and every dog must have its day.'