The “Foot Massage”

Lover Fo Life and I have known each other for essentially half of our lives at this point. In the years since we became Perma-BFFs, we’ve managed to get into some wacky hi-jinx, it almost seems like there is an eternal wellspring of nonsense. Yesterday was no exception.

So sit back, relax and enjoy yet another dispatch from our wealth of shenanigans!

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The “Foot Massage”

Every Sunday, my Dad comes to visit, without fail. He sees it as a way to give L4L and I a day off to run errands, relax, and enjoy some kid-free adult time, it’s quite wonderful. Each week, within 20 minutes of Dad AKA Grandpa arriving, Angry Baby usually kicks us out the door. As far as she’s concerned, we’re nothing but hurdles in her race to unlimited spoiling, toys and candy.

As we greeted the dreary day yesterday, L4L and I decided to punish our bodies and feet in ways that neither deserved, we opted to visit IKEA Houston. We were treated to a horde of college kids, bearded hipster dads, and pushy lesbians, all in a quest for the same Floogenhoffen side tables and moderately priced arm chairs.

After hours fighting the throngs of people and trudging across the vast concrete prairies, we decided to grab a bite at the IKEA cafe. I sipped on my usual lingonberry juice and marveled at how delicious/ non-dog food tasting IKEA’s lunch offerings were, while we planned the remainder of the day. It was decided that we’d throw all of our hastily acquired modern furniture into the truck, and then canvas every Target/ Walmart/ Toys R Us in a 50 mile radius, looking for more stock for my current cash crop, Shopkins.

I don’t call my Shopkins biz, “the grind,” for nothing, and yesterday proved that term to be true more than ever. 10 Stores later, we had bupkis, and all that was left to show were a couple of people sporting some very tired dogs. Unfortunately, we were also in an exceptionally seedy part of town, a place that many realtors would church up by calling “in transition.” We began to make our way home, back to our affluent suburban splendor that we have grown accustomed to. L4L let out a groan,”Man, my feet are beat, I sure could go for a foot massage at Oasis.”

For years, we’ve visited a little Spa in our shire known for giving wonderful reflexology rubdowns, when we started going, it was possible just to walk in and get relaxin’, with no appointment. These days, thanks to the well-heeled skanks in our town (who hang on my every recommendation,) the place is usually jam-packed. Ever the optimist, I decided to give the old man who runs the place a call. After minutes of furiously leafing through his appointment book, he instructed us to come on over, he’d find a way to work us in. We had one last dumpy Target to hit, and then we’d be back in the warm embrace of our sanitized suburb, ready to be massaged like veal.

L4L was giddy, say what he will, he enjoys my tenacity and pushy salesman techniques on the phone, “I can’t wait to get to Oasis!” 20 minutes later, after a fruitless grind at said shady Target, we were on our way to relaxation station, when I received a call back from our benevolent business owner: “Ma’am I’m sorry, we can’t work you in today,” I made appointments for the following Sunday, and relayed the news to a disappointed Lover Fo’ Life. I hate seeing him let down, so much like a badger in a trash can, I began thinking of alternatives. As luck would have it, this particular run-down part of Houston we found ourselves in, was chock-full of massage parlors; places famous for being the source of multiple Vice Squad stings, luridly reported by our local yokel news stations.

After a few jokes about rub & tugs, L4L postulated that “surely there’s a legitimate foot massage place around here.” Dubious, I decided to look for one. Afterall, I hate losing and double despise a disappointed BFF. Not much later, we found a place in a strip mall sandwiched between an Indian buffet restaurant and cheap furniture store. The Window had a large neon sign that flashed: “Foot Massages.”

I hesitated for a moment, “I haven’t had a pedicure in months, my feet are a hot-mess express. I’m going to be so embarrassed dragging these hooves in there.” L4L chuckled, “Oh come on, live a little! We never have to see these people again, and if it’s no good, we’ve still got those appointments you booked for next Sunday at Oasis.” We made our final approach to the heavily tinted doorway, something seemed odd. Once inside we were greeted with a dimly-lit, empty place. There was no one to meet us, only a steady thumping of Benny Benassi’s greatest hits being played entirely too loud for a relaxing spa soundtrack. As the overpowering stench of incense permeated my nostrils, I knew something was amiss. I began to suggest we GTFO, when a kind woman greeted us. “Oh, uh, hello. How are you today?”

“Good,” L4L answered, “we’re here for a foot massage.”

“It’ll be 30 dollars,” she instantly replied, and then gestured for me to sit on one of two cheap white pleather couches, no doubt purchased from the horrid little place next door.

“No, we both would like a foot massage,” I explained.

“Oh, you want foot massage too?” Her genuine surprise was visible, but unconcerned, she led us to two repurposed pedicure chairs that had been put upon a large wooden box, she then hurried to the back and in a language we couldn’t understand, besieged a woman to come assist. After a few moments,  A friendly lady, chatty and energetic, came from behind a screen, that I could now see covered up a long hallway of additional massage rooms and couches.

It’s at this point in the story that I remind you hindsight is 20/20.

Sure, today as I write and regale you with this sleazy tale, it seems crystal clear that our naive suburban splendor had us oblivious to tell-tale signs that we had happened upon not a Reflexology clinic, but nothing more than a common Jack Shack™. 

For all of you clean-living, wide-eyed virgins out there, I’ll explain.  Jack Shacks™are humble little establishments where dudes can get their giblets jangled for a nominal fee. These sexy assembly lines are known all over our fair city because one can’t go a few weeks without hearing about police busting up a chain of these boner bars. As a lady, Jack Shacks™bum me out, not because I give a crap if dudes wanna pay for an old-fashioned, but my feminist sympathies educated me long ago that Jack Shacks™ are often staffed with Human trafficking victims.

Luckily, these two broads were older and wiser, a couple of pals doing a sort of dong relay race to pay for the gobs of makeup and glamorous polyester shifts they were rocking this gloomy Sunday.  Lover Fo’ Life and I settled into the chairs, the massage feature on mine didn’t work, but L4L’s did and as both women fawned on him and asked him about work, I sat there, like chopped liver, in a broken chair, with no one pretending to give a f*ck about my “day off.” It was pretty clear to me that my lady was not looking forward to slathering my shrimp toes with fine lotions and liniments. The ladies retreated to get massage supplies, blissfully unaware, we anticipated and chit-chatted. “Pour one out for ol’ girl, she’s about to have to interact with these wolf toes!,” I joked.

They returned with a few hot wet towels. No customary bamboo buckets lined for my protection and filled with scalding water to softern my hobbit feet, no switch from house music to Enya, nothing. “OH WAIT!” The boss lady (poor woman saddled with shrimpy,) retrieved us both a tiny bottled water. When I accepted the gifted water, I saw a sense of respectable pride. Sure, it wasn’t our posh and lavish Oasis, a place where one can easily blow 100 bucks on an hour of foot/leg/scalp heaven, but this kind woman in her shabby establishment had at least one vesitge of a Day Spa.

What followed was the most uncomfortable and terrible leg massages, ever. About 5 minutes into the nothing, it became clear that these women didn’t know the first thing about reflexology, and they damn sure weren’t accustomed to working that hard. Still, like pizza, any massage is better than none, so I leaned back in my chair, and closed my eyes. I began to listen to the Benny Benassi song that I could now tell was a 14 minute long remix of his Strip club anthem, “I Love My Sex.” The thumping soundtrack, evokes neon-lit cocaine binges tinged with unabashed greed, I focused on the lyrics, “I love gowns, perfume, cars money…AND I LOOOVE MY SEX sex sex sex sex.”

Just as I was about to get L4L’s attention, the door to this house of ill repute flew open. Blinded by the daylight, I made out a figure, it was a shabbily dressed man in sweatpants and an undershirt. He also seemed genuinely surprised to see me, as he blurted out an overly friendly “hello,” Boss Lady lit up, “Oh hello friend! We’re busy doing a foot massage, come back in 30 minutes!” Shabby dude then gave an overly friendly, “Great, see you soon!” I was genuinely impressed at the rapport this dirty little crappy massage joint had with their customer, and while he looked like a schlub, I found the customer’s  cheerful demeanor to be delightful. That is, until I saw his junk flopping in the sweatpants. Seemed homeboy was sporting a semi and after he lead his chub out the door like it was a dachshund at Westminster, I shot L4L a look. He was looking right back at me. Our wordless gaze spoke volumes. “HOLY SH*T THIS IS A JACK SHACK™!”

Not wanting to get knifed by the Tony Soprano type that surely shook this place down weekly for “his cut,” I played it cool. I didn’t want these sex workers to know that I knew that they were sex workers. Besides, now that I knew my feet were the least disgusting thing she was doing that afternoon, I could FINALLY relax and stop feeling bad about my grizzled feets. I went back to the Fancy Lad Disco soundtrack, which was merely the same song, “I Love My Sex,” on repeat. Apparently, one 14 minute extended remix is all one needs on a loop when you’re cranking out extended penises.

Ten minutes later, a slight man who looked like he was “just running out to get bread,” (while in truth he was out to get milked,) opened the door. He was wiser, and didn’t set foot in the place, he yelled into the room instead, “Y’all busy? Oh I’m sorry, I’ll come back.”  Boss Lady chirped up”Hello friend! Come back in 30 minutes, we’ll be ready for you then!!” It dawned on me that these women were accustomed to working a lot less for a lot more money, and we were holding up their REAL business. Because we were in total sync, L4L began talking about how “we needed to get back soon to send Grandpa home.”

“Yes, it’s been nice having these wonderful (they were terrible) massages, thanks ladies.” Faster than you can say, “pump jack,” we were back in our shoes and settling the bill. Chatty Lady had to get Boss Lady to show her how to use the debit card machine, the old pro had no clue how to process anything BUT CASH. While Boss Lady rang the sale up, Chatty chatted us, “So, are you brother and sister??” “No, we’re married,”she couldn’t hide her shock, the fact that a wife would accompany her husband to a Jack Shack™seemed inconcievable to her. Thankfully, Boss Lady handed us the receipt and we quickly departed the den of inequity. I began counting down to a week later, when I’d be settling into a luxurious foot massage at my beloved Oasis, a place that most certainly does not condone such sleaze.

Looking back on the fact that we visited a Jack Shack™, I can honestly say, the foot massage was basically Boss Lady rubbing my legs briskly like she was churning butter, not used to getting her hands so dirty. She merely decided to treat my legs like they were big wangs and just did her usual. After our hysterical laughter subsided, L4L and I swore not to tell my Dad when we got back. “I can’t wait to read the blog post,” Lover for Life guffawed.

Finally safe in our sanitized community, we retreated to our house, desperate for a shower to wash the peen rubbing prints off of my legs, I showered while L4L took it upon himself to do a little internet research. According to a real site called “Rub Maps(!)”Seems our den of sin was in fact a full-fledged Jack Shack™, with ratings, and recommendations, all listed online. You can peruse it here, apparently Boss Lady’s fake name is Linda, and she keeps a clean kitten, whatever that means. They really do have a Yelp for everything. 

Sadly, there are no non-sleazy foot massage places in Houston, even our suburban jewel, apparently has a few sluts open to fully relaxing the hard up. Oh sure, as I gaze over the well-heeled (mostly female) clients next week, I’ll secretly wonder how many noodles are getting the down-low special that day, but quite honestly, I don’t care. They do a great job, have fancy cucumber water and pipe in Enya, not sweaty grind fodder. Though part of me wants to prank L4L and pull a masseuse aside and order an awkward ending of an unwanted plum grope attempt, I’ve thought better of it and will decline sure-fire comedy gold.

In closing, Suck it Dallas. Houston is #1 in yet another area. H-TOWN! H-TOWN! H-TOWN!

The (happy) end.