Now playing:
Toto
Recorded 1986

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

No Boom Boom For Jeff

 Vietnam – No ‘boom boom’ for Jeff

“So how do you feel about a massage tonight? The Vietnamese give the best massages in world,” pontificates Stan.

Our boat is pulling into a little harbor on Cat Ba Island, and Stan has become our tour’s self-appointed expert on everything. One of the items on today’s itinerary is a ‘Swim Break,’ and Stan, who boasts he swims a mile every day, is keen on having his daily swim. I decline, as we’re anchored just off of a huge floating boat city. The thought of swimming in who-knows-what doesn’t appeal to me so I opt to remain on the boat. Although I generally avoid spending any more time with Stan than I have to, a massage sounds like a good idea.

“What kind of massage?”  I ask cautiously.

“Just a regular massage - no boom boom,” Stan replies. I don’t have to be a genius to figure out what boom boom is. 

“Okay,” I reply, “I could use a massage.”

Stan jumps in for his swim, and when we return to the dock at Cat Ba Island, he is very keen on having a shower, probably due to the ‘floating matter’ he was swimming in. I offer to scout out the little town and look for a suitable place to have a massage. 

There are several massage parlors along the waterfront. Some of them appear legitimate; but one in particular does not. As I walk past it, two attractive young women wearing low cut orange dresses and sporting heavy orange make-up try to entice me into their shop. 

“You want boom boom?” they ask. 

“No,” I answer. “Just a regular massage. No boom boom.” 

They are very insistent and won’t take no for an answer. Finally, to get rid of them, I imply I might come by later and move away from the shop as fast as I can.   

I mention the search for a decent massage place to our guide, Stretch, who says he has a good buddy who’s a professional masseur. Apparently Stan and I can get great massages from him for only 5 bucks each.

At dinner Stan doesn’t look very well. In fact, he’s looking a bit green. And for the first time in two days, he doesn’t offer an opinion on any subject. He says he’s not feeling well so will skip dinner and the massage and just go to bed. I guess swimming in raw sewage didn’t agree with him. No one else in our group is interested in massages. Led by the English girls, they are heading out for drinks. So now there’s only me. Stretch is going to pick me up on his motor bike in an hour and take me to his buddy’s bar for my massage.

Not wanting to carry a lot of cash at night I throw a just few dollars into my pocket and head downstairs. Stretch is about 10 minutes late. I’m sitting on the hotel steps waiting for him when he pulls up on the motorbike.

“Where we going?” he asks, as I climb on.
“I thought we were going for a massage,” I answer, a bit puzzled, since he’d only offered this about an hour ago.
“You want boom boom?”
“No! I told you, Stretch, no boom boom - just a regular massage!”  

Then it dawns on me. This is NOT Stretch driving the motorbike. I have jumped on a complete stranger’s motorbike, and we are now heading directly towards the establishment of the ladies in orange make-up. I’m trapped! We’re going too fast for me to jump off. The driver pulls up on the sidewalk in front of the shop and delivers me into the waiting arms of the ladies who have run out of the shop and are pulling me off of the bike.

“You came back for boom boom!” they scream delightedly.

Just when I think things can’t possibly get worse, they do. From across the street I hear people shouting at me.

“Hey Jeff, what are you doing?” 

I look up and see EVERYONE from our group, except Stan, seated at a bar enjoying the sight of me desperately trying to explain to the bike driver and girls I don’t want boom boom. It’s all a big mistake.

The driver and the girls are not happy campers and the scene is rapidly getting ugly. I take the money I had in my pocket for the massage and throw it on the ground in front of the driver and the girls and try to beat a hasty retreat past my howling tour mates. That’s when the real Stretch arrives on his motorbike. 

The scene is now rapidly turning into a brawl as the real Stretch and the fake Stretch threaten each other with the orange girls cheering them on. Finally the real Stretch motions for me to get on the back of his bike and we take off to a combination of cheers and gales of laughter from the tour group.

Stretch’s masseur works out of a dark, dingy little bar on a side street. He’s the biggest Vietnamese guy I’ve ever seen. I’m a bit worried because I don’t see anywhere to lie down.  

“Where’s the bed?” I ask.

“No need bed,” he states with authority, and then proceeds to pick me up like a rag doll and toss me around like a wrestler. I’m being suspended upside down from his shoulders listening to my bones crunch when it suddenly occurs to me - I don’t have any money to pay this guy! I threw it all at the boom boom girls as a diversion to get away! 

From that moment on, I stop enjoying the massage and start wondering what kind of a human pretzel this guy is going to twist me into when he finds out I can’t pay him. Then I remember: I have five dollars stashed in the secret pocket of my jacket as emergency money. I’m saved!

When I return to the hotel I find Stan nursing a cup of green tea. 

“How was the massage?” he asks. 

“Nothing special,” I answer, as I limp up to my room. 

Add This