“Free Packing”

dscf1917I have been getting more massages lately. I prefer Asian massage simply because of the delicacy with which Asian women handle the human body. There is a softness in their touch that sends the person being massaged into a state of relaxation that I would say is akin to bliss. Massage is not for everyone. I myself was adverse to massage until the later age of thirty two. As a younger man I was always embarrassed to lie down with nothing but a towel between me and a strange masseuse. Body aches eventually drove me to overcome my insecurities and I actually found that I enjoyed being massaged, while wearing nothing but a towel. For a while, I was getting massaged once a week and eventually I became a connoisseur of various massage parlors. I settled upon a particular massage studio in Berkeley that specializes in table showers and deep tissue rubdowns. There is nothing more enjoyable than being nude on a massage table, while a stranger rubs your achy body with a warm sponge filled with the aroma of lavender soap. I frequented this massage parlor more than once a week until I discovered a new Asian massage parlor in downtown Oakland that was offering “free packing.”

I almost think it is human nature to get bored. The curse of being human is that we are always looking for the next best thing, never content with what we have. This is why I search various periodicals for new massage parlors that I have yet to find out about. I am excited by the prospects of finding something better than what I currently have. On a weekly basis I search for new massage parlors without much luck- so when I found this one massage parlor that was advertising its “Grand Opening” with “free packing”- my interest was sparked. “What the hell is free packing?” I kept thinking to myself all that night. I thought about calling the massage parlor and asking them personally, but I felt embarrassed by my lack of knowledge. You see, I need to be someone who appears to be all knowing all the time. Just the idea of being perceived as someone who does not have all the answers- sends my body into a minor panic response. I simply need to seem like I know what is going on- and this is why I had to find out what “free packing” was all by myself.

I Googled free packing/massage but nothing came up other than websites for moving companies. I went onto various massage message board websites and searched for info on “free packing.” I even left an add on Craig’s list asking anyone who knew what”free packing” is to respond to my email. I had various people reply with suggestions. Some thought that “free packing” was a new form of prostate massage, others thought that free packing could have something to do with inserting things into my rear end. One person wrote that whatever “free packing” was- it sounded like it would make it difficult for me to walk out of the massage parlor on my own. Even though these suggestions sounded feasible to me- no one new for certain what “free packing” could be. I returned to my usual massage parlor and asked my masseuse if she would be willing to give me “free packing,” but she laughed at me and told me that she had no idea what I was talking about.

Yesterday, I finally decided to find out for myself. I ripped out a copy of the massage parlor add, which offered a “Grand Opening Special Of Free Packing And One Hour Massage For Half The Price.” Since I have been doing a lot of heavy lifting and packing lately I was excited to not only get a half priced one hour massage but to have the new and unknown experience of “free packing.” The massage parlor was not far from my home and it sat on the corner of a dark and not very busy city street. Over the door hung a sign that said GRAND OPENING and in the window was a red neon sign that let potential costumers know that they were open for business. I put some cologne on under my arms since I had forgotten to apply deodorant and went into the massage parlor with the fake confidence of a man that appears to know exactly what he is doing.

A buzzer let me in through a gated door, which led me into the lobby of the massage parlor. Various Asian ladies sat scantily dressed on a red couch that sat in front of a big screen TV. They all watched me as I walked towards a man who sat behind a large mahogany desk. “You want thirty minute massage?” he yelled at me while I was still far away. I looked around at the Asian masseuses who sat staring at me from the couch and I noticed that they were all much more attractive than I had expected. “I would actually like what you advertised for your grand opening special,” I replied. “Oh… you want half off, hour massage?” the man said to me with a look of disappointment. I suppose he was hoping that I had not seen the add. “Okay we give you hour for thirty minute price, this our special recession price for you.” Just before it looked as if he was going to call over one of his girls, I said “I would also like to try the free packing.” Everything went silent for a moment and he looked at me with a glare that seemed to say, what the fuck are you talking about. He asked- “what you mean free packing?” I was confused. “What do you mean what do I mean free packing?” I said- returning the question with a statement so as to hide my not knowing. I pulled the advertisement out from my pocket and put it on his desk. “You see right there you are advertising free packing and I would like to have it,” I said with the confidence of a man who knows what he wants. I was dead serious but the man started laughing as he read the add. He said something in Vietnamese to all of the girls sitting on the couch, which then sent them into a fit of laughter. He held up the add and they laughed some more. What the hell? I thought. I had not a clue that I was the one that failed to detect one simple error- until the man looked at me with a smile, lit a cigarette and said…”sorry sir…..this is mistake….. because add supposed to say….. free parking….. which we have for you in back.”


  1. The thing is, there is this hidden density. You know what it makes me think. Noel Coward. I know its a perfect fit but that’s the feeling. Correct me if I am drunkenly wrong, sir.

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