Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Touch and Go

A few days ago, Saffy woke up with a severe crick in her neck. She emerged from the bedroom with her head dangling backwards at such an unnatural angle that Amanda, coming out of the kitchen, dropped her bowl of cereal and screamed.
            “Her head was, like, it was just hanging by a nerve!” she later told everyone who would listen. “Her hair was all over the place and she was wearing that awful white night dress. Seriously, she looked like that terrible girl in ‘Sinister’!”
            “Oh, God, please stop screaming!” Saffy moaned. “I must have slept in a funny position because I can’t move my neck now! I need Song! Can someone call him and book me in? Please?”
            Song is our masseur. And when I say ‘our’, I mean ‘my’. Because I was the one who discovered him. Of course, if you want to be technical about it, it was my friend Peter who’d introduced him to me, but why go that far back?
            The man is a miracle worker. He was in his thirties when he started losing his sight. And when you’re that age and a physical disability is suddenly thrust upon you, there aren’t many career options to take.
But clearly, Song was made of sterner stuff, because he discovered he had a talent for therapeutic massage. I like to say he has magic fingers. If there’s a kink somewhere in your body, he’ll find it. Once, after kneading my temple, and without any prompting, he told me that I’d been having headaches.
I was astonished. “How did you know?”
“I got magic fingers!” he said with triumph.
Over the years, he’s sorted out all my lower back pain, shoulder aches, crooked necks, sore calves and knotted glutes.
            The first time I sent Saffy to Song, she was dubious.
            “Are you sure he’s really blind?” she demanded. Unspoken scenarios of perversion hung in the air. Or so I thought. “Because,” Saffy went on, “if he isn’t, then I’m going to have to wear my nice underwear.”
            Amanda’s eyes widened. “That’s what you’re concerned about?”
            “Well, I don’t want him to think I can’t afford nice knickers. So, if he really can’t see, then there’s no point me wasting Victoria’s Secret on him, is there?”
            She came back from her session glowing and with confirmation of Song’s lack of visual acuity. “Yep, he’s totally blind. He never once looked at my breasts. It’s such an odd feeling,” she said, looking a little perplexed at the sensation. “But more to the point, he’s amazing! Within two seconds, he’d located all the knots in my right shoulder! I love him!”
            Intrigued, Amanda made an appointment and schlepped all the way out to Song’s studio in Commonwealth. Later, she reported that she’d spent the whole hour screaming in pain.
            “But good pain, right?” Song asked as he used his elbow to dig into a nerve ending on Amanda’s left glute.
            “If you…say…so…Song!” Amanda gasped.
            “If got pain, that mean got problem!” Song announced happily.
            Of course, over the years, word of mouth has meant that he’s taken on more and more clients. So much so that where you could once just call for an appointment with a few hours notice, now, it’s like trying to get an audience with the Queen of England.
            “Hah? She want to come now, ah?” Song said when Amanda rang with Saffy’s SOS. “Cannot, lah! I got client now. Tomorrow evening, can?”
            Saffy’s shriek could be heard all the way in Penang. “Tomorrow evening? I can’t walk around like a muppet till tomorrow evening! Tell him I’m in pain! Here, give me the phone! Song, I’m in pain! I need you!”
            “Aiyoh!” Song said. “OK, OK, I see if I can shift my next client. I call you back!”
            And so we waited, Saffy, with her head still thrown back in a rictus of agony, Amanda flipping through Vogue, and me, thinking what I could have for dinner.
            “God, what will happen,” Saffy suddenly wondered, her voice directed to the back of the room, “when Song decides to retire? Or…if…if he gets his sight back?”
            Amanda hesitated. “Uhm. That will be bad thing because…?”
            “He might not be any good any more!” Saffy replied in a tone that seemed surprised that Amanda didn’t see the point.
            “Saf, he’s not the Hulk!”
            “You don’t know that!” Saffy said. “He could lose all his magical powers the minute he can see again.”
            From my corner of the couch, I piped up, “Maybe he’ll lose his sight again the minute he lays eyes on your fabulous breasts!”

            From the silent glow, you could tell that the thought pleased Saffy immensely.

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