I’ve suddenly sprouted a bruise the size
of an angel’s wings fanning out from my spinal cord to my
shoulders. Though unlike an angel’s, my wings are not just
boring white; they span the spectrum of green, purple, and
I remember last time I got Chinese
therapy, I went back to the States only to have a lady
comment on the markings on my back with a pitiful whisper.
“Honey, do you get abused?”
She said it with such a shining-eyed
shocked look that I almost burst out laughing.
Yes. The bruises look like I’ve been
slashed some big ones right on the back, but they are the
products of meticulous healing rather than ruthless abuse.
I entered the spa sticky and smelling of
an afternoon’s worth of Beijing traffic. The cool and dry
air-conditioned rush greeted me as a smiling lady took off
my shoes and slipped soft slippers onto my feet.
She led me to a single suite complete
with soft music, spa bed, and shower room. Under the spray
of shower water, I used up all the expensive milk body wash
and almond flavored shampoo.
Finally refreshed, I lay nude on the spa
bed waiting for my treatment.
I was of course, expecting the usual
massage. A little push there, a little kneading there,
nothing out of the ordinary. Imagine my surprise when the
lady took out an object that looked like the back of a comb
and started scraping my back furiously.
At first, I gave a little jump, ready to
sprint out of the bed. Then she explained that it was a
Chinese medicine treatment that helped heal stress and pain.
Apparently, when the body hurts and turns
red, it means that there is the element ‘fire’ in the body.
Scraping with the special comb and oil helped release the
‘fire’ making the body heal from pain.
I thought, ha, what a joke! Of course
scraping the back will bruise, so everyone everywhere has
‘fire.’ But interestingly enough, only specific parts of my
body bruised up. The majority stayed normal despite the
masseuse’s meticulous work.
So after the fire-scraping, there was
some normal massaging, then, she pulled out a gun- looking
thing and planted a suction cup that raised the flesh on my
Without air, the cup grabbed at my flesh,
and she moved it along my back. It felt as if my skin was
about to be pulled off, but thank goodness it didn’t. This
treatment, again, is out to catch the ‘fire’ and release its
ruthless grasp on my body. Cup-sized red circles appeared on
my back like some new polka dot craze.
Despite the novel alternative treatments,
I hate to admit that I think it worked! The days before the
spa, I came down with a terrible cold and fever, and after
it, the next day after a night of restful sleep, I felt much
‘Fire’ or not, alternative spa proved to
be a very interesting experience. It’s one of those things
that if you believe it, it will miraculously work.