Jack and I took all three girls to the mall to meet up with my sisters-in-law. Rembot and Sharky in the double stroller, and Minnie strapped to my chest in the carrier. On the agenda? Playing in the kiddie play area, taking a few rides in a firetruck that lights up and moves back and forth if I feed it enough quarters, dinner in the food court where Sharky was all FRENCH FRIES ALL DAY EVERY DAY, BABY, and a healthy amount of window shopping.
And then we got hustled.
During any one of my infrequent trips to the mall, I avoid center-aisle kiosks and large groups of tweens like I avoid taxes and the Department of Motor Vehicles. These kiosk owners are generally on the aggressive side, and nothing ruins a good shopping trip like getting accosted at the mall.
“Check out our kitchen cabinets!”
“Here, let me flat iron your hair!”
“I’m going to rub this lotion into your hands whether you like it or not!”
“Have your daughters ever thought about modeling?”
“Step right up for a complimentary gyn exam!”
Just kidding on that last one. I have my guard up, and respond with a friendly smile and a “No, thank you, but have a great day!” as I walk past. That’s usually good enough to thwart a second try. At least I’m nice, right?
Anyway, we were walking along, and we were approached by two Asian men offering us massages.
Jack: You can’t say “Asian!”
Roo: But they are Asian.
Jack: You can’t say that!
Roo: Why are you whispering?
They had those kneel-y massage chairs out. You know, you sit, and your face goes in that cushy face-hole pillow. There were bamboo plants and several people dressed in white available to massage the weary shopper. They offered us a two-minute “sample” and suddenly Jack was pushing me towards the chair.
“Go ahead. Weren’t you saying your back hurt?” I sat down, and Jack’s sister Marie settled into a chair.
The gentleman of no discernible ethnic background (seriously, is that better?) started rubbing my shoulders. And immediately found a knot. And another knot. And then one more.
“You need this. She NEEDS this,” he emphatically told Jack. “Ten minutes. Twelve dollars.” And I was all ready to say, “Nah, let’s move on, let’s go,” but somehow we all started haggling. I interjected here and there with an idea or two, but because my face was in cushy face-hole pillow, I could really only hear and not participate.
“Ten minutes for her and ten minutes for her for twenty dollars.”
“Fifteen and fifteen for thirty!”
“Fifteen and fifteen and a bamboo plant for thirty!”
I’m not really sure what was going on, but Marie was sold and said, “Go. Just go. Yes. Rub me.” I settled back in and let the masseuse do his work. Big ups to Marie for giving him the go-ahead.
At one point he moved from my back to massaging my arms and then my hands and then my fingers, and I was all Listen, homeboy, if I only have fifteen minutes, I don’t want to spend five of them thumb wrestling you. So, I popped my head up and politely asked if he could focus on my lower back.
Apparently “Please rub my lower back” also means “Please massage my butt for the next seven minutes.” Don’t get me wrong, he totally got the knots out out of my back, but I could actually hear Jack chuckling as the guy dug his knuckles into my right cheek.
I sat and relaxed as a remote-control helicopter buzzed overhead from the kiosk ten feet away and the scent of body spray and spandex wafted over from Victoria’s Secret. Would I prefer to have my massages lying supine between soft sheets with no one talking and lots of aromatherapy? Sure, sure. But sniffing out an elevator of high school girls is cool, too.
Towards the end the kind Asian man (ROO YOU CAN’T SAY THAT) tried to offer us another ten minutes each, but we declined again.. and again.. and then one more time. They’re kind of pushy. Salesman pushy and knuckles into your backside pushy.
But if I’m going to get hustled by a kiosk, better it’s for a backrub and not for, say, an Angry Birds t-shirt or neon hair extensions, right?