Monday, November 2, 2009

The Chinese Foot Massage

Awhile ago I took myself on a date in Arcadia. A friend had told me about her visit to Swan Spa on Baldwin Avenue. She cautioned me not to feel ill at ease when I entered a darkened narrow room lined with upholstered chairs, that this was where the treatment took place. The workers were gregarious, even though they spoke mainly Chinese and I all English. Immediately after they placed me in a chair and put my feet into a bucket of water, they gestured for me to move. It turns out the first 30 minutes of massage take place as you sit on an ottoman facing the chair. No disrobing! The masseuse practically assaults you, kneading, pummeling, and slapping you along the shoulders, back, buttocks, and arms. Just lean forward. In fact, it is the just about the most invigoration a stockstill person can experience. During the massage my anxiety gradually quelled and I started to appreciate what this $18 hour might accomplish.

After the back massage I was asked to sit again conventionally. The plasma TV blared steady coverage of local news in China. Now it was time to roll up my pants legs to knee level and get down to business. My masseuse tugged and pressed each toe. I asked him the correlation of toe to body part, and he replied succinctly, "Head." Or "Eye." Or "Ear." He massaged my feet and calves for a good twenty minutes. Another attendant brought me several cups of drinking water during the process. The treatment was bracing, almost utilitarian, but never fawning. I practically felt like marching to the cashier's desk with new resolution borne of improved circulation. My appointment lasted an hour.

On the way home, I decided to stop at SUSHIYA (sushi for less at 2525 E Foothill, #2, Pasadena). This modest cozy spot in a strip mall is indeed teeny, but it is economical. If you are by yourself, you don't have to feel like an odd duck sitting at the bustling counter. The sushi chef will lean right over into you and ask your choices, his tone staccato but good-natured. There is a full offering of sushi and sashimi, but the dish I liked best is the Jasmine Hand Wrap. The chef rapidly constructs a cone from a seeded Japanese tortilla, stuffs it with mild chopped salmon filling, and brandishes it from his hand to yours. It is one of the more expensive items, about $4.50, but it is a must. After all, dating yourself is grounds for a treat.

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