The traditions are dead. Long live the traditions!
The Math Teacher
She was just one of those things that you looked forward to. Just a fairly non-descript young Chinese woman, with a fairly non-descript little Chinese figure, and the usual and typical fairly non-descript semi-long black Chinese hair, all configured fairly nicely, with the fairly common young Chinese female face.
But she had a smile that melted even my jaded old burnt out heart.
And she was just one of those things, that I really looked forward to, on my trips to Shaolin.
For I knew that it would never go anywhere, for her rather small understanding of English was no match for my even smaller understanding of Chinese. But, we would sit together, and look at pictures, or, words in books that neither of us really understood, or, I would teach her few, soon to be forgotten words of English, and she would do the same with Chinese, and, well, it just never really mattered. For, she would look at me, with that slight twinkle in her left eye, that I knew was only reserved for me, and she would smile. And even though it was well understood between the both of us, that absolutely nothing was going to come of this horribly small long distance relationship, she knew that I just melted from that big New York tough guy, into something resembling slightly more like a young lost blithering child.
And it was good.
Oh, what a tradition. Travel thousands of miles, train with the monks, and engage in this fanciful go nowhere love affair with a young woman who would never be mine. But, it was tradition. Get off the plane, unpack, go to Shi De Cheng's school, make imaginary eye love with a woman I couldn't speak to. It was tradition, a doc tradition, and I did it almost every time I came here.
But, no more. For the math teacher got married, and we never saw her again.
Married a bus driver. What a way to go. So much for that tradition.
I'll never forget the day I first ran into PS. After enduring the Shaolin wushu guan for many years, I was brought to the FengYuan hotel, in nearby Dengfeng, to reside in, about the time Yongxin was antagonizing the martial monks. Decheng and Xinghong had opened schools in Dengfeng, so, it made more sense for me to stay there. The FengYuan is the nicest hotel in town, and, because Xinghong's manager knew the FengYuan manager well, I was, well, taken care of. In more ways than one.
The hair parlor on the first floor is home to many a young Chinese girl, some of whom pretend to be knowledgeable about cutting hair, the others, pretend to be knowledgeable about giving massage. Few really know how to give a massage, and a few are downright hookers. But, no matter, it soon became my home away from home away from home (as Shi Yong Qiang tends to refer to the Shaolin area as my home away from home, I'm here so damn much it seems), and I tended to spend every evening, in the hair/massage parlor. It was actually quite the fun place, for, you find these older, and horribly out of shape, Chinese men, that go in to get their presumably, horribly smelly feet massaged, among other things. It's pretty uncommon for a rather large and rather healthy American to wander these environs, and, because of that, I get a lot of attention. Usually one girl takes one customer, or, at least, that's the way it's supposed to work. I sometimes get two, or, occasionally, three. Sometimes a gang of them will come in and watch, as one rubs away, the others just stand there and gawk, or giggle. There's been some nights where I've been the subject of "tag team massage", where, one would get tired, bow out, and watch as another took her place. Sometimes, two would attack me at once. At one time, I had three of them, two standing on my back, and one standing on my legs, with about five others watching, all dancing to some Chinese tune that they were humming. Needless to say, that was one hell of a massage. Yes, over the visits, I've been rubbed by quite the variety of young Chinese girl; few I"ve gotten a little attached to, as they have to me. But, there just never was a one like Purple Snow.
I walked in one evening, actually, it was during DocTour 2001, and I was with some of the members of the group. Kevin and Mark had wanted massage also, so, we went together. Almost hiding, in the deep recesses of the crowd of young girls who worked there, was a rather attractive Chinese girl, with hair down to her waist. Had this rather innocent look that I'm quite fond of. So, in my usual fashion, I went up to her, and pointed directly at her, as she stood, quite horrified, with eyes, suddenly rounded with fear and amazement. "I want you". And that was that.
She had never given a massage before. And, in fact, she didn't even work there. Her sister managed the place, and, she was just visiting. All this had been explained to me, with Yong doing the translating, but, I didn't care. I looked at her, and motioned to have her follow me into my favorite dark little room. She was appalled. She didn't know how to give a massage, I was told; why don't I just take one of these other girls. Nope, I wanted her. And, after grabbing her hand, it was off we went. I had shocked yet another little Chinese woman. I was having fun. There's nothing quite like my terrorizing the local inhabitants.
It turned out to be one of those horribly hysterical moments of my life. For, before entering the little massage room, I had assigned one of the better massage girls to Mark, who took the other bed in my room, and, I had hooked up Kevin, who was married to an attorney back in Las Vegas, with one of the sluttier whores. She was the one who carried a backpack with a big pink bunny emblazoned on the back. I remember pointing to it, and mentioning it as a "bunny".
She grabbed hold of the english quite well, for all during Kevin's massage, Mark and I could hear, on top of the beatings and Kevin's groans, this slutty little massage girl slap Kevin here, and pull Kevin there, all the while yelling out loud, "fuck bunnies".
An hour of a groaning Kevin, and exclamations from Kevin's little Chinese masseuse, in horribly broken English, of "fuck bunnies", was quite the experience.
But it was PS who stole the night. For Mark was getting massaged, by his little professional masseuse, right next to my aluminum cot, which I thought, at any minute, I would crush and tumble to the floor. PS really didn't have any idea as to what she was doing, so, she basically watched the massage Mark was getting, and, she would mimic it. Granted, it was a fairly shitty massage, but, I was enjoying it. It became downright hysterical when Mark had been turned on his stomach, for the back flexing maneuver.
What they do, is make you lie on your stomach, and put your arms behind your back. The girl then gets up on top of this rickety little bed that you lie on, and, kneeling over you, at your feet, grabs your hands, and pulls, so that your back arches, and that your face, head and shoulders leave the bed. Mark's little girl had him up and almost bent in half; I, on the other hand, felt this tugging at my hands. I didn't move.
Mark, pulled halfway up off his bed, and I, lying flat and motionless on mine, happened to turn around at the same time.Maybe it was the grunting and groaning that we heard behind us, grunting and groaning which sounded much more painful than what we heard coming from Kevin's room. Whatever it was, we both looked back, and saw PS, now, on the first massage of her life, trying to make an impression and keep up with the big girls, was standing on the bed above me, frantically pulling at both of my arms, in a desperate attempt to pull my shoulders up off the bed, with feet sliding on the mattress, and sweat virtually pouring off her horribly reddened and strained face. "fuck bunnies" came from the other room, and, at that moment, PS's feet gave out from under her, and down she went, falling first on the back of my legs, and then, partly to the floor.
Screams of "fuck fuck bunnies!" came from Kevin's room, as he groaned in pain yet again. Mark's and my massages were over. We were laughing way too hard to do anything else.
It was the beginning of a tradition. PS started massaging me every night, and, eventually, because I couldn't stand the cigarette smoke that filled the air in the hair parlor, and, probably for other reasons known only to PS, we moved my massages to my room. Eventually, she "moved in", and my nightly massages turned into all night events. Yes, most definitely a good tradition, for, one just cannot beat the life of waking up in the morning next to some young cute thing with much more hair than I, eat a few chocolate chip cookies to start the day, work out all morning and afternoon, and get back to your room, for a two hour massage/back scratch, and wonderful cuddly dreams.
What a way to train.
And what a relationship.
She was attractive, even for a northern Chinese woman. With long, long healthy hair, which, if you haven't figured out yet, absolutely drives me nuts, and a cute little smile framed by a rather attractive face, she was very pleasing to look at. And what a disposition, always there to take care of me, always there to look out for me, always washing my clothes in the bathtub on a daily basis. And when she yelled at me, for something that I just didn't do, as usual of course, I could just stand there and laugh at her, because, when she got angry, it just amused the hell out of me. Then, as the frustration mounted, her face would get red, and her eyes and mouth would curl up into that same position she first had when she struggled to arch my back on that massage table. And I would think, "fuck bunnies", and laugh out loud, sometimes, really, really hard.
It annoyed the fuck out of her. It amused the hell out of me. Out of the well over a hundred women that I have dated in my life, this was truly a perfect relationship, the most perfect, enjoyable relationship I have ever, ever had. The absolute, most joyous, best. It was a match made in glorious heaven, and I, in a rare moment, was happy.
It had really helped that she couldn't speak a word of English.
But relationships. like traditions, are meant to end, and end they must. PS met me at the airport this trip, and spent some time with me in Beijing, but, because of a supposedly ill sister (she burnt her foot with hot water, I wonder if her name is "Yellow..."), we didn't get too spend much time together. She hasn't been able to come to Shaolin to stay with me, but, no doubt, if she does, she'll take a bus. Like she always does. Always taking the bus, where ever she goes. A bus.
Damn bus drivers.
Traditions end, traditions begin
It was the beginning of my routine afternoon eight mile brisk hike. The same one I do at 7AM, every morning, before I start training. I can't run anymore, the blown discs in my neck preclude that. But, after getting up at 5:30 AM, and having a small breakfast, with some email checking, my hike begins, my workouts begin, my hike begins again, and the evening, sans PS, is spent on learning Dreamweaver, and wondering when my next massage was going to be. My Shaolin experience this time has been empty, for lack of young female hands that wander about my body.
She was young, and very cute, and for some reason, on my way down the stairs, she stopped me, all, oh, eighty pounds of her, by standing in front of me. And, she started yelling at me in Chinese. Since I didn't know her, I decided not to laugh, so, I just kind of looked at her, with that "what the ••••" funny look that I'm so good at. It soon became clear that she had worked in the massage/hair parlor, and that she wanted to give me a massage that night. Never got approached like that before, so, I agreed. I told her I'd be back. And off I went for my walk.
Epilogue: A new beginning
Oh the traditions. How they end. Got lots more to write about, but, it will have to wait. Got a pair of young fresh female hands downstairs waiting to explore old doc's environs. Time to get into trouble. Trouble as only I can get into. Doc trouble.