Come Friday night, we were both dealing with head colds, too, me recovering and her succumbing. She was determined, however, and loaded up on the good medications to ensure an evening of fun. And when the time came to leave the kids to the tender mercies of the Niece for the evening, I found out what she had planned for us:
"Couple's massage," she grunted. "Ninety minutes. I booked you a chick, and I got a dude."
"Therapeutic," she said with a roll of her eyes.
"Oh. Sorry, just thought there might be a Happy Ending in it for me."
She gave me a knowing glance. "I didn't say that was out of the question. But not from your therapist."
"I'm not picky," I protested. "But . . . I hate to ask, but . . . can we . . . ?"
"Afford it?" she asked. "Flex card. It's a deductible health expense. But I'd pay out of pocket -- my whole body aches. And I figured you'd appreciate a strange woman's hands all over you."
"You know me so well," I chuckled, nibbling on her ear. The truth is, Mrs. I gives a pretty decent massage, but her short and stubby fingers give out all too quickly for my taste. 90 minutes of tactile heaven sounded exquisite. I had my own share of post-40, post-head cold body aches to contend with. And the prospect of a homegrown Happy Ending certainly added to the allure of the date.
If you aren't already familiar with the concept of the "Happy Ending", which has managed to insinuate itself into adult popular culture pretty thoroughly, then let me enlighten you. It's a sexual artifact from the USA's East Asian adventures, particularly those involving Japan, China, Korea, Viet Nam and the Phillipines.
Not many people appreciate the cultural impact of our imperial past in that part of the globe, not beyond a few memorable battles. But from WW II on, the number of Americans who came in direct contact with East Asian culture rose dramatically from the pre-1940 trickle. Before Pearl Harbor "the Orient" was a vague and exotic caricature of itself in the minds of most Americans, represented by a few scattered Chinatowns in major urban areas on the coasts. By the time I was born in 1968, millions of Americans had gone to the East, been influenced by its culture, and returned to America with a greater understanding and appreciation for the culture.
That influenced mainstream American culture in some interesting ways -- from the inspiration the Beat poets took from Taoism to the importation of Eastern-style martial arts to the consideration of Zen and Buddhism in terms of the Abrahamic faiths (not to mention the influx of transistor radios, cheap manufactured goods, and pragmatic Marxism), the East Asian cultures had an effect on most areas of American culture. But they also had an effect on the sex life of Americans, whether we realized it or not.
Massage has a several thousand year history in the East, particularly in China, where the practice was associated with Taoist alchemy and body magic. That's the tradition that produced both Chinese herbal medicine and acupuncture, both of which can be as effective as Western medicine in some venues (and a hell of a lot cheaper). The use of accupuncture and accupressure combined with the role of the Asian courtesan at some point in China's ancient past, and since then the use of massage for both medicinal and recreational purposes has become a fundamental aspect of Asian culture. A courtesan who could not give a decent massage was useless -- it became as important a part of their training as sexuality and cosmetics.
Traditionally this was a manual release, sometimes an oral release, but rarely before the advent of reliable birth control was this full-blown intercourse (unless you were willing to pay for such a service). And it was a regular part of the massage -- to this day a Thai massage includes this, although the price is often jacked up for Western sex tourists, from what I understand. Still, a 90-minute massage followed by an expertly-given handjob for 900 baht has got to be a bargain, compared to Vegas prices.
This tradition of massage came to America largely fueled by the Triads, Chinese criminal organizations some of which trace their history to before the Norman Conquest. When the East Asian flood of immigrants began in earnest, among the Chinese restaurants and sushi bars were parlors advertising "traditional Asian massage" . . . including the Happy Ending.
Now, from an Asian perspective a casual handjob is not, strictly-speaking, infidelity, it's health care. But from a Western perspective it's clearly prostitution. In fact, for many municipalities the "Asian Massage Parlour" is often the only open venue for prostitution of this very limited type. It surprises some people, particularly in the conservative South and West, how such places can stay open despite the profound local displeasure at their presence. Let's just say that after over 5000 years in business, the Triads have learned a thing or two about good local relations with law-enforcement and community leaders.
Something else you should consider, ladies, is that this is probably the absolutely most common type of prostitution out there today, and there are plenty of married men who indulge in it. I'm not condoning the practice -- just mentioning a fact. But if you read my GFE post and you took something away from it, then consider that thousands of men across the country are regularly willing to risk their marriages, families, and possibly their careers for a fifteen-minute handy by a disinterested Asian chick. Therefore there is a certain sexual allure to the practice, one which you may choose to capitalize upon.
Some of you may prove reluctant, either disparaging the handjob as a premarital (and possibly pre-sexual)
stopgap measure, or as what you did with that cute boy you liked in college but didn't quite like THAT much. A lot of wives have dismissed the handjob in favor of far more elaborate and ostensibly rewarding pursuits.
(The other major sexual import the East can claim credit for? The American fascination with fellatio. Before 1940 it was more or less regulated to the seediest, tawdriest prostitutes -- no respectable wife and mother would ever stoop to such depravity. But after WWII, when hundreds of thousands of returning GIs came home freshly-cured from the clap and well-experienced with the blowjob parlors of Occupied Japan and Okinawa, not to mention the brothel superstores of Viet Nam and Korea, their expectations had shifted. By 1960 fellatio was just barely kinky. By 1970 it was pretty much expected as a special treat in marriage. By 1980 it was de riguer, and by 1990's advent of hook-up culture, it had become almost as casual as a handshake. Thanks, Asia!)
(Who am I kidding? The Triads will accept pretty much anything.)
The massage itself was wonderful, and I tipped my therapist lavishly. Afterwards we hit the sushi bar across the street for a little saki and some unagi, talked, enjoyed ourselves, and had an excellent date. Then we went home for my Happy Ending. As the details would be of interest only to the aficionado and the lecherous, I'll spare you, but they did involve a hammock. You can fill in the rest from there.
In any case, the couple's massage was an outstanding date, completely unanticipated and thoroughly enjoyed. It was also something I probably wouldn't have set up on my own because I tend to be more food-oriented in my dates. But I can't argue against the intense Alpha feelings brought on by having a woman knead your flesh and rub you (almost) all over. And Mrs. I certainly didn't suffer at the hands of her strapping young man. Afterwards we had the physical exhilaration of getting a solid rub-down by a knowledgeable stranger, and enough pent-up pressure and lust going on to make the evening . . . climactic.
So if you're a wife who tried the GFE to any effect, consider pulling this bit of Girl Game on your husband. Or suggest in an off-hand way that he give YOU a Happy Ending -- no doubt he could use the practice. You'll find the feelings of decadent attention delightful, while he will likely appreciate the sensitive appreciation of his body. Afterwards, get a bottle of sweet-smelling lotion and continue the rub-down at home, if you have any energy left. And if you can manage a hammock . . . well, I'm sure you can figure it out from there.