"Sir, the Masseuse is blind, is that ok?"
That's not me in the pic, just sayin
This question was asked of me over the phone, near to midnight, in a hotel room in Datong, Taipei City. It was after a super long day at the studio shooting a TV commercial and I needed to wind down and go to sleep fast. I called up hotel services to see if they had a massage service (which wasn’t a special-late-night-very-happy-time- kind of Taiwanese massage that you get offered on your way to 711 late at night.)
I just wanted a legit massage, to relax my stressed out body. They did offer this service and after arranging a time we were about to wrap up the phone call he asked if I’d prefer a man or a woman. Now I’ve already explained what kind of massage it wanted but I still didn’t want to get almost naked in my hotel room alone with a dude so yeah, of course a woman. Then as what seemed like an aside he quickly checked with me that I didn’t mind if the masseuse was blind. At this point my brain went into overdrive and for the next 2 seconds the conversation in my head went something like this:
“This is a disability - it would be wrong to discriminate against a masseuse for this reason.”
“Yes, but can she do the job without being able to see?”
“I guess so, once she get’s in and finds my body - we’re all set”
“I wonder if she has a cane, or just knows her way around the hotel really well. If so will she use the cane during the massage?”
“Wait she can’t see - what if she accidentally massages my junk - that could be awkward.”
“I wonder if she’s hot - I can’t have a hot girl accidentally massage my junk - I have a beautiful wife at home.”
“The chance she is hot, blind AND an accidental junk-massager is slim. It’s a risk that I’m willing to take.”
“Errrrrrmmmm,” I said to the hotel serviceman.
“Of course that’s ok, no problem at all.”
After a hot shower I just got into my robe when the doorbell chimed.
“Here’s my possibly hot, blind, but hopefully not so-blind-that-she-touches-me-inappropriately masseuse,” I thought.
I opened the door and there, filling the entire width of it’s frame, blocking out all hallway light, was a short and very overweight woman with a hunchback not dis-similar to that of the hunchback of Notre Dame, except not as sexy. Sure she was blind - no problem. Except (and sorry for being so blunt) but she was that ugly-blind. Her eyes were sunken back into her head and were a pasty mix of blue and grey. My muscles tensed up, thank god a masseuse was hunched before me ready to take me to a relaxed paradise.
I was in her country and didn’t speak Mandarin or Taiwanese and I’m ok with that. I could have called in my local production manager from across the hall, but how would that phone call have gone?
“Hi, a blind massager is here and I don’t speak Mandarin - I need to to translate “harder, softer, more oil, ouch that hurts, and don’t touch me there… Can you pop over? Yeah, I know what time it is? Hello? Hello?”
Not only didn’t I speak the appropriate language but she didn’t even give me a chance, she simply grunted and motioned at me to move inside the room. I realised I was blocking the door (but how did she know that?) Why was she grunting? Was she raised by wolves? Is she angry? Will she take it out on my un-clothed flesh?
I simply thought I’d lay down on the bed and see what happens. Sounds like wisdom right? That’s the kind of advise you just never give someone. “You know what, if you ever feel uncomfortable in your bedroom with a stranger, just lie down and go with it.” Well I did.
I interpreted her further grunting to mean take off your robe. Well when you ask like that, tah-dah, here I am! I realised, too late, that I could have worn multiple pairs of underpants for protection - she would never have known.
So there I was, it Taipei City, half naked on a bed, being covered in massage oil by a grunting blind hunchback who was kneeling beside me and bouncing on the bed like an excited panda. At least I can tick that off my bucket list right under “put a live scorpion in my chicken burrito and eat it in a hot air balloon.” Just when I somehow started to feel a little relaxed I thought, “how will she know when the hour is up? We could be here all night!” Just then her phone started ringing. She bounced of the bed and hobbled over to her phone. It was an old flip phone with a bright blue LED display. She held it up to her eyes and pushed it into her face so hard that I thought she’d be the first of us with a phone built into the brain. I realised she wasn’t 100% blind but blind enough that she needed to insert the phone into her eye socket to read the time.
She put out her hand and I realised she wanted cash. I handed it over, hoping that this wasn’t some scam where I’d be asked to pay on check-out and I would say I already paid the blind hunchback cash and didn’t get a receipt. Whereupon they would talk loudly in Mandarin until I handed over my Mastercard. She counted in a way that I thought she would paper cut her eyes off, grunted and left the room. Leaving me feeling a strange mix of relaxation, violation and confusion.
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PETE CAMPBELL is a Creative: Writer/Producer based from Australia, now based in LA. He has worked on projects for McDonalds, So You Think You Can Dance, Nikon, TEN, The Waratahs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Sydney Opera House, Bankwest, HP, Gumtree, Kijiji Taiwan and a stack more.