I'm lying on the balcony room bed with the fan blowing on me, but not because it's hot. I was just telling Katherine that I felt cold on my way home from the gym tonight. I could have used a jacket. It's been a cool fall - or perhaps I am just acclimating to this climate. But I think it's a cool fall.
I am lying here waiting for our castle massage therapist to arrive. This will be Tran's (pronounced something like "Chung's") fourth castle visit since our return this cool fall. Remember how distraught we were last year when she left the Bum Bum? K and I were inconsolable. But now she comes to us regularly. We discovered that it was Tran's decision to leave the shop; evidently, she was bored. Her friend there, Chin, told us that Tran wants to make money all around the city instead of being in a salon all day long.
K and I both knew she was special since the beginning...that's why we counted her as our blessing all year and kept saying that she had to be too good to be true. When we got massages at the Bum Bum, we paid between 30 and 50,000 VND - between $1.80 and $3 - depending on the room location (was it noisy and light? or dark and solitary? the answer to that was about a $1.20 difference in price), and who knows how much of a cut Tran was getting out of that. For castle visits, K and I pay her 150,000 VND - about $9 - for massages that last an hour and a half (Katherine's usually last longer because Tran loves her most, I'm afraid). So she makes $18 in one night - a great wage for her. She is shy about receiving this much money, too; she usually tries to hand some of it back. She defines "unassuming person." We really love her.
Every time she leaves, I start plotting for her future. I usually say things like, "Let's start a business for her, she can come here and massage all of our friends and she'll make way more money than she could anywhere else." Or "I want to put Tran through massage school" - not for technique purposes but just because she is that good. K always answers my plotting with "You just don't stop with her, do you? You just can't help yourself."
She is a little bit difficult to communicate with, though. Take, for example, this text K got from her yesterday in our attempt to schedule an appointment:
“No froblem, 13 Tuesday tran buzz! See you 14 ok?”
K's email to me to communicate this was: So she can’t come tonight cause she’s buzzing, do you want me to tell her to come for you tomorrow night?
But when the 90 minutes is properly scheduled and carried out, usually one of us will say to the other:
Our lives are so cool.
I got a little lost on my way home tonight. Traffic was bad following a rain storm, so I took some back streets. It was the coolest kind of lost because I ended up in what must be "Little Singapore." I saw a packed restaurant called "Singapore Hainamese Chicken Rice," and to me, a packed restaurant screams "stop your motorbike and try me now!" So I did. Yum. Except I didn't get the chicken, I got the char siu (barbecued pork) on rice with a mystery side sauce that was heaven - for about $1.20. I keep accumulating restaurants that I want to visit once per week. How can I attain this goal?
Today I had my (total) 43 students write blues lyrics to the tune of BB King's "The Thrill is Gone" from the perspective of a down-and-out character in our current novel. Not one of them thought it was stupid to get up, sway and snap to the music, or sing the lyrics crazily. In every class a few of them used their tennis rackets as air guitars and they passed my sun glasses as they shared the lead singer role. Not only did they not think it was stupid, they thought it was cool.
Post massage now. I fell asleep about an hour in and reached that "other dimension" place. We asked Tran if she can come every Monday night from now until forever. She said yes. Cool.