The Gift of Pain and Torture

My husband Gary had the brilliant idea of getting massages after our three-day road trip. We both needed it badly.

Except Gary had heard about a place in Houston’s Chinatown. (our Bellaire Chinatown is  GI-NORMOUS in size and approximates the size of San Francisco’s Chinatown)

It was a place called the Pain Relief Center. They did a Chinese massage and foot reflexology – for the bargain price of $20 an hour.

We walked out  and then referred to it as the PAIN CENTER however.

Doesn’t everyone want to pay for an hour of pain and torture?

Walking in we saw an Asian sweatshop. There were 12 reclining chairs with people in them getting a massage. The place was packed so the workers went from victim (um, client) to victim, without a break. My husband thought this was a good sign, because only the “best places” would be packed with a crowd.

It was soon my turn and I got a very nice smiling, burly Asian man who proceeded to inflict torture in every manner possible on me for the next hour.

They laid me down on the recliner, and put a dry washcloth over my face, and my feet in a bowl of warm water. I found out later why they put the washcloth over my face.

It started out nicely enough with a head massage, gentle pressure on the forehead, and between the brows along with some knocks on the head. Then the ear pinching began which is where the excruciating pain began. His squeezes on my ear cartilage were a bit too aggressive and they stung afterward. He worked on my shoulders and arms, flinging them up and backward in a rough way. OUCH.

The upper legs and torso went okay, but then he got to my feet. Now perhaps the pain I felt was payback for all the years of torture I put my tootsies through with too tight, too pointy shoes or dancing in heals till 1 am at functions like weddings.

First he applied tremendous pressure to every vein in my lower leg. I don’t know if my energy was blocked there, but the pain was similar to childbirth where the pressure was unbearably excruciating.

All the back, neck and shoulder work he had done previously went out the window, as I tensed up and drew back in an arch to withstand the pain. In fact I was grimacing in pain so hard, that tiny tears formed in the corner of my eyes. It is a good thing that washcloth was blocking my face because it didn’t look pretty for the other customers to see. Only out of Asian politeness did I not scream out in pain. I was internally writhing and screaming however.

Next came the feet. I never even knew the foot contained as many pressure points that had to be poked, pinches, and punched into submission. It was Chinese foot torture. I was ready to give away valuable state secrets if the smiling Asian man would stop applying so much painful pressure. I drew my foot back and arched up again.

Apparently the Asian guy couldn’t take a hint because the right foot was as painful as the left. He finished with a flourish by pulling each toe completely out of its socket.

When all of this was finished, I was sore and spent, but he led me to a back room to lay on a regular massage table to get the back massage.

Let’s put it this way – the guy enjoyed massaging my butt crack as he repeatedly went back to that area, but he was totally serious about getting every nook and cranny massaged if you catch my drift.

Finally, when all of the other indignities were complete, the guy SAT on my butt on both of his knees and pulled me up backward like a horse (from my shoulders) to where I arched my back way beyond what an experienced yogi could do comfortably. He did this twice and let me flop back down to the table.

He ended with hard punches to my butt,.legs, back, and a few knocks on my head and said, “You are finished.”

He handed me a bottle of water and smiled at me waiting for a tip.

I left the place really, really sore. Later in the evening, I felt like I went 10 rounds with Rocky Balboa. I was really beat up. Or perhaps one feels like this after a tough wrestling bout.

This was my gift for the seventh night of Chanukah. The gift of pain. I should be able to stand upright and walk in a few days.



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  • Ronald Boyce Walker

    I”m surprised at your physical reaction to this type of massage. I had this done once in Calif. and, while it was – as you noted – very painful, within a half hour I was so limber I was able to walk, stoop and move around as if I were 25 years old again! Too bad it only lasted a couple days. Hope your next massage goes better!

  • This sounds awful! I only really like foot and hand massage..being face down for a back rub leaves me a little dizzy and nauseated. But this sounded like the exact opposite of what you needed after a three day road trip. Was this the first time you’ve actually driven from Houston to the east coast?

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