Don

Friends! Was going to post a bunch of interesting photos today from one of my new favorite cities, Bangkok. I’ll post those in a day or two. For now, sit back and enjoy the Story of Don…

Ever had so much pain you nearly passed out? I think we’ve all suffered our fair share.

After two broken wrists, a broken collarbone, a severely sprained ankle worse than a break, two cancer-related surgeries and, since November, a hernia surgery and cyst removal from neck, I’ve had my share.

Of course, I’ve been priding myself on having a special amount of pain tolerance since entering the marathoning world in ’09. Some of the most serious pain since then has been during sports massages, in particular those from a huge male masseuse in Kenya and a huge Chinese guy on the Upper East Side of Manhattan–who also propositioned me by asking, “do you know the house call?”

One thing I’ve learned in my first two days in Thailand: Thai massages inflict pain; brutal, relentless, dagger stabbing PAIN. 

The therapists at the ultra-exclusive, massive Health Land are particular masters in the art of masochism. Yesterday, I spent about $16 for a nice Thai lady to give me a 2 hour long Thai Massage. It was brutal at times but also had its tender moments: my body slumped back in her lap as she massaged my head (which also was not a pain-free experience).

These masseuses put heart and soul into this work.

Today, I paid a nice, slender young man named Don about $10 to inflict what became, within the first 10 seconds and with zero warning–niceties like that don’t seem to exist here–perhaps the single most pain-filled hour of my life. Entire life. 

Don made it all so effortless, using his elbows and thumbs to knife through my right hip area. Damn this tightness-strain in my gluteal minimus/medius area. 

It was, with no exaggeration, excruciating. Mind you, it was exactly what the doctor ordered, yet that did not stop me from pulling away about five different times. For the first time of any massage EVER, I literally asked him to stop two different times.

I nearly passed out. I began biting hard onto the pillow. I chucked out a few cuss words, NYC-style.

I cast off my ego faster than a Ladyboy on Soi Cowboy here can convince you she’s a beautiful woman.

Screw it. I don’t care. Just let it end. Eventually, I was trying to distract Don: “Oh, can you show me a new stretch?”

“When massage is over,” the torturer responded, clearly delighting in his total power over me. Or, that of a single thumb. 

I have to say, though, he did his job and did it splendidly. I clearly requested a therapeutic massage and he exerted more supreme effort than any American therapist ever has for me in a sports-related massage.

Don–all buck forty or so of him–Strongest Man in the World!

[sorry if picture didn’t load; having difficulties with loading images from here]

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