I’d been tempted for years – now my plan was hatched.
Downtown Siem Reap. The colour of the markets, the hustle and thrum of the traffic. The incredible smells from sizzling fresh dishes being flame cooked. And, er…those fish massage places. How many are there? Half a dozen?
I’ve never been tempted to dip my toes in the water tanks. Part of that is just a hygiene thing – do you want to soak your feet in the same water as the previous guy with the fungal problem? But part of that is a private shame of mine: my right foot has two missing toes, and for 30 years since the ‘deep pedicure’ incident I’ve either tried to hide my foot or make light of it. I love trying on shoes because the assistants always squeeze the right shoe in just the right spot and…and there’s nothing there! The shoe sales staff look plainly confused – the shoe seemed to be the right size. It gets me each time.
But over the years I’ve been tempted by the presence of the foot massage places to try a practical joke. The other week I was in the mood. I’d been approached by the foot massage people: “Fish massage sir?” three times today already, and I thought it was time to exorcise my fears.
As I strolled past a fourth fish massage place the young woman came up with a menu in hand: “Fish massage sir?”
I feigned being aghast, and explained that after ‘last time’ I would never have another fish massage. “Do you know what happened?” I asked. I now had an audience, a couple of would-be customers, the young woman and now her concerned colleague, as well as a group of Australians who were already sitting by the fish tank – delightedly getting their toes nibbled.
“Look, I’ll show you what happened,” I said, taking off my right shoe and rolling down a dusty sock to reveal….THE FOOT FROM HELL! The sales assistant guy flinched, the would-be customers recoiled and the Australians shrieked with laughter.
But here’s the thing: the young sales woman was unflappable. She looked me straight in the eye and said: “How about try again? We’ll give you half price.”
She looked concerned, but a sale is a sale. She had me there.
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