CULTURE, 07/19/02: CULTURAL EXCHANGE A hand
job. I figured that would be safe enough. I could, I guessed, bring some
hand sanitizer and ask the woman to use it if she looked dirty. But, all
in all, I figured I couldn’t catch anything from a hand job. I had
never heard of anyone getting a venereal disease from receiving a hand
job. I had once heard of a guy getting his shaft bent the wrong way (this
was the first I’d heard there was in fact a wrong way) and it broke
and he had to go to the hospital. But I figured these women were small
and probably wouldn’t be capable of breaking it. Besides, they were
professionals. Yep, a hand job, I had decided, most definitely a hand
We had been
in Saigon for a good five days before I finally talked myself into going
through with it. I had asked around about it. My first night there, I
had met a nice fellow, an American, who had moved to Vietnam. He had been
over there for the war (he was a sniper with 42 confirmed kills) and was
now security for a madam. I asked him how much a girl would charge for
a hand job. He wasn’t sure, but was pretty sure that I’d have
to explain to the prostitute what a hand job consisted of. Most girls
were just used to giving blow jobs. “Why don’t you just get
a blow job?” he asked me. “They’re only like ten bucks,
No, I had
decided on a hand job.
night, I found out that I was dry-humping in the wrong direction. A guy
from my ship told me that he went to get a massage, just a regular massage,
and at the end, the woman, (who of which, he mentioned, was very attractive)
pointed to his crotch and said, “Massage?”
told me this, he took a long swig of his Tiger beer. “So,”
I said. “Did you do it?”
crazy?” he said. “Do I look like a guy who has to pay for
to say that he did, but I didn’t. Throughout the next few days,
I heard many of the same stories. Some guys admitted to it, some guys
didn’t. The consensus was that it was about five dollars extra on
top of an original ten for the massage.
on the fifth day, our last full day in port, I decided it was do or die.
I was going to go through with the hand job. My friend, Eric, was with
me. We had both seen Full Metal Jacket too many times to come home from
Vietnam without paying for some kind of sexual favor.
So, we hailed
rickshaws (the Vietnamese version of taxis) and told them, massage. However,
we didn’t say ‘massage’ like one says, ‘take me
to the grocery store.’ When we said it, we raised our voices like
we were telling them an inside joke. And we raised our eyebrows. Then
we let out little laughs like we were laughing at the inside joke. We
were about two seconds away from socking each other in the shoulder like
a couple of high-school jocks in the locker room, when the rickshaw drivers
both raised their eyebrows and went “Ahhhh,” in a voice that
could only mean that they got the inside joke.
us to a rundown part of the city (the whole city is rundown, but this
was even more so). We stopped in front of a hair saloon. Eric and I must
of looked confused because both of our rickshaw drivers looked back at
us and said, “Massage. Yes. Massage, massage,” while pointing
to the shop.
inside what was indeed a hair saloon. A little man with huge smile approached
us and said, “Hello, hello. Hair cut, shave, manicure?”
Eric and I said.
yes, massage,” he said and pulled out two tickets and wrote down
our orders like one would write down an order for a cheesesteak sandwich.
dollar each,” he said.
paid him. Then he led us through the salon and into another room. Ten
to twelve women sat on a concrete floor, using various pieces of carpet
for cushioning, and watching a small black and white television. All of
them wear wearing traditional silk Vietnamese dresses and all of them
man barked some orders in Vietnamese and two of the girls jumped up and
led us up some wooden stairs. We went into a long room with six massage
tables. There was already one masseuse in there with a large white guy
who had no hair. He was getting a regular massage at the time.
I had kind
of figured that something like this would be done in private, but I was
open to new things. The women told us to undress and get under the white
sheet on a massage table. Then they turned around while we did this.
were both on our tables, they proceeded with the massages. Don’t
get me wrong, the massages were excellent. We first got the full rubdown
with oil. Then they stood on us with their bare feet and cracked everything
that needed to be cracked. Finally, we got the more mellow hand massage.
guy who was already in the room finished with his massage before us. I
avoided looking over at him, but I had not heard any sounds that would
suggest that he gotten a hand job. He dressed and his masseuse led him
out of the room. Now, I was thinking one of two things: he either didn’t
want the hand job or the sexual stuff happened in another room. I shared
my thoughts with Eric and we agreed it must be the latter.
were completed after 45 minutes. We got dressed and were lead happily
out of the room, thinking we were going to private rooms for hand jobs.
happen. Right outside the massage room, the ladies started really pouring
on the charm. They were hanging all over us and giggling. They didn’t
speak English very well, but I did hear one of them say five dollars.
That seemed the going rate from what we heard, so we each pulled out five
dollars. They both seemed very happy, kissed us on the cheeks, and then
said good bye. Apparently, they were just asking for a five dollar tip,
because they went back to watching the black and white television and
forgot about us.
man with the big smile popped out of nowhere. “Yes, yes, good, good,”
he said. “Would you like a shave, a haircut? Look good for the girls.”
one argue that he thought he was paying five dollars extra for a hand
job? Especially with people who barely speak the same language as you.
no to his offers for haircuts and shaves.
Eric reasoned that $15 for massages was, after all, a great price compared
to what they run in the States. I agreed with him and felt better. Besides,
I could always tell people back home that I paid for a hand job in Vietnam.
How would they know any better?