Saturday, May 21, 2011

Looking for God in all the wrong places

"Can a massage cause and irreperable harm?" craaaaack. "Can a massage KILL you?" craaaaack. "God I don't want to die here."

So there I was, getting the most painful massage in my life from a hulk of a Thai woman, trying to mind-over-matter myself out it, when, in a more gracious moment that lulled me into a false sense of security, she asked me about my tattoo.

"What is your tattoo?" craaaaack. ("Oooowwweeeee. God, if I survive this I'll do anything. I'll start going to church again. I'll stop rapping ODB in front of Jesuit novices. I'll stop cussing at those goddam cats that are infesting my building. Just let me liiiive.")
"It's from the Bible, about helping the poor," I said, hoping that would soften her heart enough to take it easy on me.
"Oh. Is it the time like on a watch, Mt 19:21?"
"No it is a chapter, a passage, like a page number."
"Is it lucky?" craaaaack. ("Are elbows supposed to crack like that? I hope so.")
"No, not for luck. it's more like lesson."

Then we stopped talking so she could get back to testing my threshold for pain. I was lying on my side while she carved her knuckles into my neck, wondering when the relaxing part was supposed to begin, trying not to be the first (sober) person to puke in her massage parlor, when I thought back to my tattoo. What was the "lesson" etched on my wrist? Not to get a tattoo on whim after a few beers? No, that's not it.

To be honest, I'm not actually sure what I am supposed to learn or reflect on whenever I notice it. The passage is about a rich man who asks Jesus how to get into heaven and Jesus tells him to give his riches to the poor and follow Him.

Well, I'm not rich. And I do follow Jesus (when I'm not in Pattaya). So what do I tell this interrogationist when she is practicing her enhanced techniques to get information out of me?

I guess I'd say that it is just a gentle reminder not to become too attached to things. If I truly want to follow the example of Jesus I need to live without and give what I can to others.

So, fewer spending sprees and massages. That's fine. It'll take awhile to recover from this one.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Let's have a quick conversation about toothpaste

There I was, hungover, at a friend's house with no toothbrush, looking for some toothpaste to at least make it smell like I'd brushed my teeth (no judgement, you've all been there). And then I see it. Darlie's toothpaste. "Gee, that's looks a little off color... because of it's color," I thought. But I was not in the mood to think.

Then I'm at the grocery store, looking to buy some cheap toothpaste. Last time I bought toothpaste in Thailand, I got some weird sea salt paste. And, of course, the cheapest stuff was Darlie. I picked it up, looked at the smiling black man in the top hat, with the words "Smiling White" underneath it.

Now, the moment of truth, do my morals keep me from buying this minty minstrel paste? Or do I buy it for novelty... and because I'm broke? Well, I consulted my two friends. "No," one friend said. "Of course it's not racist. He's not even a black guy." Yeah, he's not a black guy and I don't have a dental hygeine problem.

So I buy the stuff. It's almost like if a membership to the Klan came in spearmint.

So, as Enid appreciated Coon's chicken in "Ghost World," I can appreciate my new Darlie toothpaste, a toothpaste that makes a killing in Asia, I might add. I get the box of toothpaste home and crack it open, to find Chinese characters on it. Ishow it to my friend, who can read the language and I hear, "Oh no. Yeah, that is racist." What did it say? "Darlie. The Black Man's Toothpaste. Smiling White."

As it turns out, it used to be called Darkie's Toothpaste. Who'da thunk?

Oops. But, I have to say, it's so offensive, I can't not use it. It keeps my tooth brushin' ritual nice and political. In the end, it just matters what my other friend said when I bought it. "Molly, that stuff doesn't work."

That should've been good enough.