Minding the Borderlands

Mark Koester (@markwkoester) on the art of travel and technology

Getting Rubbed Down at YoYo: An Anecdote From a Chinese Toilet

When you travel and live outside of the “comfort zone” of your home, unexpected things sometimes occur. Take, for example, a recent outing I had with a couple fellow female teachers and a couple Chinese girls at “a hipper club” here in XiaoShan, China called YoYo Club.

The club had all the trappings of trendy club in the United States or in Europe—bright, flashy lights outside, a goofy name, valet service, a bouncer, and, of course, a pulsing electronic pop that makes you want to forget tomorrow’s tomorrow.

Once we got situated, things only got progressively “different.” Almost instantly our waiter was there waiting on us, porting a dangerously flashy tie. In fact, all the waiters had to wear the same half triangle tie and outfit. And even before we could fathom a choice, he was ready to take our order. We ordered Vodka, an odd choice for the Chinese who lean more towards Whiskey. He was uncannily fast in bringing our alcohol, which he subsequently mixed and served us. And he was uncannily always there to serve and re-serve us. He was so uncannnily there that he never really left, waiting on us individually for most the night.

As alcohol consumption continued, I had to, in spite of the androgynously dressed dancers on stage, to “relieve” myself. After turning around for a bit, I noticed the universal symbol for toilet: a cartoonish woman (it’s the dress!) standing next to a cartoonish man (it’s the lack of dress). As if two people standing together could only mean “squatting hole near.”

So I arrive at the urinal with its flowing stream to aid my task. I had just started doing my business when low-and-behold, the Chinese bathroom attendant starts giving me a full-out back massage…while I was peeing. Surprise! I’m not sure what he said, but I couldn’t help but laugh and continue onwards, in spite of myself. He subsequently continued my massage as I washed my hands, only stopping to hand me a towel to dry my hands.

By the way, how much do you tip for a “urinal back massage”?

I can only imagine how things would have been HAD I chosen to use one of the stalls!?!

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