Why I’m Basically Fergie.

Katie Kleinjung Thailand 1 Comment

If you don’t know this song already, do yourself a big favor and search for Fergie (ft. Luda, obvi) “Glamorous”. I don’t know you, and particularly how you feel about another word for one’s behind that starts with ‘a’, so you decide if this is a good life choice for you (it probably is).

Or just click here if all that’s too confusing. Warning: synonym for booty comes up quick.





2. I have actually used this song more than once to help me spell glamorous. (And I know I’m not the only one who hums Gwen’s ‘Holla Back Girl’ when spelling bananas.)

3. Nothing screams glamour like a Verizon flip keyboard phone.

4. WOULD a dad say to his ballerina outfit clad daughter, “If you ain’t got no money take your broke (booty) home?” Would he? Mine didn’t. Granted, I wasn’t glamorous enough to be a ballerina, so.

5. Lest you think me not a Christian now, please know that in 1994 I was not at keggers in East LA. I was wearing gelly shoes and stealing Lisa Frank folders from Amanda in elementary school. So I’m not all bad.

I could end writing now because if that song wasn’t a part of your life, I have done my job. See #1.

I just need you to have this song and the sentiment behind it (that sentiment being glamour, sophistication, class and just all things RICH) in your mind as I share with you a tale from the missionary field. Just get it on a loop in your mind as you read.

(I should also say I never claimed to be Elisabeth Elliot. I am Katie. So Jesus-stuff sometimes, Fergie others.)

The Massage That Went Wrong 

(I hope you got that drop beat going in your head; are you ready?)


One of the perks of living in Thailand is that you can get a massage for five bucks. Just like anything else, there’s a range in prices and the prices generally reflect the overall atmosphere of the establishment. Five bucks generally means an indoor place with AC, some hot tea after, and a nice mat on the floor with curtains around it. Great.

I have a chronic bad neck, so head, neck and shoulder massages are my bestie. But not Stephen’s. Also nursing a fat little baby means I’m hunched over a lot. So those five buck massages are at least an-every-other-week-thing for me.

But once in a while, I like to get fancy.


Stephen and I were at this cool place close to our house. There was a “spa” there, so I wandered in and checked out the prices.

This place had head, neck and shoulder massages for ten bucks. But oh man. The spa was gorgeous and smelled amazing; they used all natural oils they made on site from herbs grown in their garden; each massage included a ten minute foot soak in flower water while you sipped hot tea; the massage ended with a shower (optional) and some fruit to munch.

Stephen, knowing how much I love and needed a massage, simply said, “Feed the baby. Then go.”

So I went.

I walked the wooden pathway that was over a pond to enter the spa. Immediately I felt relaxed.

I was pointed to a chair, instructed to take off my shoes and handed a cup of tea made from “this one flower”. I don’t know. It was blue. It was fancy.

A wooden basin containing “herb milk” was set before my aching, tired, missionary feet. I sat with my feet in the Heaven-water, sipped my tea and texted Stephen, “THIS IS AMAZEBALLS. THANK YOU.”

The woman manning the front desk asked me what kind of massage I wanted and what kind of pressure I liked.

Now, as I said, I have a bad neck. So for me, massages aren’t about relaxing necessarily. I want someone to get in there and do work.  So when asked about the pressure I told her I need deep tissue.

“Oh, okay. I call for you the one we call when we have large American men come in. She is very good. She is very hard. Wait a couple minutes before telling her to go soft because after the pain, it may feel good. She has the strongest hands.”


Out came, no lie, a four foot nine inch sixty year old woman with a big, toothless grin. I loved her already.

She came out of the back carrying a tray of scrubs. She knelt down and scrubbed my feet. Amazing. She asked me what kind of massage I wanted, and I used the little Thai I know to tell her I wanted a strong neck rub. She smiled and asked if my neck hurt a lot. I explained that yes it does and that nursing a baby doesn’t help.

Which is when she reached up, patted my left boob and said, “Yes! Lots of milk! Lots! Lots!”. She laughed harder than I would expect a stranger to laugh after patting my breast, but, who am I to judge?

She dried off my feet and led me to a room with an actual massage table. Not just a mat on the floor, but an actual table with a face hole. And on the floor for me to stare at through the face hole? A gorgeous flower arrangement.

The room and all the linens smelled like lime and lemon grass and lavender.

Flying first class, up in the sky…

I set my phone and keys down, determined not to think once about Valor or Shep (I love them, but it would be nice to miss them once), climbed on the table and braced myself for some tension relief.

And that’s when she climbed up on the table with me.

She started by kneeling on my butt and just rubbing my back. She asked if the pressure was okay, and it totally was. There were only a few times during the massage where the pressure was too much, but it was quick and I assumed it would be working knots out. Not paralyzing me.

Slowly she began using her actual knees to do the massage.

Her knees.

I lifted my head once to look in the wall-size mirror across from us.

Me: head down, laying still. Her: knees in my lower back, arms and hands on either side of my head, intermittently walking her knees up and down my spine. All while asking me questions about my babies, of which I could answer roughly a third. And, my head was in a hole and getting all the blood of my body rushed to it, so my really rough Thai sounded really, really rough.

I’d be trying to find the Thai word for something and she’d hit a nerve or a knot or just knock the wind out of me and I’d stutter or grunt or something and she’d laugh and laugh. One time she patted my butt and called it ‘pretty fat’. She wasn’t saying it was very fat, she was saying it was pretty and fat. See the difference? Yeah, I don’t either.

After thirty minutes of having my butt literally knee’d by a tiny old Thai lady, I started to wonder when the neck portion of this massage would start. After all, that is why I was here. I started to get nervous though, wondering how exactly she would perform a neck massage. Images of her climbing onto my neck and me carrying her on my shoulders popped up in mind. We’ll see.

No sooner than all those lovely images flooded my mind did I feel her tapping my butt (again), climbing down and telling me to go use the bathroom. Then she’d do my neck.

Okay, sure. I’ll go to the bathroom.

I lifted my arms to the face hole, pushed myself up and that’s when I realized something had gone terribly wrong.

I lifted my head up about two feet and immediately froze. I couldn’t get higher, my lower back literally could not move.

Drinking champagne, living the life.

I forgot to mention I was only wearing underwear. So, not only was my Thai Massage Grandma expecting me to get up, but I needed to do so while wrapping a towel around my ‘lots of milk’ and ‘pretty fat’ self. Those activities are much easier when one has use of one’s body.

I panicked. I was on all fours, towel hanging off me, and Thai Massage Gma was staring at me, smiling. She slowly walked over to me, slapped my butt and said, ‘Bathroom!’.

With every second that passed, I become more and more nervous that she may have actually broken my back. This cannot be happening. This cannot be actually happening. Just move. Just move your legs. 

Very gracefully, I threw my legs off the table and stood there, half leaning over it, bent at the waist, while Grandma Pain watched in confusion. I gave up on the towel. Whatever, she was on my butt for half an hour and had already gotten to second base in the lobby, so I was over it. I looked at her, trying as hard as I could to be cool, and smiled and said simply, “A lot of pain.” My Thai was perfect.

The bathroom was literally ten feet away from the bed in the same room. I thought maybe Grandma Pain would leave, but, no, not a chance. She just stood there, smiling her toothless grin at me and nodding. I think she was trying to encourage me to just go pee.

I tried to straighten up, but I could not. So,  with my back at a ninety degree angle, I made my left leg take a step and pain shot through my entire back. Here’s the thing about your lower back: it’s everything. Moving my legs, apparently, happens somewhere in my lower back. You’re welcome for the anatomy lesson.

The glamorous, oh the flossy, flossy.

I tried to move my right leg and I simply could not. Could not. So I turned sideways and shuffled, not lifting my right foot off the ground, and still bent at the waist, to the bathroom. I shut the bathroom door, looked at the toilet seat and realized that I could not lower myself down. I grabbed a robe hanging on the wall, grunted it on, and shuffled back out to the room.

Grandma was waiting. She looked really disappointed when I sideways bent over shuffled out. I just pointed to my clothes on a chair and said, in Thai, “Home now. All done. I don’t want more. Cannot walk now. Thank you Grandma.”

She asked if she should rub my neck, we weren’t done. I just said, “Do not want.” She said okay and walked out. As I was pulling my dress on, I was freaking out. What in the world was happening? This would happen to me. My fancy time massage and now I literally cannot walk. How am I going to take care of my kids? How am I going to hold Shep…

…how am I going to walk to the parking lot?

My stomach sank. I was going to have to try and bend-and-shuffle out of the spa in front of God knows who and then try and get in the car.

I texted Stephen, “I cannot walk. Literally. Please pull up as close as possible.”

I hobbled out, and I kid you not, every single staff person in the entire spa (okay, I have no idea how many people work there, but it felt like everyone) was in the lobby waiting. Next to a chair were my shoes and Grandma Paralyze. I had to reach out to the chair, still bent at the waist, and like climb on to it. At this point my cheeks were bright red and I wanted to, oh, die.

Grandma put my shoes on and rambled on in Thai about medicine and two hours (maybe days, I was maybe half listening, I was mostly trying not to scream out in pain). Another kind looking woman started walking toward me with a fruit plate and all I could do was wave and say, “No worries, pain, do not want.” She smiled and turned around.

The lady at the beautiful reception desk said in English, “Are you in pain?” I wanted to say something really rude and snarky, but I decided to take the classy route and retain whatever shred of dignity I had, and said simply, “Yes.” She smiled and said, “Maybe it will get better.” Yes, friend. Maybe it will.

The second my shoes were on, I pushed myself up, turned sideways and began my shuffle out of the immaculate spa. Over the gorgeous flower moat thing, I shuffled. Past the herbs growing for oils and lotions, I shuffled. As everyone in the spa watched me for a full five minutes move 10 meters, I shuffled.

If you ain’t got no money, take your broke booty home.

I could see the car. My safe haven.

Stephen got out of the car, looked at me with a curious expression, and started to walk toward me.

He stood in front of me holding my hands while I shuffled to the car. He offered to fireman carry me, but I couldn’t bend anymore/differently. We got to the car and it took a couple minutes for me to get in. It was easier getting into that car while I was in transition in labor. That may be a little bit of an exaggeration, but only a little.

The entire ride home Stephen was cracking jokes and I was mad because laughing hurt and trying not to pee my pants is an issue anyway, and now it was way harder. At one point I just said, “Just please don’t talk at me.”

We got home, and our sweet guards were working on something in front of our house. Awesome. As I hobbled out of the car, Stephen holding my arms, my right foot dragging, my body bent, the thing that ran through my mind over and over was:


I spent the next 24 hours in bed.

And I have not gotten a fancy massage since.

Fancy just isn’t for me.



Posted by Katie

Posted by Katie

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  1. Pingback: Real Messy Missions, Take 2 | The Kleinjungs

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