This is what the Malay woman told me during my spa treatment at the Hotel Puri in Malacca.

She then said, “Now I be back in twenty minute.”

She left me slathered in some sandalwood and coriander concoction, wrapped in cellophane, a papaya cream smeared across my face.  She had the grace to take off the minty cool mini-towels that covered my eyelids (bless her) after she sensed that I was slightly uncomfortable.

“I’m a little hot.  Could you turn on the fan?” I asked.

She giggled like I was fucking kidding.

How could I relax with that creepy new age music playing in the background like Yanni porn?

I tried to calm myself by counting the seconds until she returned to unwrap me.  I managed to peer over at my partner sprawled on the coroner’s slab to my left.  No small feet considering that my head was wrapped in a eucalyptus steamed turban.  He had those mini-towels on his eyelids and was dead to the world.  Asshole.  I swear, that guy could relax if Godzilla came splashing through Victoria Harbor bound for our apartment.

I thought of my upcoming local teaching gig (which starts tomorrow, Friday the 13th).  I hoped that our car back to Kuala Lumpur would arrive on time and deliver us safely to the hotel.  I wished that we had more time to spend in Malacca.  I wondered why this awful music was synonymous with spas.  I imagined bringing my own CD to my next spa treatment, instructing the masseuse to put it in and press play.  But then I thought that Billie Holiday singing about racial inequality in the South wouldn’t be very relaxing, and that Brahms intermezzos would make me moody, Eric Satie’s Trios Gymnopedie would make me cry.  And then I realized that Yanni and Enya were perfect for spa treatments.

Then I grew fearful.

What if I had an allergic reaction to this Indian curry that had been kneaded into my body?

What if I was, in fact, being slowly cooked in the tropical sun?

What if these Malay bitches didn’t know the first thing about spa treatments?

What if there is no one to sue and I’m left with terrible burns?

What if my partner leaves me because I’m horribly disfigured?  He’d never be that shallow but I’d be tempted to say, “No, please…you must live your life.  Leave me here, in my wheelchair and skin grafts with my wet nurse.”

What if I died in a plane crash back to Hong Kong?  I imagined my parents getting the news from my inconsolable partner (he’s still in Singapore for work).  How would they get my dental records to Malaysia?

Then my masseuse returned to unwrap me and begin the full-body massage.

“Please don’t pitch a tent!” I thought.

I didn’t.  And for that I was grateful.