The difference between bravery and stupidity is not so much seen in the action you take, but in what you allow yourself to realize before you act. It’s amazing what you will be “brave” enough to do if you simply don’t think about what you’re actually doing. It’s actually not hard at all to deliberately not think about what you’re doing because you know that if you do think about it you won’t do it.
That’s how I was able to tolerate a hot soak in a certain crowded 6元 bathhouse the other weekend — a bathhouse that easily had the nastiest water in the history of nasty bathhouse water. And I’m no germaphobe — I’ve eaten cockroaches in Thailand and danced around fresh, green cow patties to wade through a bathing heard of east African longhorns for a swim down a chocolate-milk-coloured river in rural Uganda — but that bathhouse water was thick with floaties, like watery oatmeal. It’s a week later I’m still getting shivers just thinking about it, which, of course, is something I didn’t do at the time.
We nixed the original 12元 bathhouse after discovering it was basically a brothel and moved to this cheaper one, but I’m thinking we have to scratch this one off the list as well. It’s too bad, cause the head 师父 who did my guasha (刮痧) and fire-cupping (拔火罐，拔罐子) was really nice and fun to talk to.
Anyway, this post isn’t actually about how I’m still cringing at the memory of that
dead-skin-soupwater even as I write this. It’s about a traditional Chinese health problem called “getting wind” (受风), and what your fire cup hickey dots (印) look like a couple days later if you’ve “got wind” really bad:
When the guys in the bathhouse saw how dark my marks were, they said, “Whoa, you’ve really got wind.” The darker the marks, the more “wind” you have in your body, and having wind in your body is bad. I wish I’d taken a photo that night when they were darker; this photo is from two days later after it’d started to fade.
The “wind” of Chinese medicine isn’t exactly the same as the wind you’re thinking of. You can “get wind” (受风) and “dispel wind” (祛风). (When people talk they mean 祛 but usually say “qù”, so it’s often written “去” because that matches their pronunciation, even though it’s technically not correct.) Fire-cupping (拔火罐，拔罐子) is supposed to help dispel “wind”. Another very common ailment is having too much “fire” in your body (上火). You’re supposed to have some “fire”, but you have to keep it balanced and under control. You can get guasha (刮痧) to lower your body’s “fire” (祛火).