Travel Thursday Encore–How to mix pleasure with business–Seattle 05, Day 4, Part 1

I’d thought from the moment I arrived at this hotel on Monday that the neighborhood looked familiar, and not because of the Needle, and as I walked along I saw why. The Quick Shuttle to–and from–Vancouver has one of their stops at another hotel a block away; took that ride plenty of times.
Walking from the hotel toward downtown, the monorail made a pretty whooshing sound overhead. I basically followed that route, just for fun, and I quickly knew when I’d been walking for ten minutes because another monorail whooshed by me. It really is a pretty sound–something like a Mai Bloomfield cello solo–and echoes, or is it reverbs, even better in the rain.
Went to the office this morning for a major meeting and was talking to the secretary beforehand, without flirting of course, when this incredibly stressed guy came in and took a seat. I didn’t think he was a model, but the sec still explained that he was here to try out for a photographer opening {wow, that sounds really dirty, if you try hard enough}. So I talked to him, and he got majorly pissed that I’ve never taken a photo class in my life, whereas he went to college and studied it for 4 years. {Yes, I’m better than him, it was pretty obvious from his photos.} So, simply because I knew I’d never get a better chance to say this in my life, I told him, “Don’t hate da playa, hate da game.”
As usual, the meetings were hella boring, but they have to be done, or else people won’t pay me to travel. . .
Seemingly just down the street as I got out, there’s Pike Place, and it’s been a few trips since I’ve wandered through there. . . but no, something caught my eye that seemed much more important at the moment. Technically still part of Pike’s, yet on the street outside. . . how can I resist a place called Bohemian Massage? Fatigued after three days of non-stop, high-intensity touristing, not to mention a few meetings concerning my business future, I didn’t realize how much I needed to relieve both my tiredness and stress until I literally bumped into it. As I looked at the menu of services, I found I couldn’t decide between all the yummy-sounding options: a typical massage was obviously the favorite, on my injured lower back that was screaming for attention, but a foot massage, reflexology, Swedish massage, neck and shoulder massage. . . it all sounded good. Just about the only thing I ruled out was a manicure/pedicure and henna paintings.
Bohemia Therapeutic Massage is theoretically part of Pike Place Market, located in the Sanitary Market Building–so named because it was the first to outlaw horses on the premises–but it faces First Street; no need to go into the labyrinth of little shops to find it. It didn’t take more than a minute inside, talking to Bo, the massage lady, to realize the store title was apt in more ways than one. Both the store and the lady herself gave off a hippie air, and as we spoke during the massage she quickly told me she was from the north part of the Czech Republic, known to most people as Bohemia, so the name was both literal and figurative.
Bo looked to be in her middle 40s, but very casually told me she was approaching seventy. If that’s a testament to her lifestyle, then I’m jumping on the massage bed right now. Her arms had muscles bodybuilders would be proud of.
Took a while to find a place to store my backpack and clothes that wouldn’t be in the way–the actual massage room, on the side, was a bit tiny–but finally I was lying on the table and she was oiling me up and working dem muscles. It was pretty amazing that she spent the whole time on just my lower back, yet used so many different techniques. I’m also amazed that I remember any of it, since she kept me pretty entertained with her musing and ramblings. She seemed to talk nonstop, starting with have I ever been to Bohemia, of course, but she was also a good listener. Perhaps no one who’d ever come into her store knew what a Bohemia was, and I was the first who’d actually been there. She laughed heartily at the joke that the Bohemian language had so many accents it looked like a bunch of flies had fallen on the page. I don’t know if she has similar experiences with all her customers, but for some reason I felt like we really bonded.
Even after we were done and there were no other customers for the moment–she said lunch hour was her busiest time–I stayed awhile to talk. And as I walked out, along with her very cool red business card, she handed me a parting gift–a tiny ceramic ladybug! I still carry it everywhere I go; it’s become a great luck charm. . .
Boy, I needed that! Though as usual it doesn’t last. I was slowly wearing down from all the running around of the last three days, but since I didn’t have much planned for tomorrow, I figured I’d go all out today.
Pike’s Place is such a fascinating locale. I think I figured out why all the shops, at least in the old part, are so tiny: it used to be a whorehouse! When you see the old sign advertising Peaches, I’m not sure it’s the fruit. They even handed out business cards to the arriving sailors which said, “Friends easily made.” I can tell you so many stories–this time non-sexual–about wandering these halls, with that little cubbyhole of mysteries, the Lefty Store, being told to meet someone at the Sasquatch statue, Holy Cow Records, Market Magic, Old Seattle Paperworks, Pharaoh’s Treasures, Women’s Hall of Fame, Yesterdaze, Metsker Maps, Market Coins, The Great Windup–toys!–Cinnamon Works, and, of course the strip club that said, “featuring 50 beautiful girls and 3 ugly ones.” And no flying fish! And as always wondering if there was anything worth seeing in the upper floors of most of the buildings, not just offices.

strip club, 50 beautiful girls and three ugly ones

After buying some special scissors and a T-shirt, which I still use frequently, at the Lefty Store–IT’S A LEFTY WORLD! The dude recognizes me!–spent some time haunting the corridors, my nose usually closed around all the fish, as well as near the Daycare center. I was looking for that man who made the clay bird whistles I had met on the forever-long Coast Starlight train so long ago, but that’s another story, and he’s probably retired by now. Did see the store with the Mexican Indian stuff, where I got a beaded jaguar mask on sale, but the last time I was there the female half of the ownership was so rude I deliberately walked by this time. Hell, I almost went back to the Lefty store to get more stuff, show ‘em what real customer service was. As I recall, the Lefty Store at the Rocks in Sydney had excellent customer service as well. And of course, just for symmetry, the area where this Lefty Store is located is known as “Down Under.”
Now feeling hungry, I ambled over to my usual Pike Place dining experience, Three Girls Bakery, where the display is usually enough to get the drool started. “Because of the food or the three girls?” you wonder, a logical and hopefully innocent question. Well, I’ll just grin and attempt to be mysterious. . .
Unfortunately, for the first time ever, I didn’t find anything I was in the mood for, or generally appetizing–don’t ask whether the girls were appetizing, it’s just a name–but luckily I didn’t have to walk far to get to a produce stand, where I saw the most succulent grapes I’d ever laid peeled eyes on. The hippie-looking guy begged me to try one, and as I looked to the side of the stands I saw a view as yummy as the grape in my mouth. . .
She assured me the grapes were especially sweet today, which was a mistake on her part–like they’re not gonna be as sweet tomorrow?–but I let it go. She was a perky little brunette in pigtails that I hope were the reason she looked so young–well, the shortness might have something to do with it–and throughout the entire conversation the huge smile never left her skull. I pictured her as a college student, maybe U Dub, maybe Seattle U, which was much closer. Either studying Ag, or maybe the stand belonged to her parents, or maybe it was just a job–go ahead and fanwank if you must. I really couldn’t picture her in high school, since this was school hours, not summer, and she looked like she knew what she was doing. I did not get the name of her stand, but it’s right on the diagonal corner–you’ll know it when you see it! And if you do spot her, tell her I still pine for her, just so she can look at you weirdly because she has no idea who you’re talking about. . .
But, back to the moment. “That really was a good choice,” she assured me as she handed me the pound of grapes that would be all I needed for lunch and took my money. “I try them every day, and they really are extra sweet today.”
“As sweet as. . .?”
She gave me a quizzical look.
“I thought you were going to say ‘as sweet as me’.”
She gave out a hoot. “I don’t toot my own horn! You’d have to find out for yourself.”
I brightened. “Okay!”
Her eyes widened. “Hey, waitaminute. . .” Then she saw my urchin-boy grin and laughed, wagging a finger at me as she went into the back.
I asked the hippie dude, who’d obviously seen the whole thing, what time they opened in the morning, which was probably a dumb question to ask farm-related workers, but it did give me something to do before heading off to the airport, if I didn’t forget as thoroughly as I did with that beautiful jogger the other day.
Already munching as I walked along, I turned a corner and totally remembered the spot where I’d taken the photo of a cute teenage violinist that reminded me so much of Hilary Hahn, my fave, though she later denied it was her, while looking at the photo and admitting the girl looked a lot like her. Oh well, I’ll make a “rosin up your bow” joke later. . . and always leave a tip when you stop to listen, it’s only fair.

Seattle, music, violin, flute, violinist, flutist, girl violinist, Pike Place

The grapes being so big I could only handle one at a time, I marched past some of my other favorite eateries, like Counter-Intelligence and El Puerco Lloron–which translates to the Crying Pig, which is not as clever as one I saw in Mexico called El Puerco Relleno, the Stuffed Pig, because I always feel like one when I leave. Was pleased that I found the Sky Bridge on the first try, trying really hard not to break my blank face at the people coming up Hillclimb Corridor, better known as “Cardiac Gulch.” Luckily all my attention was focused on the next step in front of me; any grapes that got into my hand and then my mouth did so strictly on muscle memory. I was so in the zone I forgot I’d wanted to go to Procopio for some of that ol’ time gelato.
And this seems as good a place as any to take a break till next week. . .


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