May 7, 2013 § 1 Comment
Previously Posted on Oct 6th 2011
If you’ve read Tuesday’s post you know I’ve been a little tense lately. I have what they call a Hollywood Hangover. After being honorarily discharged from work on a difficult show you question your very existence on this Earth, convinced everyone else is an alien or a carney. Sort of like after a week long bender of hard drugs in Vegas, it’s what Hunter S. Thompson must of felt like most of the time. This is bat country.
So when a friend of mine suggested I head down to the Asian Day Spa, I promptly made an appointment. It wasn’t until I was in the parking lot that I realized this place was so authentic it was actually in Koreatown and English wasn’t the first language of the establishment. I don’t even think it was the second language. In fact, the sign out front was in symbols so I just trusted my GPS had taken me to the right address.
I was so frazzled with my tinsel town migraine I didn’t question much. I approached the front desk behind a robust butch woman who inquired my attendance. Not really wanting to explain myself to another patron, I vaguely paraphrased: reality TV, producer, long hours, extremely tense, etc. She then launched into a self-pitch. She wanted me to get her on Sons Of Anarchy in all her bad dye job glory. If I knew someone on a hit scripted FX show, I wouldn’t be handing out supporting roles to women I meet in line at the naked lady spa. Please, I’d be whoring myself out for a position. I was so irritated, I quickly grabbed my key from the receptionist and averted eye contact before I could get a further explanation of all my appointment entailed. My mistake.
Like any Asian household, you take off your shoes, put them in a locker with the corresponding number of your key. Easy enough. Then you undress and put your clothes in another numbered locker. Then you enter the spa area where your robe and towel gets put into… you guessed it, a locker with your number. I was beginning to realize what I was reduced to. Just like in concentration camps, Broadway cattle call auditions, Big Ten Universities, or in line at the deli. #51.
For the next half hour while I waited for my number to be called, I “enjoyed” several dips of my choice, a sauna and steam room. In hindsight, opting for this adventure solo was a blessing. I could hide my modesty in autonomy. This is not a place of privacy. Lead by example, I let it all hang out with the rest of them. A shower is required before and after slipping even a toe into each tub. I didn’t notice any bathing police, but I turned a blind eye to my neighbor’s hygiene and tried not to look too closely at anyone’s crotch.
From the tea dip, to the hot dip, to the cold dip, to the sauna, back again with 8 showers in between, finally a wee little roly-poly Korean lady in a black bathing suit stood in the center of the tiled experience and shouted at the top of her lungs in her very best English, “fi-ty ooooooonnnnn.” She even had it written on a cue card, in case I couldn’t understand her, like a chauffeur at the airport. My ride had arrived.
She escorted me behind a short partition to a row of about six vinyl beds all of which had naked female figures limply eeking out the most pleasure possible of a public massage.
First she washed me, scrubbed all my 2000 parts. I got the same feeling I get during a pedicure or a Brazilian waxing: what a world do we live in where I can pay a foreign stranger to do something so intimate for me? And why do they do a much better job than I can myself? I mean, I’ve had this body for 27 years, you’d think I’d be an expert at grooming it by now. Seriously, there was no messing around during this exfoliation, my body riding back and forth on loose skin. She really put some muscle behind it, it was like a football drill. After dousing me with buckets of water, she ordered me to take a shower and come back.
Standing up made me dizzy, and I had already took 36 showers while I was there, and she just cleaned me better than my own mother ever did, so I half-assed this rinse off. Whoops. She sent me back for another, like my dad would after a breath check when I only brushed with water, never trust a 4 year old. I took the second shower more seriously and was cleared to resume my posture on the table. Once more, a beached whale. Every once in a while I’d open an eye to stare across the rows of fleshy lumps and humps of my neighbors on the assembly line. My technician twisted and turned my limbs like a rag doll, barking at me to flip every few minutes. Not the best massage and facial I’ve ever had, but I’m not really one to be complaining about spa treatments when there are people out there without clean drinking water.
Wrapped in a clean warm robe, I spent the next 45 min lying on a heated jade floor. You need this type of meditation after the naked cold wet trauma of the bathing factory. Don’t get me wrong, my skin couldn’t have been smoother and I felt like a great heap of pudding. Perhaps the distress of the whole experience washed away my career bitterness for a bit, leaving me to solidly contemplate my own bathing rituals. Or maybe it’s just proof that you need to pay top dollar for someone to wash your ass crack in private. I guess I’m just not in that income bracket.