Friday, March 20, 2009

Korean Scrub Disguised as a Hug

Another disillusioned day of woe in this big city and I find myself going to where I feel most at home... in the midst of a culture.
Today, I picked Korea town!
I have heard of these so called Women's Day Spa's and have passed by one many times on my route to and fro. Enticingly, it was named, The Grand Spa, so I decided to create an adventure for myself. As I was getting into the elevator I was accompanied by young, giggling Korean girls. They were all excited and talking in Korean about all the services they are going to get done. I tried not to stare too much but I was hoping to get a glimpse of understanding as to what I should do.
As the doors open, my eyes were greeted by an array of Korean women all dressed in white. From white towels, robes, to scrubs. I swirled around trying to figure out what the posters on the wall and front desk meant.
Finally I spotted something I recognized, "Oil Massage", "Scrub", $40".
That sounded good to me. I greeted the woman with a smile and pointed to the poster. She smiled and nodded and gave me my own white robe and towel. At this point, I was a bit confused, but I just smiled and made my way to the locker rooms.
All wrapped up in my white towel, I made my way towards the squeaky sounds of water and flip flops. The Grand door opened to what seemed like a mermaids oasis.
20 showers to your left, with a standing or sitting option, soaking tubs upstairs in all different temperatures, dry saunas, steam rooms, and so much more. I decided to try it all.
As I peeked into the dry sauna I saw expressionless, naked Korean women sitting, sweating and watching tv. I went in for a few minutes and found it impossible to make eye contact with them. As I sat and attempted to block out the Korean news, I decide to head to the tubs. Hmmm...should I do the Green tea cold plunge, the warm plunge, or the hot salt plunge. I decide to go into the cold. For I do know that circulating from hot to cold stimulated your lymphatic and adrenal systems. As i slowly stepped inch my inch into the freezing cold water, my cathartic reactions got the better of me. My Oklahoma came out and I could not help but to laugh and scream! Now of course, I caught some eyes. The naked Korean woman all looked at me with a slight grin on their face, as I said to them with articulation,
"C O L D". They nodded and giggled and I popped out of there faster than a frog about to be cooked in a pot.
I spent 20 minutes or so popping in and out of steam rooms and hot tubs until I was stopped by a short, chubby, Korean woman wearing a black bra and black panties. "Numbe 75?" she says to me. Remembering the number on the key to my locker I say yes. She slaps me on the back and says, "Good".
Is she my masseuse?
She leads me past the showers and into the massage room that shares the same floors as the showers. As I passed naked Koreans lying on wet beds, I heard the sounds of flesh hitting wet flesh. My eyes were wide with complete shock. Not only was I naked and wet, so was my masseuse. For some reason, it filled me with memories of Miller Swim School as a kid. Oh, how I loathed swimming lessons!
She lead me into the room and smacked the plastic bed with her hand signifying me to hop on. s.o. hop on.
She then pours hot water all over me like a dog being washed in the sink. I was laughing with awe at the fact that this was happening to me. She pulled me down on my tummy and got these huge exfoliating gloves on. With brisk movements she salted and scrubbed me like a piece of meat being seasoned for the BBQ.
As I vocally express my shock and amusement she says the second English word of the day, "Good?" "Good" I say.
Then more warm water was being poured on my back with small bowls and I started to relax and enjoy it. Until, I turned my head and was faced with a big black panted crotch in my face. She was pouring hot oil over my back and rubbing me like a potter loosens his clay but just a little too close. I couldn't move too much...even though she was small, she was strong as hell.
Did she realize her black panted crotch was in my face? I held my breath and let her do her job. After vigorous strokes all over my body, she flipped me over and opened a box filled with cucumber and pear relish. She slabbed the goo on my face and wrapped me in a steaming hot towel. I would have smiled at this point, but I was afraid the facial relish was not edible.
Then came my favorite part...she washed my hair. With vigor, she lathered and brushed and rinsed like Ann used to do when I was a kid.
As this whole process was going on, no words were said in the whole place, only the sounds of water splashing and hands smacking wet thighs was heard.
She then rinsed me off and poured this warm, white liquid over me. Milk! She was pouring warm milk all over my body. I let a little drizzle into my mouth and had a faint memory of my mother for some reason.
That was all. She slapped my back to tell me to get up and shower.
I said "Kom sam nee da" which is "thank you' in Korean as she slapped my ass on the way out.
In amazement with what just happened, I showered off and robed up. Still curious, I see that this was just the beginning of the spa. There was an array of Korean women meticulously applying make-up, others lounging in robes watching Korean music videos. There is even a place to sleep on warm tile floors and thin mattresses (overnight, too). I got dressed, paid my small fee, and left with the same grin of confusion as I walked in with. But I sure did feel relaxed. In some way I felt healed. It was like a mother/child experience that I have not felt in a long time.
How good it is!
Another cultural connection of sharing bodies with out saying more than 3 words,
'Hello', 'Thank you' and "Good bye".
That's all we need!

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