Upon realizing you are literally riddled with auto-immune disorders, it’s important to take care of yourself. I believe Oprah calls this “Self Care.” It’s when you shirk all normal obligations, i.e. going to work, in the interest of say taking a bath. I’m real into Self Care for this reason. So when my friend, Ilya, suggested we adventure over to a Korean Spa, I was interested.
Korean Spas are an LA institution…well, technically they’re a Korean institution but just like everything else, LA stole this idea and now it’s ours. Fuck you, Korea. I’m very familiar with White Person Spas. This is where you spend gazillions of dollars to be treated like royalty despite the fact that you live in a studio and drive a 2001 Daewoo. I’ve frequented White Person Spas by borrowing money from my parents and reminding them that my spine is fusing together. I didn’t realize how different a Korean Spa would be and I was not prepared for my experience. I’m gonna be honest, they tried to kill me.
There were several red flags I should have taken into consideration upon entering the Korean Spa but I was so excited by the prospect of being naked and rubbed that I ignored my finer instincts. For starters, the entrance to this hovel was adorned with plastic flowers. Nothing depicts cheap unsophistication like a plastic flower. They’re horrifying. Next, they made me pay up front. Not a good sign. After stealing all my money, these clowns gave me two towels reminiscent of those found at a homeless shelter and a hair net. A HAIR NET! I went to college for one reason only, to never have to wear a hair net in my daily life. I should have turned around at this point but this particular spa was said to have the only natural hot springs in LA, known for its restorative powers and I had just been on disability for two months so restorative powers definitely seemed to be in order. I continued on with this process and I regret it.
I walked into the locker room (disgusting…obviously) and got naked. Typically this would be the point where I wrapped myself in a fluffy robe but instead I draped myself with a scratchy towel that barely covered my jadge. I decided to keep my underwear on in the interest of being modest. I didn’t have a robe but I still had my dignity. Next I was greeted by an old Korean woman wearing a black bikini with a skirted bottom. I was alarmed. She clearly didn’t speak English but I was able to quickly determine that she was yelling at me and now I was scared so I got in line and followed her to what can best be described as a horse stable. I entered an all tiled room that was divided by glass walls but had no doors. Each stall was adorned by a plastic table, several shower heads, and what can only be described as a mop bucket. I was panicked. At this point, my new Korean friend and I had a little chat:
Terrifying Korean Woman: Gimmie your towel
TKW (pointing at my underwear): What are those?
TKW: Take them off
TKW: Do it.
TKW: Lay down.
Me: I’m naked and scared and you’re being very rude
TKW: *maniacal laughter*
I laid down and tried to wrap my head around the fact that I was nude in a horse stall and had just handed my underwear to a stranger. I had expected pampering but instead received physical brutality. Ilya was in the stall next to me and the entire thing was reminiscent of Schindler’s List. I thought I might never see her again and started to recall all the good times we shared.
I was face down at this point and had to use my other senses in order to determine what was happening. I heard a lot of water and finally the terrifying Korean woman placed a towel over my bare ass. I thought that was nice until I realized that she was literally beating me to death through a surreptitiously placed towel. For the next hour, she randomly placed this towel all over my body. Occasionally, she would dip the towel into the mop bucket and it would be soaked with what I have to assume was the water she used to launder her bikini skirt.
In the meantime, I was getting sporadically splashed with water from the stall next to me where Ilya was getting a “scrub.” At the time, I thought she was drowning. This was not the intimate experience I had anticipated. I have never equated an intimate experience with hoses and mop buckets. Also, my intimate experiences typically have a door and lack an aging Korean woman.
As I was imagining my happy, intimate experience place, I realized I was being slapped by the Korean. Apparently she wanted me to turn over so that I would be face up. She wasn’t even pretending to massage me anymore. She was just hitting me. When I tried to speak up, she put a mask all over my face. I believe this was an attempt to blind me so she could focus on rubbing my boobs for the next 20 minutes. It didn’t even feel sexual. It felt like she was trying to remove them from my torso. Finally, she washed and conditioned my hair. It seemed to me like this was her apology for beating me and then ineffectively fondling me. I started to like the Korean woman at this point and then worried that I was suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. Just as I was envisioning how happy the Korean and I would be together, she ripped me off the plastic gurney, handed me my underwear and sent me on my way. I was crestfallen.
The thing that’s confusing about a Korean Spa is that you may end up inadvertently falling in love with your captor. Also, it’s not as relaxing as they say it is. Also, my spine is still fusing together.