SILENCE HAS A NAME - Poetry Chapbook and CD, with Music by Mark Hanley

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Local Spa

This past Wednesday a deadline at work had me so wound up I actually only gave myself "bathroom breaks" away from my computer, and found myself knoshing on cashews from a nearby bag, only because I had seconds to kill while my pdf files "saved." No lunch for me. At the end of the day, all I could think was, "Get me to a spa!" So, there I went.

Never, ever, ever threaten to cancel an appointment with the spa lady because the time has come for your "scrub," but no one has arrived, yet. At that stressed out moment, one minute past the hour was too much to wait. I announced I was leaving just as my scrub lady arrived, diva-ready in a black lace bra and panties. Throwing up her hands, she moaned in dismay at the news that I had planned to chuck the appointment with her. I followed her into the "pool" room and she pointed to a table covered with pink plastic on which she doused tepid water while gossiping about me in Korean with the neighboring scrubber, busy at a nearby table. Both of them were going on about my outrageous behavior, repeating to one another, "oh my god, oh my god." It was definite. I was headed for a doosey of a "scrub." She snatched my towel.

The "scrubber," no more than 105 pounds, had hands like the jaws of life, and used them instantly and vigorously upon the tenderest parts of my body, pummeling my peanut-laden stomach, then chest, legs and arms. I mean, pummeling: How-Dare-You-Threaten-To-Break-My-Appointment. I could feel the wrath of Ms. Lee on my limbs, and thought, oh, what the hell, the poor people in concentration camps had it worse, closed my eyes, grabbed the rag that had been placed behind my head, and placed it over my eyes to quell the blinding overhead lights, and keep myself from seeing what would be done to me.

Ms. Lee pummeled and smacked, pummeled and smacked, flipped and bent my legs into unfathomable yogic contortions, then flipped me over onto my stomach. Then came the actual scrub. She scrubbed so hard, I thought my skin was going to sail off my body. I wondered when it would all end. Finally, after what felt like an infinity of time, I was told to aim my body in the opposite direction. Ms. Lee dragged me across the wet plastic so I almost flew off the table. She applied brakes by grabbing hold of my head. "Let go head," she said, then dropped it on what felt like an iron rung at the table's edge -- one last reminder, for good measure, never to betray a scrubber. I had oil applied to my body, and I remembered how in Africa, among certain tribes, that is the procedure before you are branded. Then Ms. Lee pulled me like a doll by the waist to a sit up position and hoisted my arms, further back than I thought they could ever go, breaking something in my upper shoulders and neck. Tension, I think it was. I had warm water tossed all over me. Then she patted my cheeks, like I was a cute child, and slathered my face with the scrub for me to remove at my leisure. Then she came up close to my face, smiling big. It was over.

I proceeded to take my pores that must have been more open than the Grand Canyon over to the Sandstone Sauna, then the Amethyst Sauna, where I gazed up at those beautiful stones and imagined they were all mine, then the 130-degree sauna, where I sat alongside amorphous shapes covered in wet towels and burlap sacks to stave off the intensity of the heat.

After all the beating and broiling, I decided it was time to eat, and had what felt like the finest meal of my life. The first meal after a long captivity. Hard-boiled eggs, Soba noodles, and a variety of other hot and tasty small plates that made eating tastefully impossible. I sipped, slurped and sucked to my heart's delight, wondering what it would be like to spend 24 hours in this place that is indeed open around the clock. There were bodies stretched out everywhere, some snoozing in obscene positions on the incredibly comfortable leather chaise lounges before wide HD screens, where only entertainment such as golf and soccer played. And a Korean version of Idol, where contestants sang incredibly beautifully to songs that sounded like famous pop tunes from America's 60s. I passed a game room with tables for chess, pink and leather lounges; experienced the gold sauna, which oddly, did not make me feel rich, just greedy; dipped into the tea pool and the hot pool; then showered away what remained of my skin and life.


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