I now consider myself a survivor. A Korean spa survivor. Have you ever wondered what that experience is really like? Well, let me take you on a terrifying trip back to last Sunday.
The first thing to know about the Korean spa is that you can only go with a friend who is capable of staring at your boobs, vag, and ass crack (and vice versa), because you will be butt-azz naked in every activity you partake in together. Hopefully you’re as lucky as I am and have a friend who not only fits the aforementioned parameters, but has the same twisted sense of humor so you can both LAUGH YOUR BARE ASSES AND TEETS OFF.
There’s so much to detail here, such as the public Flashdance cold water feature complete with chain pull, the misty steam room that felt like walking into a giant fevery mouth, the cardiac event my friend almost had after going between the hot and cold pools, and the pink t-shirt and elastic pants (one size fits most) they make you wear in the co-ed areas, forcing you to completely become a middle-aged Korean woman. But I am going to focus my energies on the lethal scrub and “massage” (also known as the “breast massage.”)
No trip to the Korean spa would be complete without being scrubbed to death by a 65-year-old Korean woman wearing a silky black bra and panties. My curiosity has always been piqued: is a Korean scrubdown and massage as torturous as they say?
YES. YES IT IS.
My journey began by following my black lingerie woman down a wet hallway, past tables with trembling waterlogged bodies (survivors in the making). The walls of these stalls came barely halfway up, so there was no such thing as privacy. My lady pointed to our stall with its bright pink, shiny table, then turned to me and with cold, dead eyes said, “Face down.” I noticed a whole cucumber on the wall ledge, which seemed unsettling next to all these birthday suits. I hoped that I hadn’t signed up for the “penetration” upgrade. Before I hopped my nekkid body up onto the pink plank, she doused the table with a bowl of hot water that she had filled from a giant trashcan of water in the corner. I guess that was the sanitization process?
I lay down and my lady tosses a small towel over my head. “Ah so this is going to be execution style,” I thought to myself, but it actually proved to be helpful so that I could keep my wincing eyes, grimacing face, expletives and other coping skills hidden. At least one thing would be private here.
Then, my lady quickly and angrily dumped bowls of hot trash water on my back and legs. It actually felt nice if you didn’t think about where the water had come from. And then THWAP! She whipped a soaking wet towel onto my upper back. I almost shrieked like a gay. All I could think about was my friend who was receiving the same torture just a few tables away and I couldn’t stop laughing under my execution hat. WHAT HAD WE SIGNED UP FOR??
Next, I hear the sound of two pieces of sandpaper rubbing together in preparation for the bloodshed that’s about to come. I actually say a muffled OH SHIT under my head towel. But I’m also laughing because I can just picture my friend jumping off her table at first scrape and telling these people to fuck right off with their sandpaper persecution. She’s British, after all. But then I’m brought right the fuck back to my own impending doom as my freshly-shaven legs receive a thrashing that can best be described as level ten, searing pain. This tiny woman did not hold back – she violently scratched and scrubbed my legs, feet, back, arms, neck and ass as if I had sinned a thousand sins. This was not a body scrub, this was a de-lousing. I’m breathing heavily, gritting my teeth, holding on for dear life inside while also trying to leave my body when my lady says, “See?” I peer out from under my towel and in her hand, she has my skin – little shreds of it like if you grated a bar of soap. She points to the table and there are a million shreds of my person. The old me. We would now refer to my life as two chunks of time: Before Korean Spa (BKS) and After Korean Spa (AKS). The only thing that gave me solace was the fact that this would be over soon since my entire epidermis lay next to me.
Oh how wrong I was. This was just round one of round ten of being flipped over and re-birthed again and again. This chick furiously scrubbed every last inch of my husk until I couldn’t feel myself anymore. And when I say every last inch, I MEAN IT. Imagine someone taking sandpaper to your inner toes, the insides of your wrists, the sensitive and pale innards of your upper arms and then to your NIPPLES. YES, SHE SCRUBBED THE NIPS! Can you even imagine having the audacity to do that to someone?! Once again, I was in this place of horror and laughter, imagining my friend going through exactly the same massacre.
My lady slaps my ass and says, “Side.” I turn over, into the fetal position, which seemed fitting, except that my butthole was just like there for everyone to witness. “Please don’t get the cucumber, please don’t get the cucumber,” I prayed. The sandpaper mitts continued their unforgiving exploration, and then she swiped those things right over my crotch, like she was my mom and I was her potty-training toddler. “SHE DID NOT JUST SCRUB THE BEAVE?!” I say to myself. But she had!
There was a long period of intense slapping and blackout, and when I came to, I think I was in the “massage” portion of the service because I was covered in cooking oil. I had survived the sloughing. Glory to God in the highest and peace to His people on Earth. I lay there on my back, fully exposed, nips clean as a whistle. I look up at the wall ledge. Where did that damn cucumber go?? My lady spreads the oil on my legs and arms, and part of this was actually pleasant – although after the sins were shaved off of me in part one, a root canal would’ve seemed enjoyable.
My lady vigorously massages down my arms and hands and then comes up and makes an illegal turn straight down onto my breasts. Not beside them, but ON TOP OF THEM. Over and over, nips and all. Do you know how odd it feels to have someone do that?! Do that to yourself for a second and then imagine a stranger in lingerie – who is also a senior citizen – doing that to you in public on a wet mortician’s table. And I swear she spent a good ten minutes here despite there not really being a lot of ground for her to cover. She finally moved on and I said another prayer – give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us all over our boobs in broad daylight with oil and trash water…
When it was all over, I quietly rolled off the table, humbled and pink, and stumbled to find my friend who was showering and crying in the bank of sit down showers, which felt like a post-op recovery room. She had made it out before me, alive. Our eyes locked, like two naked POWs. I sat down next to her and we laughed so hard one of us fell off our stool and the other one peed.
The strangest thing is that I’m torn between never ever ever doing that again and maayyyybe doing that again. If you are a dark soul and like to laugh at pain for entertainment, I highly recommend it – especially if you bring a friend who’s as big of a freak as you are. If you are normal, then maybe skip it.