Meeting Strangers While Naked - A True Test of Courage.




                There was an ice machine outside the door to this sauna; the idea being that when you were in its toasty interior you would rub huge chunks of ice on your body to keep cool – an idea that was not all that appealing until you found yourself in a 189 degree steam room; I unashamedly had two fistfuls of ice and was using them to ward off the oppressive heat. For many the steam easily overcame their sense of calm within a few minutes, but if you were able to get around the feeling of drowning – try to remember to take slow breaths through your nose instead of huge gulping ones through your mouth – it is very peaceful.

                Around this time I realized that my appointment for my body scrub and massage were almost up and I excused myself to go check in with the – only clothed – lady over by the appointment board. I politely explained that I needed extra care taken with my lower back – boring story of an accident in college – and after leading me into the very orderly rows of plastic massage beds she reiterated my concerns to my masseuse in Korean; she looked like a kindly grandma in a lacy red bra / panty set.

                She nodded with concern; her brow furrowing in concentration as she stared at the part of my back that her co-worker was pointing at. She also reached out and firmly grasped my right buttock and pressed her thumb with unerring accuracy right onto the spot where my damaged nerve lay hidden in deceptive dormancy. She looked up at me expectantly. Yup, that was where extra care was needed, I nodded, wide eyed and silent with shock.

                I had been warned by Pixie Legs that this process was very vigorous – actually, she said it was liken to having your flesh peeled off –  and as I walked down the aisle towards my own bed I watched the women around me. Beyond the slight awkwardness of being naked – was that leg lift really necessary? – I didn’t see any evidence of flesh rending agony. Vigorous scrubbing, yes, but not anything so intense that I couldn’t handle it.

                My glasses had to go – that was a given – and as I surrendered them I had a brief moment of inner panic. I wasn’t going to be able to see what was happening to me. To those that are unfamiliar with this feeling or who might think it is a trivial concern, try it when you are naked, doing something you have never done before, with a stranger, who you are completely incapable of communicating with because you do not speak the same language.

                Now blind and naked I was instructed – mostly with physical prodding and pulling – to lie face down on the table. The detached sense of communication put me at a disadvantage that I was unfamiliar with; I felt distinctly like an animal that had to be physically pulled and handled. My grandma came back a few seconds later and started to squirt copious amounts of warm oil over my entire body. I could see – sort of – that she had on these little padded gloves as she started to work the oil into my skin. It was like being rubbed down with a Brillow pad. This wasn’t so bad. I started to relax into the rhythm of the strokes and tried to let my mind float away – perhaps back to my Applebee’s guy.

                Suddenly there was a set of determined fingers exfoliating my ass crack. My eyes shot open – not that sight was going to help now –  and a silent scream set my mouth into a wide “O” of horror, but I forced myself into a Buddha like calm as those same fingers lifted one butt cheek and then the other, exfoliating firmly under each cheek. Keep it together, keep it together, I chanted to myself in my head. This was probably completely normal, a common place thing in their culture – you would be amazed how many times I told myself this during the remainder of the experience. I could handle this! I’d have the smoothest ass crack ever!

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