Squeaky McClean

I’m sitting in Water Canyon eating a spinach and walnut salad, sipping a jasmine tea, and sitting to some pretty good music being belted out by a songwriter passing through town (Corby Lanker?). Bella and Dawkins are hanging out with their friends at Denny’s for a post-promotion dance debrief over dessert and so, I get a brief moment of respite at a local cafe.

I love this: chilling in a cafe by myself – although in a town as small as this, there is no such thing as “by myself.” I’ve already run into two long-time friends: finagled a trade for my weight machine with one, and said my good-bye’s to the other. It’s only now hitting home that I am going to be leaving the hi-desert in a few short weeks. I started to panic about having make to new friends – and then I realized that I already know some great people down by the beach: Chad’s sisters! Talk about ready-made friends.

Last weekend I went a Korean bathhouse with my three future sisters-in-law: Lisa, Corrina, and Asia.

It is important to make a distinction between a Korean bathhouse and an American-style spa; a Korean bathhouse is not about being pampered and indulged, but the utilitarian concept of getting clean, very clean – perhaps cleaner than you ever imagined you could be. Now, I have only been to a Korean bathhouse a half dozen times, but no matter the city, Sydney, Seoul, or LA, the experience is virtually the same – and deeply infused with Korean culture.

The Olympic Spa in Koreatown is no different. Despite the (free) valet parking and all the beauty products lining the reception, it is a no-nonsense place. To use the spa facilities (all day if you like) only costs $15. The classic Korean scrub is an additional $30 and lasts for 20 minutes. A reservation is recommended, especially on the weekends. We had reservations for noon, so we arrived early to soak.

Once we paid, we were given a key chain with two keys and a number. To enter the spa, you must pass through a series of spaces, gradually shedding clothes and the grime of the outside world. Just past the reception desk we pushed passed thick, wooden double doors and entered a small vestibule with woven matting on the floor. There are small wooden numbered lockers lining two walls from floor to ceiling. These little locked cubby holes were for our shoes.

In bare feet, we padded into the main “dry” area. In front of us, robed women were lounging on a big leather sofa drinking barley tea or resting on a large heated marble-lined stage. We headed to the lockers to our far right. There was a clean towel and robe inside each locker. We stripped down to our birthday suits and donned our light cotton robes.

to be continued…

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