Warning: This blog is my most revealing to date. It is raw and vulnerable. The naked truth. Proceed with caution and be gentle. Pray you don’t see me any differently when you are done.
Disclaimer: This is a bit more lengthy than my average entry. Just bare with me.
Aunt Barbara might be the most persuasive woman in the world. Not just in the Northern Hemisphere…in the world. When I was 12 years old I went with her to the Oregon State Fair. The only parking spot we could find was a small patch of grass between two haphazardly parked cars. Her solution? To hop in the stranger’s car that was preventing our parking progress, put it in neutral and push it forward till our parking needs were accommodated. She can even get a parked car to do what she wants! This would explain why she was able to convince me to come face to face with one of my most debilitating phobias–nudity.
I am the woman in the locker room who does not remove her towel even to shower. I get creative. I am uncomfortable revealing my humps and lady lumps. I don’t really want to observe the markings of my motherhood, or the scars that have come from multiple organ removals. The giant vein from hell that is invading my lower right quadrant is something I would like to ignore. It is far more fun to pretend that my body is a wonderland and a towel is my little red pill.
It was Dec. 20, approximately 10am, when I sat down at a long wooden table with some of my favorite women in the world, my mom, my cousin Sue, Aunt Nancy and Aunt Barbara. It was there and then Barbara dropped her voodoo magic on me.
“Get ready honey, cause we are going to the naked spa.” It was as if she had monochromatic spinning tops for eyes. Every fiber of my body, every nervous limb, screamed HELL NO, WE WON’T GO! And yet, as if hypnotized, I said, “okay”. She had put me in neutral.
The Olympus Spa is located in beautiful downtown Spanaway. It is surrounded by spacious parking lots, Asian specialty shops and is conveniently close to the B&I. Location, location, location. Mom and I arrived fashionably late and collectively nervous. Neither of us were particularly comfortable with the concept of communal bathing, but we were nonetheless ready to ave’ a go, not wanting to squander the generosity of Aunt Barbara.
We were warmly greeted by the friendly Olympus Staff and given a tour of the facilities. The warm marble floors and tranquil sound of silence intrigued me. We were shown all the luxurious amenities: the salt-room, the mudroom, the dry sauna, the steam room—little dens of serenity. My anxiety was briefly pacified by the anticipation of peace promised. We were handed thin, hospital grade robes, soft white towels and informed that we had exfoliation and massage appointments in the hours to come—we would also need to “soak” for one hour before their commencement. Then it hit me… I would soon be naked. I put on my robe and clung to it like bones cling to flesh. Without it I might die.
Just then Aunt Barbara and Aunt Nancy came bursting out of the mud room, guns blazing, stark naked and just happy to be there. They were free birds, soaring about in the nude. My sweet mom looked at me knowingly, in an attempt to reassure me that our liberation was just around the corner. I was not so sure. They could see my panic, but the clock was ticking and it was time to get “soakin”. We headed to the poolroom…the hall of nakedness…land of the robeless.
I feel, at this time, it is necessary to add this caveat for all my male readers.
The naked spa is not a gathering of super vixens with legs that don’t quit and anti-gravity breasts giving each other neck massage. Instead, there are women of all shapes and sizes represented. Some are 300 pounds with legs that quit after ten minutes. Some have breasts as large as human heads. Some have no breasts at all. Some have skin conditions. Some are 90.
As I entered the pool area my panic peaked. It was time to get naked. I stood there gripping the flimsy strings of my robe like they were harnesses preventing my eminent demise. It would take the jaws-of-life to get that thing off me. The room was filled with birthday suits and the air void of self -consciousness. Which was why I stood out like a nun at an erotic bakery. My beloved family made every attempt to embolden me but their humorous encouragement soon morphed into genuine concern as I began to cry. Even Master Jedi Barbara was no match for this phobia. The force was strong with me, but I could not seem to let go of my fear. Barbara began to pray…but unfortunately things went from terrifying to unbearable for I discovered…the exfoliation room!
It looked like a gynecological experiment from hell. Naked women lay prostrate on what looked like operating tables, being scrubbed violently from head to toe by small Korean women with oven mitts, before being doused repeatedly with large buckets of water.
Mom witnessed my discovery and collected my hand in hers.
“It’s okay honey. We’re okay. You’re okay. Let’s soak.” She said with a nervous smirk, knowing it would take a miracle to get me on that table. I was no parked car I was a jumbo jet.
We looked for the tub with the lowest population. Mom bravely entered first. My immersion however, was not so courageously executed. A robust older woman, with a thick gold chain around her neck and smudged garish make-up approached me with an air of empathy and concern.
“I was just like you my first time too, now I come here everyday. It makes me feel so clean. You’ll be walking around without that robe in ten minutes. You just gotta get in there honey.” She said with a gentle shove.
There was so much wrong with what had just happened that I could not find words to respond. I just stood there immobilized, bewildered, and deeply disturbed.
“C’mon hon, just get in there!”
Before I knew what was happening, my harness, my lifeline, my shroud was whisked away by the lipstick clad jaws-of-life.
I dove into that tub like go-go speed racer and swam to the corner to seek solace in the jets. I clutched my knees to my chest in an attempt to keep all orifices tightly under wraps. My poor mom was also stunned by what had occurred and sought to comfort me with humor and tenderness. Though her efforts were valiant and appreciated, I knew why I was marinating in that pool. Soon, I would have no water to hide my form, just a couple of roving oven mitts.
For the next hour I hopped from pool to pool with the moral support of my mom, who would stand waiting for me with a towel at each exit, like I was James Brown. Noting my neurosis and the looming skin care appointment, my cousin, Sue, attempted to make a private appointment for me so that my exfoliation would not be quite so public. But her efforts were in vain. The clock struck 1. It was my turn.
The Exfoliation Room
“Hello, my name’s Patty. This your first time?” She was kind and observant.
“Yes. In fact, I was wondering how you would feel about me keeping this here towel on me during the process.” I said humbly.
“ How bout I give you this.” It was a hand towel. I was noticeably disappointed but grateful.
“Oh you so shy. You be fine.” I wasn’t fine. I laid there, whimpering, on my belly with a hand towel partially covering my posterior. The exfoliation had begun. She scrubbed me like a cleaning lady scours an oven. She was fast and furious and thorough. Where there was skin, there was exfoliation. I closed my eyes and tried to find a happy place, but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t decide on a destination.
Just then, I heard the distinctive tambour of Aunt Barbara’s voice in the distance. I decided to open my eyes to trace the sound. I looked up slowly and…
They were everywhere. Fearless vaginas. I couldn’t escape. I buried my head into the table, mortified. It was time to turn over. I gripped the sides of the table and held on for dear life. Patty kindly placed the sacred hand towel over me like a fig leaf and continued her work. I used the ceiling as a focal point, as if I were a woman in labor giving birth to softer skin.
Then, something wonderful happened. Patty collected warm soapy water in a bucket and poured it over my new and improved epidermis. Warmth overwhelmed me. I opened my eyes…and smiled.
It was a miracle. I was comfortable. Happy even.
The aquatic blanket was heavenly. Then came the oven mitts. Patty moved her magical mitts in quick circular motions over every inch. PATTY! PATTY! PATTY! I didn’t want it to end. For a moment, I did not feel naked, I felt new. She wrapped my security blanket (robe) around me and sent me on my way.
It was a little victory. Little Patty had pushed back this jumbo jet. And although I didn’t summit Mount Olympus naked, I did gain some altitude. And sometimes…that’s enough.
Words of the day
Dag: a down to earth gal.
Spit the dummy: Get upset
Patty really knows how to handle a dag that spits the dummy!
Sydney is home to a popular Korean “naked” spa, known as the Ginseng House. I don’t think I’ll go.
Do you have a phobia? Tell me about it.
Song of the Day
I’m a Jumbo Jet and I’m Okay