A very nice Mexican woman in mom jeans showed us around. Here are the locker rooms. Over there is the changing area. That's the shower. Make sure you shower! And through these doors are the hot springs. Enjoy!
My mom padded to the door in borrowed flip flops, the window made opaque from so much steam, and cupped her hands against the glass to peer through.
"Lena!" she stage whispered. "We didn't even bring our bathing suits or anything." I joined her at the window and told her to take a harder look.
"Mommy, everybody in there is booty butt naked." That's when my mother shrugged and began removing her clothes, excited to enjoy her sixtieth birthday present--an afternoon at a Korean day spa--in her actual birthday suit.
For those not hip to game, Korean day spas are magical baths reknowned in the greater Los Angeles area for their budget-friendly bare bones spa treatments and even skimpier dress codes. Guys, I had a woman wipe my wet butt cheeks for me before kneading those bad boys with her elbows like dough. I said, "thank you very much" and waded back into the hot spring with nothing between me and the near boiling water but the babbling sound bubbles make.
Does it surprise you I grew up in a naked house? We weren't nudist or anything but staying in your "outside clothes" after the school/work day was through was considered weird to us. We walked around in robes, towels, or maybe a long tee shirt if it was cold outside. But never like a three piece suit, with shoes and socks and a top hat as I've witnessed in other people living rooms.
My mom's philosophy was/is that your home should be relaxing. And what's more relaxing than lounging about sans culottes?
To this day my grandmother likes to say I don't like being boxed in. "Lena never did like putting on clothes," she told my boyfriend on our last trip to California. The issue of my childhood nakedness, she says, came to a head when we all took a family trip to Jamaica in 1984 and my mother let three-year-old me run around the beach in the bathing suit Jesus Christ Superstar gave me. Apparently one of my aunts was so scarred, so scandalized that when we mentioned taking another big family trip sometime soon (some THIRTY years later) she demurred.
Maybe my comfort with going sans clothes is because it was always just me and mom growing up. I didn't have a father, or brothers, or any male eyes all up in my personal space so I felt free of most of the social conventions that tell young girls that their bodies are shameful, ugly or need fixing.
And before anyone gets all Law and Order SVU on me, I'd argue that my mother's reinforcement of being comfortable in one's own skin in the privacy of one's own home (or a public beach) made me even more fiercely protective of my own body when I was a kid.
Same thing goes for the bevy of beauties getting their butt naked on at Beverly Hot Springs off Western in Koreatown. Everyone there seemed completely present in their body. With every sigh or crack of the neck, there was a feeling of ownership and perhaps even homage that goes along with the simple act of being naked around other women who aren't dissecting you.
Know what I noticed most about most of the bodies I saw? Skin. Whether they were cut lean or layered like a delicious birthday cake, every woman in there had milky, mocha or some mix of type skin that you could get lost in. No one wonder men (and women) like staring at us naked. We look goooood.
I almost felt bad having to drag my mom out of the sauna, where she sat (ta-tas out) having a tête à tête with a naked stranger who she gave my card to. Apparently this woman is a writer and my mom thought we could "connect." She also did this once with a guy she met at Ikea who was apparently "very well built." That's my mom, a woman who lays all her (my) cards out on the table as it were. She is "naked" even with clothes on and I want to be just like her one day.
So, nakedness. Into it? Weirded out?