Here I sit naked, computer on my lap, in a Korean Spa in downtown Los Angeles writing this story. My butt cheeks are spread-out on top of a towel laid out on some pillow, legs together, outstretched taut in front of me so that no one can spot what they don’t want to see.
There’s flesh everywhere and this scenery finds me now in somewhat of a contemplative state. It’s towards the end of the stay and my head’s asking, “what’s the big deal about the body, anyway?” My body utters, “Hmmph!”
In the last four months, I have gained 12 Oompa Loompas plus five Golden Ticket holders. And, yes! That means Augustus Gloop too. I intend to get them all off of me.
Suffice it to say, I am not happy.
Okay. Well, there is the flipside.
I feel sexier, my wrinkles are lessened, and each boob grew one Oompa Loompa bigger. I shouldn’t complain. My 5’8” frame carries it just fine and my doctor says I look “great!” “You could easily gain a couple pounds more,” he says. “Sabotage,” I think.
Since I’ve been slender all my life, this has come as quite a shock to me. I mean, I’ve always felt the freedom to move through space on earth as I feel. ‘Til now I’ve always felt I could tumble with the tumbleweeds, fly with the birds, float gracefully like the swans, and swing like a monkey through jungles at supersonic speeds. At least that’s what my body has my imagination tell me. These days, though, these things won’t even cross my mind.
I had hints of something going awry a couple months ago.
It took longer to climb a mountain
I kept falling out of Tree Pose
I started stuffing myself into… rather than slipping it on
I clumsily hoisted myself into a sailboat. (After two failed attempts and a pair of wet jeans.)
The thump became much louder when I fell out of bed
Last month I sat in a chair at my brother’s house at a party. It broke. I fell to the floor. I joked that it was the moose I ate last night. Everyone laughed.
I thought it was over until during the long silence after the awkward laugh, a meek little voice spoke up.
“What moose?” my nephew asked. I had no choice but to have those Oompa Loompas step forward.
So just when it got to the point where I was feeling like I had just adopted my Siamese twin, I decided to buy myself a scale. I began tracking my weight.
Day 1 – plus 1 lb.
Day 2 – plus 1 lb.
Day 3 – minus 1 lb.
Day 4 – plus 2 lbs.
Day 5 – plus another 1
Damn it! Just get at least Augustus Gloop off of me! Pleeeeezzz!
I just don’t get it. Everything has been cut. Bread. Pasta. Cookies. Cake. Ice-Cream. Candy. Chips. I cut all this out long time ago. I go to the gym. Hike. Bike. And my walk-a-holic tendencies should account for something. At least one Oompa Loompa, anyway. Maybe even two, I would think.
What could it be? I started scouring my memory banks.
Well, I had chips two weeks ago. And then some more chips last week. There is this Australian licorice that I keep buying, not to mention the one time I messed up and ate the huge chocolate bar my friend made me eat after drinking three glasses of wine.
The chocolate crackled. That was cool.
But aside from that, the only vice I have left is my…
Okay. So, now what do I do?
I have to cut the White Wine.
What do they say in England?
So, just last week I cut the wine, quit buying the licorice, stave off the chips and ignore that accidental chocolate. I exercise a bit more, breaking two sweats a day instead of one, and now I’m feeling good. The more days I don’t have white wine the better I feel. I’m on a roll, and I’m just about to step on a scale when my sister texts me,
“The Korean spa this Sunday?”
Without hesitation, “Yes!”
Because I say, “Yes!” this keeps me off the scale because of the fear that will well up in my dreams of being totally naked at a Korean spa – all from knowing my weight.
I’ve gone one whole week without vices and I don’t step on a scale. I feel great and my imagination starts telling me that I may just be able to fly with the birds one day very soon.
So, I feel naked-worthy and now ready for my sister, her friend and the Korean Spa.
Sunday arrives and my sister’s friend picks me up. It’s only for a fleeting moment that I compare my teenage-mobile to her beautiful black Lexus SUV. I’m thankful she’s driving.
We drive over the hill, through the city and up to the Korean Spa. The parking lot is full.
In an effort to bathe all day in the denial of my “fat” feelings, I walk in there with the confidence of my old-slender self, sign in, slip off my clothes, and put on my robe. Two minutes later that robe drops off.
It’s naked time, ladies! Let’s do this!
The three of us first slip into the lukewarm pool, then climb down into the hot Mugworth Tea Bath, then a dunk into the cold pool. I’m not so ladylike. I feel like a monkey in the jungle; climbing with freedom in and out of pools of water. It feels so good.
The conversation between the three of us contains phrases like “here everyone’s the same,” and “so many shapes and sizes every woman is beautiful,” and “everybody is flesh colored everyone blends in together.”
I’m the leader of that conversation. I seem to get unanimous head-nodding.
No sooner did I finish leading the “everybody’s the same” brigade, than my sister’s friend lifts herself out of the pool.
“Perfect boobs,” I think.
I then notice a young woman scrubbing her body at the scrubbery trough.
“Nice body,” I think.
A masseuse steps out calling for number 89.
“No fat,” I think.
And in 3 minutes flat, my body grows out from monkey into ape bo
dy, and my mind and figure fight over the I’m okays and I’m not okays, while my soul is doing its best to pick up the bootstraps. They seem to be
just too heavy right now.
My body loses its posture.
I glance around at more bodies: Snowmen and Birds. Hourglasses and Sticks. Pears and Pineapples. Burlap sacks and Cheetahs. My head rationalizes, “all shapes and sizes.” My body scolds, “you can do better.” I really am having a tough time figuring out where my now ape body now fits in, if it really is an ape body or any one of those other types at all.
So I look closer. I measure myself up to others’ butts and boobs, hips and waists, tummies and thighs. This doesn’t give me food for thought. It only makes me concerned that these thoughts keep taking up space in my head. I don’t wanna worry about this so much.
So a search for a space for emergency reflection becomes urgent. I hop from sauna to sauna, steamroom to steamroom in an attempt to get privacy.
I sit in the tea-sauna room. It’s nice. But no privacy.
Sit in the steam room. It’s lovely. But no privacy.
I lay myself down in the Himalayan salt room. And before the sand of the hourglass runs out, the I-don’t-need-to see-what-you’re-showing-me girl steps out of the room. I am left there in private.
In an attempt to go back to being friends with my figure, I start to feel my belly. What does it feel like now? I suck it in. I feel like it should sink in. It always has. But it doesn’t. Is it flush flat? No, it’s not even that. What I do feel is an ever so slight miniature pitcher’s mound and it feels kinda firm and rubbery. “Well, that’s not so bad,” I convince myself. I could even talk myself into the mound as feeling sexy.
I look down my arms. “I’ve kept them fit,” I think.
I look down my legs. “I can see my toes point and my calves are still strong. I can still walk,” I think.
I clench my butt. “Yep! I still have some muscle holding that up,” I think.
Soon I relax into the notion that my figure is quite okay, and the space in my mind has now more room for pleasant thoughts.
A few minutes after the sand of the hourglass runs out, but before I feel faint, I pick myself up, walk myself out and my body regains its posture once again.
Then after one healthy meal and working on the starts of this story, as I’m exiting the spa, I feel like a monkey, and my imagination tells me I may soon tumble with the tumbleweeds again.
The very next morning I step on the scale.
I lost 3 Oompa Loompas.
Ciao for now!