From the Blog

Vegas: Ow, It Hurts

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Holy crap. It wasn’t drinking too much, or staying up until 5am. It wasn’t dancing or doing shots. It wasn’t the utter brain explosion from visiting the completely different planet that is Las Vegas. It was a nearly naked Korean woman that kicked my ass.

I was in Vegas this past weekend for my sister’s bachelorette party. She has friends that live in Las Vegas. One total slut dear friend came in from New Jersey, and a bunch of other girls drove and flew in from Los Angeles. We had ten girls coming from all over the place. I was the whitest of them all, coming from Portland, Oregon. I represent, yo.

This party was a bit non traditional, for Las Vegas. We stayed in a friend’s enormous house instead of a hotel. And we didn’t step foot on The Strip. We didn’t shop and we didn’t gamble. We hung out by the pool at our friend’s house, and drank girlie drinks made with white grape vodka and iced tea vodka. We are girls. We are allowed.

And Saturday before going out for our wild night, we spent the afternoon at a spa. Doesn’t this all sound good? This was an “adult” bachelorette party. I loved everything about this. I figured I’d hang out in a hot tub and get a massage, because I am chronically tense. I have abs of steel, except in my shoulders, not my abs. My shoulders and neck are practically frozen solid. Like, it hurts to turn my head to check traffic while I’m driving. So some hot tub and massage sounded fricken awesome. Why don’t more people get married, so I can get some hot tub action?

We ten girls spilled into the lobby of the spa and we all had to figure out what we wanted to get. Some gals were just paying a day fee and were going to hang out. I opted for a massage, but I noted that a salt scrub AND massage cost the same. I’ve never had a salt scrub. I know I have sensitive skin, but I thought I’d give it a whirl. It cost the same. Other gals were getting massages and salt scrubs too.

We were given towels and spa clothes and sent off to the locker room. We all brought bathing suits, and we were the only ones wearing them. The locker room was filled with naked Korean ladies. If this sounds tantalizing to you at all, stop. Imagine your grandmother as a short Korean woman. Then picture her naked. Dark hair, flat butt, droopy boobs. Off you go now, with that image.

And all the ladies in the spa knew what they were doing. Our Las Vegas host kindly showed us around. She had been here before. Hot tubs, check. Very hot. Dry saunas, wet saunas, one salt, one herbal, check. Lots of nakedness, check. Lots of showers, lots of places to sit and scrub. I saw ladies scrubbing the hell out of each other. Perhaps I should have considered this with a little more depth. But all I saw was naked butts and I didn’t want to scrutinize any further.

Our gaggle of girls drifted from saunas to hot tubs while we waited for our appointments. Some girls went to the lounge, where they had various dry hot rooms, a central hall with big leather chairs, and a cafe where you could order Korean food. Every room had a TV. There were TVs even the damp rooms with the hot tubs. There was a poorly acted, but strangely engrossing Korean soap opera on. Funny how you don’t have to know the language to identify bad acting. Bad acting is an international language.

I believe we were told to soak for half an hour before our massages. We were running a little late and we poked around the various rooms before we got in the tub. Holy crap, it was hot. My goose was going to get cooked in there. It was hot enough that it didn’t seem healthy to spend too much time in there. I didn’t know how I was going to be notified for my appointment. But then the order came: get naked and get back in the hot tub.

Huh. Naked. Righto. We’re all girls and everything. And I’m cool with strangers seeing me naked. But I had to spend the rest of the weekend with the bachelorette party gals. And I was the tallest and whitest one of them all. I was like a glowing beacon of whiteness. I was doing everyone a favor by hiding my blinding white ass in a bathing suit. But we all stripped off our wet bathing suits and got back in the tub. And then we waited. Again, I didn’t know what signal there would be for my appointment.

At some point, a stout Korean woman in a black bra and panties called out my number and motioned for me to follow her. I climbed out of the hot tub as non nonchalantly as the tallest, whitest, most naked person in a room could muster. She lead me into a room with a massage table that was covered in thick, clear plastic. She doused the table with water and told me to lay down. She didn’t speak much english.

And it began to dawn on me, she was wearing a black bra and panties. I noticed other ladies wearing a black bra and panties. I began to understand these ladies were probably all staff. But…black bra and panties? Again, I know this sounds like it might be kind of sexy. But please, don’t. Imagine a lunch lady from your childhood school. In black bra and panties. This woman was probably 5’5″ and built like a prize steer. She covered my eyes with a towel.

Okay. Maybe I should mention this was the most amount of time I’ve spent naked in front of other human beings who are not my future husband. And I was lying naked on a wet table, all white and hanging out. And I can’t see, but I know there’s a scantily clad Korean woman in the room with me. As she moved near me, I detected a faint smell of onions.

Did I mention I’ve never had a salt scrub? I heard her snap on some gloves. Um. Not always the most friendly sound. She poured some water over me. She grabbed a handful of salt and spread it around. Then she took hold of one of my legs and began scrubbing.

Oh. My. God. I’ve never had a salt scrub, remember? She was wearing some kind of gloves that had an abrasive surface. And she scrubbed. And she scrubbed. And she scrubbed. She went over and over and over the same spot on my leg until it felt like tattoo pain. And I just waited and waited for her to move onto a different area, so I might walk out without my muscles and tendons exposed. But she went on and on and on. Each leg, then an arm, then back to that same leg, then someplace else. She went over each leg at least three times.

Mercifully, she was a bit less rough with my more “tender bits,” but not by much. There was not one place on my body where that woman didn’t put her hands on me. I barely touch myself in some of these places. And she scrubbed everything down like I was a rusty Chrysler. Holy good lord.

It seemed to last an eternity. I had a towel over my eyes, which hid my squinty, pinched, agony face. I opened my eyes at one point, and there was wadded up balls of muddy skin covering the table. Ew. I couldn’t believe how much there was. That was all my skin that had formerly been attached to me.

She instructed me to go shower. I was woozy. I rinsed off at a shower nearby. I still had some epidermis left. She hosed off the table and called me back in for my massage. This was the real reason I was looking forward to the spa. Now I wasn’t so sure. I explained as best I could that my shoulder is giving me trouble. I was almost hoping to have her work on it a little, but there was too much of a language barrier. I just explained that it hurt.

Soon enough, I realized this wasn’t going to be a “relaxing” massage. I lied down on my stomach and she squirted my back with oil. It smelled like olive oil, but I could have been delirious and imagining things. She slapped her hands down on my back and went to work.

Why? Why did I want to do this? Why did I think this was going to feel good? She leaned her weight on her forearms and steamrolled over the muscles in my back. They all snapped like taut piano wires. All those sickly, super tight muscles. Hard stones under my skin. It didn’t seem like my back loosened at all as she worked. It felt more like my muscles shrank, tightened up, and retreated.

Then she leaned in with her elbow and tracked a channel between my shoulder blade and my spine. All those muscles pinched and snapped and she rolled over them. It was like torture. The spa was quiet, but I yelled a little. She moved to my neck, she spoke the only words I heard from her through the whole massage, “Neck very tight.” Surprisingly, it didn’t hurt as much when she worked on my neck.

She moved onto my lower back and my butt. I have to say, my butt can take a good massage. I’ve got an ass for massaging. However, I wasn’t expecting her to slap my ass. But she did. Great big oily slaps on the ass. It gave a resounding echo through the quiet spa. I was a little embarrassed.

The rest of the massage was pretty standard. No intense agony like my shoulders and back. She gave me a cucumber mask on my face, which I’ve never had before. I liked it. It felt good to have something chilled on my face after all the steam and heat and scrubbing and screaming earlier. She washed my hair and sent me on my way.

I guess people do this all the time. Salt scrubs and torture massages. I do have to say, my skin is softer than it has ever been in my life. It’s nice. I don’t know if I’ll do a salt scrub again. But I like the results.

The aftermath of the massage is that I was nearly immobile after. It wasn’t the dancing or the drinking that killed me in Vegas. All of those things were fun. More fun than I was expecting. I was the oldest person in our group of girls. I was glad I didn’t fall asleep in the club as the youngsters partied it up. My sister had a great time.

It was the little Korean woman that kicked my ass in Vegas. It still hurts.


  1. Mrs D in Oregon says

    That is a great photo, is is post scrub? Heather, you write so well. I don’t remember any longer how i got over to your blog but I’m so glad i did. I had a friend go to Korea and have an experience just like you describe so I guess you had ‘the real thing”. ALSO, have you seen the Mad TV parody of Korean drama? Hilarious:

  2. Wow…I think I need a cigarette after that!!!!
    Your sister is a pretty girl.

  3. “And she scrubbed everything down like I was a rusty Chrysler” – bwah-ha-ha-ha. Is that you in the photo after the scrub down or before? Because you both look very glowy

  4. Tracy Thomas says

    Hilarious… I noted the part about your neck/shoulder pain and how it hurts to turn around to check traffic… I had the same problem about a year ago, and a friend recommended Clearwater Clinic. They do chiropractic and sports therapy care. I saw Dr. Baisinger there. It took a few sessions to make the pain go down to the point where I could turn my head without it hurting. I still have more stiffness in my neck than I think I should, but it’s way better now. They do a whole body assessment to try to determine what else might be causing the pain – analyzing all the connected parts. It might be worth a try for you.

  5. Meredith says

    Wow. I kind of forgot how painful you said it all was. Tattoo pain brought it all back. Wow. Steph even took muscle relaxers and a hot bath and STILL called into work Monday. I feel blessed for not having a single sore muscle after my, as Steph said, Ninja masseuse worked on me. Intensely painful during but okay after. I hope you remain super soft for a while. Might take years for your skin to grow back. And to think, the club wasn’t the worst part of the trip, it was the crazy monkey Korean women, walking over our bodies that will leave a lasting impression!!

  6. Thanks, everyone. My sis is a cutie, isn’t she?

    This photo was post-scrub. I’m still a bit pink, but also still white at the same time.

    I don’t think the massage was *supposed* to be that painful. But it reminded me that my shit is busted up. I probably need exercise, maybe yoga, definitely drugs.

  7. Heather–I can’t speak for Korean massages, but I did once have a deep tissue Swedish massage that WRECKED me. For months.

  8. What a great story. Detailed, funny and with a photo of two beautiful women, it had every thing!

  9. Marianne says

    Heather- I have had 2 massages in my life and both have been great experiences however, I am very cautious because it is not my thing. I am very proud of you for what you endured. I laughed so hard I cried reading about it! Let me know when you are ready again and we can go for a spa day Portland style :) ( I promise, you will not have to see me naked.)

  10. stephanie says

    wow, what a great description. that whole experience just replayed in my mind. yes, I had a ninja monkey massage me and I paid for it for a couple of days. my friend had to bring me some heavy duty muscle relaxers to help and I called outta work and tried to sleep it off. I has such a great time regardless of how I feel now and have thought about trying to find a Korean spa like that out here in jersey. thanks for the laugh…

  11. @marianne…Sounds great! I have a sister-in-law! Yay!

  12. OH MY GOD. hilarious!!! I have heard about the dreaded korean “spa” experience. Some friends used to go to Koreatown in LA and do this every month. I wanted to join in. One of the girls took me aside, alarmed by the dreamy look on my face, and explained how a korean spa experience goes. I decided to pass.
    If you ever come visit me in Redding, darling, I will give you a salt scrub, with a delicious creamy, fine grained salt that does the job, but doesn’t leave you feeling like you were too intimate with a cheese shredder. and a relaxing massage that won’t leave you crippled the day after. hilarious.

    the naked thing… hilarious also. I fondly remember my first “naked” spa experience. Imagine being naked, in a room full of sturdy naked russian-type women’s, crab-walking my way across a huge vat of volcanic mud, to gingerly lay on top of the mud. And wonder what that hot mud was going to do to my “intimate bits” that were so vulnerably exposed…

  13. I love this story!

  14. Whenever I take my kids to the community center for swim lessons, I have to gear myself up for what I’ll see in the women’s locker room. Oh, my eyes. MY EYES MY EYES MY EYES.

    In other news: You are brave / crazy. :)

  15. Heather, you are awesome.

  16. I loved your story and posted a link to it on

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