Six months after our wedding, Reagan and I decided to go down to Hot Springs, Arkansas for a weekend get-away. The trip down was very nice and relaxing. We drove along forgotten highways through the Ozark mountains. Stopping at countless overlooks, taking pictures and dreaming about life with mountains.
Hot Springs, Arkansas is a very nice community in the middle of the state. It is famous for it's natural Hot Water Springs. There is a national park, right in the middle of the city, where dozens of springs release hot water. Reagan booked us a room at a famous Hotel, for a "romantic weekend."
Being who I am, I heard "National Park" and became excited. I was thrilled with the thoughts of hiking explorations and outdoor activities. Reagan, however, was thrilled about hot water, spring-fed baths. She asked if I was up for a "hot spring bath and a massage," and I was ok with it. Thinking back on it, I should have explored more into her question.
Saturday morning, after eating breakfast at a near by diner, we went back to the hotel for our bath and massage. Here is a picture of us before we had our sessions:
Look how happy I was. You just keep that in mind for the rest of this story.
Entering the doors to the bath house, we walked up to the counter to check in. The lady handed us our bath robes and a back-scrubber-mitt/glove-thing. Because the baths were segregated, Reagan went into one door, and I the other. I wouldn't see her until the event was over.
Problem #1: I wasn't with my wife.
I entered a little area where a gentlemen asked me for some information and guided me to a changing area with lockers.
"You can change into your bathroom and towel wrap in here. Put your clothes in this locker, and put the lanyard with a key to your locker around your neck."
Okay... I went into a little closet like structure with only a shower curtain hiding my pale-white-self stripping myself of my clothes and my pride. I put on the towel wrap and bath robe, exited the changing room and threw my clothes into a locker.
Problem #2: I was wearing practically nothing.
Let me tell you right now, so you know. I am uncomfortable in situations like this. In high school, I was involved in athletics. Even though I've seen guys play around in locker rooms, acting immaturely, I was still uncomfortable. I don't think it is every possible for me to be comfortable in a locker room in a bath robe and towel wrap, let alone buck naked.
I stood next to my locker looking around for a couple of minutes, looking around. A black gentlemen came in and introduced himself to me. He explained a little about the Arlington Bath House and about the waters used. However interesting all of these trivia facts were, I was still wearing nothing but a towel and a bath robe, in a foreign environment, with a stranger talking to me. Infact, it was more than just a stranger talking to me. He said he would be my attendant, and with me the whole time.
Problem #3: I wasn't alone.
I followed him into the main area, a 20 foot high ceiling shaped a room the size of a gymnasium. Foggy glass windows were letting in natural light from the north and west sides of the room. The smell of sulfer and some weird chlorine-mineral filled the humid air. We passed a bank of benches placed in the middle of the room, where piles of towels were placed.
We walked into a small entryway to what seemed, at first glance, to be a shower. The area was covered in musky white tiles, old and worn down, obviously there for many decades. He stood at the entryway while I walked passed him. After I entered, a normal sized bathtub, half filled with blue water, was in front of me. At the front of the bathtub, an old-fashioned whirlpool (the kind that look like a small outboard motor) sat silently still. On the wall, next to the tub, was an old analog clock.
"Is the water warm enough?" My attendant asked.
I reached down to the water and felt it's warmth. It seemed fine. "Yes, thank you."
"Good. Can I have you your robe and your towel?"
Problem #4: Some guy wanted me to be naked... In front of him.
Silence. I think ten seconds passed, with out anybody saying anything.
"Can I have you your robe and your towel?" He repeated.
I may have been quiet externally, but inside I was screaming my lungs out.
"Umm..." I said while I looked around, desperately hoping to make a run for it. The dude was blocking the only way out.
Problem #5: I couldn't escape.
"Can I have you your robe and your towel?" He stated, a little more firmly.
So, I gave in. Some how (and I don't know why I did), I was able to wrangle my mind into thinking "Well, you might as well just go for it." I took off my robe, and while facing him, handed it to him.
While he turned around to hang the robe and towel up, I jumped into the tub like white lightning, pale-naked white lightning. I sat down, placed my elbows on my knees, trying to cover anything that I could. My attendant came over, turned on the whirlpool, felt the water to make sure it was warm and confidently stood next to me.
"Do you want me to scrub your back?"
Problem #6: He asked to touch me."
"I'm fine. Thanks, though." My comfort zone was breached. I was trying not to pass out.
"Ok, I'll be back in 15 minutes," He said.
I nodded and he left. For the next fifteen I sat in the sulfer water staring at the clock.
He returned promptly at 15 minutes. While handing me my towel wrap, he said "Come on, let's go take your shower."
Problem #7: I didn't want to take a shower with him.
I stood up in the bathtub and while keeping the towel wrap in front of me, put it on trying to "contain" my innocence. This towel wrap is a man's towel wrap. Which means, it starts at the waste and barely makes it to the knees. I was still shirtless.
The attendant grabbed my bathrobe and motioned to me to follow him out of the bathtub room. We walked to the west end of the room where there were a bunch of small openings for showers.
Once again, he walked into an opening, I walked passed him, he closed the curtain, turned the water for a shower at the end of the small opening.
"Can I have your towel wrap?"
I gave it to him...
Then, walked to the shower, buck nakedly feeling violated. It wasn't sinking well with me.
"I'll be back in five minutes."
He left and I stood there in the water trying to think of anything else and praying that it would be over.
Five minutes later he came back and turned the water off. "Here is your towel wrap."
I put it on, then he came up to me, untucked the towel wrap. "Here, let me tighten it for you," and tightened the towel wrap for me
Problem #8: He touched me.
He handed me the bath robe and we walked into the big room, moving on to the next session, the dry sauna. He opened the door to an empty cedar room where benches lined the back. I sat against the side wall on the top bench (basically in the corner).
"I'll be back in 15 minutes."
After about five minutes, I was starting to calm down. I started to relax in a after-the-crazy-event-comfortable mind set. The door opened and guy about my age came in, wearing a bathrobe and a towel wrap, just like me. I watched him from across the room. He was obviously
more distraught that I was. He was shaking and mumbling.
Statements like "Why did I do this?" and "I'm never going to listen to my girlfriend again." came out of his mouth.
Then with a quick look over to me, he said "I have to get out of here."
He stood up, forcefully opened the sauna door and left.
"Well, I feel better." I thought to myself.
The rest of the time flew by faster than before. I was laughing to myself about the guy leaving.
15 minutes expired rather quickly, and promptly the attendant returned. "Let's go. It is time for your towels."
He led me to the benches of towels, asked me to lay down, took off my robe and exposed my back end to the world and laid about 50 hot towels on top of me. I was starting to become numb because of the weight upon me.
I laid there for as long as I could take it and told the guy I was done. He took the towels off, put my robe back on and I followed him into another room where I would get my massage.
To spare you an even longer story, my masseur reminded me of John Goodman. A big, jolly, hairy guy with monstrous hands gave me a foot, calf, thigh, glut and back massage (glut = butt). It was odd, in it's own way. But, I was already mentally numb and hard to amaze any more. I tried to enjoy it the best I could.
The massage only lasted 15 minutes. After that, I went back to the locker area and put my clothes back on.
I left my side of the bath house before Reagan. I sat in the waiting room for her, reading a magazine. She came out, and smiled.
"That was nice." She said. "How did you like yours?"
I responded, "Let's just say, I don't want to do that again."
There you have it, the most embarrassing moment in my life. (Thus far)