Monday, April 18, 2011

Platza in the Banya

Short Version:

Last Sunday, I was beaten by and then showered with a compact and sweaty Russian man named Dorian, who introduced himself to me as “The Devil.” There was alcohol involved. We were in a dark basement. It was steamy. It took me six days to not wince in soreness at every move.

The End.

Side note: I offered this short version since my brother likes to sigh laboriously and interrupt my stories to ask loudly, “IS THIS GOING ANYWHERE?” At which point I think about it, laugh, and realize I would have gone on talking for another 16 minutes straight, and no, it is going absolutely no where at all. But it’s good to get you on the phone. This almost counts as hanging out. I bet you don’t like abbreviated versions now, do you? Do you?!

Long, Painful, Insane Version:

I brought my friend to the Okeanos Spa for a Russian Spa day, including a ‘Platza in the Banya,’ a 90 minute massage and a shat of Russian wadka. When I bought this combined birthday/Christmas gift for her 6 months ago, I didn’t read too much. I was thinking, “Oh, Russians probably give hard massages. And Lauren always wants a hard massage. Ding Ding Ding!” After she unwrapped my classy computer print-outs, we read aloud what I had negligibly purchased and realized that one of our harder to pronounce treatments involved being hit with Eucalyptus oil soaked branches. She laughed and cold sweat snaked its way down my spine. I don’t do the whole pain thing all that well. I was already stressing out about a rough rubdown, and now we were adding lashings into the mix?

Cut to Sunday: The spa is downstairs from the street level, it is tiny and clean and authentic Russian accents greet us at the front desk. Our one size fits all robes and shoes amuse us both. Because there are only one of two scenarios that are going to play out. Either Lauren is going to look like a 10 year old trying on her mom’s clothes, or I am going to be flashing not only my masseuse momentarily. Thankfully for all parties involved, Lauren makes an adorable ten year old.

We get the tour of the 300 square feet, and our tour guide in lingering in the closed off middle section between the Sauna at 167 degrees, and the steam room, at around 12 million degrees. I can’t breath, Lauren is staring longingly at the door, and then we were allowed to leave and wait. So we hit up the bar, and were denied. I have to tell you that when a large Russian woman with a thick accent manning the vodka bar wont allow you to have your complimentary shot, don’t be angry at her. Be very, very worried. What it may possibly mean is that your “Platza in the Banya” means that you are about to have an entire spa treatment performed on you INSIDE the sauna. That really hot box of hell that masochists like to loosen up in. I am part Russian, so why can’t we loosen up with wadka? Nothing about being hit all over your body with soaked branches and leaves is bothersome, unless you are laying in a very public sauna, in half of your bathing suit, in 167 degrees. At that point, I don’t care if Brad Pitt is holding the branches, put that damned ice soaked hand towel over my face before my lungs melt, please. Dorian, “The Devil” was charming and sweaty and forced me into an open shower and soaked us both in ice water after twenty five minutes beyond melting temperature. How that man hasn’t had a heart attack already, I will never know. And why I warned Lauren not to let her do the same to her, I will never know that either. I am sorry Lauren, for depriving you of figuring that one out first hand. I think my heart was going out her at the time because when he asked which one of us was going in for the treatment first, she pressed herself so hard into the wall tiles that I had to step up. (This counts towards this year’s birthday present now, too.)

My massage therapist, Ping, was a Chinese woman. She told me she was from China three times. She had great hands and when my soreness goes away entirely, I might be crazy enough to sign up for a second go around. But there is something so disconcerting about your massage therapist walking into the room after she yells, “Don’t be shy and take everything off!” saying that she specializes in hair design. I am all about hair care professionals. Without the help of some people, I would be walking around with a fifteen inch Mohawk of frizz, and inevitably, drool would be dripping from my chin. Not that air has any effect on your saliva, but if I am going to look a certain way, I am committing, dammit! She went on to list all of the things she “Specializes” in. These things include, and I quote: “Hair Design, Hair Cuts, Color, High Light, Eyelash Extensions, Eye Lash Perm, Japanese Perm Straight, Relaxer Hair Extension, Brazilian Keratin Treatment, Up Do, Make up, Reflexology and all kinds of Wax and Massage.” I was impressed. I can’t even remember her list of specialties, let alone master any of them. But since I haven’t had a professional massage in over 8 months, I was kind of hoping to have someone who places their professional emphasis on Massage. She was great, r maybe I should say, as good as I can handle.

We ended the experience on a high note. When we were filling out the tip envelopes, we learned that “The Devil” had a real name. And Lauren thought she knew her Russian massuese’s name. She was sure it was like 4 or 9 syllables. And when the woman told us his name was Ivan, she just looked over at me and shrugged saying, “Yeah, I really did not know anything that he was saying. I couldn’t even tell him where to focus or how much pressure to use.” I know how to pick ‘em!

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