Friday, January 26, 2007

I'm a twist in the wind.

A friend of mine built a bath in Korea. It is a lovely luxurious huge bath, big enough for two people. I love this bath. Being in Korea means you are away from bathtubs. You give up a bath to come to Korea. You give up a lot to come to Korea. Some dreams, some fantasies, realities, friends, lovers, all things that get set aside so one can make an escape to Korea. You give up bathtubs to come to Korea.

I admit when I lived in the States I was not a constant bather. I liked a bath every now and then, especially if I had a bottle of brandy, some clove cigarettes, chocolate ice cream, good music and spare time. These things were perfect on a Wednesday night when you needed to just sort of vacate in the space of your own apartment with only a few hours to spare. It was not something I needed all the time but it was nice to have when I did need it.

Then I came to Korea. At first the constant showering in the middle of my bathroom did not bother me at all. While it was a little unusual to stand over the sink and watch in the mirror as you showered you do become a bit accustomed to it and just do what needs doing without thinking on it.

But after about ten months it started to grate on me, standing in my bathroom covered from floor to ceiling in tile. I wanted to reveal in hedonistic self service. I wanted to spread out in a tub and just be covered by warm water and let it wash away the sins and the fears and the madness that builds up with life. Nothing for it but the shower and annoyance at the lack of mindless escape. I experiment with candles and cigarettes in the shower, but I promise you it is not all it is cut out to be; for one trying to keep your smokes lit in a shower presents any number of challenges, and get me started on the candles. It’s a fun effect in a totally tiled bathroom, but sitting on a tiled floor and letting water run over you is a pale shadow of a good long bath.

I gave it up and when I really wanted a bath I’d hit a hotel. Most of the time the hotels in Korea have baths and so you could go and have a decent bath in a cheap love motel. If you were willing to spend maybe an extra twenty bucks you could get a cheap love motel with a Jacuzzi bathtub, and that my friends, is a happy wonder, but these are the sorts of baths you have to prepare well in advance of. You have to set in your supplies and lug them all to the room and then set up everything and hope against hope that there isn’t a smoke detector in the place. You might get a nice right bath or you might get ousted by the fire department. I enjoyed this for a long time until once when relaxing in a love hotel bathroom I found myself on the opposite wall of a very loud and violent dispute between two lovers that apparently was taking place in a bathtub and it put me off my fun for quite a long time.

Hopeful that the US might hold some bathtubs I’ve made trips there in recent years in search of a quality bathing experience. While I’ll confess to finding a tub in Chicago that I fell madly in love with I’ve been sorely disappointed with the bathing accommodations in other parts of the country. You would think there is no place you could go in the states without a bath, but I have learned on more then one occasion that there are places in the US that are just as bathless as the fair land in which I currently reside.

My friend, however, is very industrious and also a lover of baths. It was found that if one is willing to take the time and learn enough Korean that you can purchase here a large Rubbermaid sort of tub; the kind that you might actually expect to find in the basement of some Hell’s Kitchen apartment full of acid and dead bodies. These tubs are huge, heavy, solid, well made, and perfect for bathing if you have the space for it. I’d consider trying to find one for myself but alas my apartment is just far too small for it. This is why it is good to have friends.

The bath is large, lavish, and long to fill with hot water, but worth the wait. It sits on a sun porch which overlooks pretty mountain peeks and birds fly about the windows. The water is so hot I feel like I might boil and be dinner but this is the perfect time for such a hot tub. Open the window and clean mountain air flows in to even out everything and make one comfortable. Add some tequila, good chocolate, a book, a conversation with old friends, and you have a fine bath indeed. After a two hour soak you begin to wonder if you really gave up all that much after all, or if maybe you just learn to recreate all those things with a slightly more Korean style tint.

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