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A lot of you (and when I say I lot I mean, literally, tens of people) have been outraged by how busy I’ve been lately. Well, sorry readers. Sorry that my schedule is jam packed with glamorous daily activities like going to work, learning improv, shopping for pillows online, waiting for my cats to use their new litter box, and various luxuries of the sort. I haven’t been neglecting my fans, I’ve just been caught up in that infamous New York hustle! Distracted by the grandeur of scraping by! Basking in the opulence of barely achieving homeostasis! “The internet misses you!” they all say. “Write a new post!” Well, assholes, the hate mail has grown tiresome. So tonight, I’ve decided to take a break from these instant grits I’m eating for dinner to give you an inside look at some of the perks of my VIP lifestyle. Then maybe you all will shut up.
I guess the best week of my life all started when I got drunk after work on a Friday night, causing me to oversleep for a very coveted and very necessary gynecologist appointment the next morning. I gasped out of a deep slumber at 10:53 AM, mere minutes from the time I was expected to check in, and immediately called Bushwick car service for one of their signature wild goose chases into Manhattan. By the time we arrived in the financial district about 80 wrong turns later, I had paid 30 dollars for a cab just to avoid a 50 dollar cancellation fee, and was frazzled to boot. Luckily, the doctor was still able to inspect my lady parts, by “squeezing me in,” so to speak. I left without a prescription or a solution to my problem, but I did have a list of directions on how to create my own boric acid capsules with supplies I could buy on Amazon. Oh, and I had a purple vagina. Don’t ask. I mean, whatever, I guess you can ask….She dyed it.
Massively hungover and overcome with irritation, I wandered up Wall Street drinking coffee and glaring at tourists. How could I be depressed on a Saturday? “Such a waste,” I thought. I pooped in a Korean restaurant.
After giving myself cornrows in the window of the Fulton Street subway station, I decided to go to brunch alone. I had a few hours to kill before improv, so I took the A up to Canal Street and got a table for one at Lupe’s. I ordered a taco salad. I watched my phone die, then left for class. I got caught in the rain. I bought a $5 umbrella identical to a $5 umbrella I had left at home that day. It immediately stopped raining. In class, my emotional slump, coupled with the digestive turmoil from the shrimp taco salad, left me powerless against my performance anxiety. That day at the UCB training center, I felt my soul leaving my body, I felt it watching my scenes, and I felt it heckling me. “Shut up!” my soul yelled at me during a game of Park Bench. “Sure, you’re being honest, ‘truth in comedy’ or whatever…but you might /honestly/ just be an asshole!” My soul is longwinded, and kind of a jerk.
I was in desperate need of some R&R, one of the R’s being Reid who, conveniently, was celebrating his birthday that very night. I walked home from the train with my new shitty umbrella and changed into a Very High Fashion halter top I’d bought the previous weekend at Forever 21. When we all convened at the Taco Factory, I poured my $12 champagne into little plastic cups, made a toast to my longtime friend, and finally unveiled the plans I’d been sitting on for a few weeks: For Reid’s birthday, that next day, I would take the two of us to Spa Castle, a 4 story spa in College Point, Queens with pools and saunas and hella other amenities, so I’d heard. We’d been talking it up for weeks as everyone around us raved about this mysterious palace. Coworkers’ relatives, friends of friends of friends who I’d heard had gone, they all said it was fantastic. I thought it the perfect gift for my friend and for myself, especially since the weather that day was going to be so nice. Sometimes being fabulous with a full-time job can feel like a square peg in a round hole, and I felt we were both due for some good old fashioned pampering.
The next morning, totally disregarding that it was Mother’s Day, I summoned Reid out of his hangover crypt (now available at Ikea!) to meet me at the intersection between our houses and call a cab to College Point. We met at Myrtle Wyckoff circa noon, when the sun was at its peak. I was wearing an American Apparel bargain bin skirt and my mother’s vintage Ralph Lauren one-piece bathing suit, because I’d never been to a spa before, and I felt like I should probably wear something Ralph Lauren. I also wasn’t feeling quite bikini-ready, physically or emotionally. (In fact, I’m still not. I’ve eaten so much junk since the last warm season that if you took a bite out of me I’m pretty sure I’d be filled with Boston Cream.) So there I was, in my Ralph Lauren, eating my usual cajun turkey, beef bacon, lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and colby jack cheese sandwich on a roll from the deli. The sun was singing my shoulders as I watched Reid “I Just Puked” Kutrow frown in a patch of shade, waiting for our cab to arrive. It had been 20 minutes since we called Bushwick Car Service. And then 10 more. And then 10 more since I’d called them again and they’d said “two minutes!” And then fifteen more since I’d called them and been like “UMM, hello??” and then ten more since I’d been on hold. There were people everywhere, scooting along with bouquets of carnations to take to their mother’s kitchens, and there we were, two sunburning dopes pacing and moaning in front of Duane Read for an hour now. I think I yelled “FUUUUCK” in front of at least 30 babies. I hate when I do that.
Eventually we ended up just hopping in an empty car that said Fenix on it. We were greeted with a laugh from the driver. “Ooh,” he chuckled, “you guys are lucky to find a cab today.” I love my mom, I mean really, really love her to the point that I wanna be her, and yet had no idea Mother’s Day was such a big deal.
Driving to College Point from Ridgewood was a much needed scenic adventure. The weather was perfect, and the prevalence of trees in Northern Queens made it easier and more enjoyable to breathe. I saw Citi Field. I saw the place where they print and ship out the New York Times (until then I had been operating under the assumption that the paper just somehow manifested out of the ether). The highways and gorgeous tree tops felt like I was fully leaving New York, and it only cost a $30 cab ride. Maybe it’s cliche, or maybe it isn’t, but my favorite thing about living in New York is leaving New York. And then, of course, coming back. Because nothing else is ever all that.
Pulling into College Point was a sight for the sorest of eyes. There were audible ooh’s and ah’s coming from the windows of our vehicle as we drove past a tricked out strip mall. They had a Target, a TJ Maxx, and an Offbrand Outback steakhouse in the parking lot called the something-something “Saloon.” If there’s one thing you know about me, readers, it’s that I am powerless to only two things: discount goods and bloomin’ onions. But those would have to wait.
We turned past my Middle American Mecca and ended up in College Point’s Korea Town. We pulled into a dead end driveway behind a large brick building, seemingly under some sort of construction. It didn’t look much like a castle, more of a Spa Best Western. But the sign hanging above us said we were in the right place, so we threw some money at the cab and walked around to the “front entrance.” The front entrance to spa castle is not unlike the bus loop at your local suburban high school, ie, it’s a driveway lined with townhouses and unfinished landscaping. Older overweight women exploded out of the entrance, many of them wearing identical yellow shirts, presumably signifying they were in some sort of church group. This was already looking amazingly unglamorous, but we didn’t really care. We were just happy to be out of Bushwick. To us, it looked like Versailles, if Versailles had signage written in Korean and a mandatory barefoot policy. After paying the $50 Weekend and Holiday entrance fee we were given wristbands that looked like watches in unimaginative colors indicating our gender (Reid’s was blue and mine was magenta) but instead of faces they had circular magnetic (or computery) sensors with 4 digit numbers on them. These were our locker numbers. The magnetic sensors would be used to open the lockers, and could also be scanned at service desks throughout the Castle in lieu of a credit card and our tabs would be settled at check out (purses, wallets and other such folly we’re not allowed past the locker rooms).
We passed through the rickety turnstile to the threshold of our respective locker rooms. “Bye!” We yelled to one another, not unafraid of what was to come. As soon as I entered I was hit in the face–BLAM–with the same old lady bodies as before, but this time completely nude. Naked women were everywhere, zipping in and out of rows of lockers like they owned the place. I just stood there, bamboozled and partly ashamed of my bashfulness and the naive concept of the female form I had once held in my mind. As per instruction of a sign in both English and Korean, and to my complete and utter chagrin, I took off my sandals immediately upon entering. I was barefoot on the same tile floor as hundreds of other ladies, who, pardon the assumption, did not seem to be hailing from the hygienic upper crust of society. Not that I’m a classist, I just think my mind would have been a little more at ease had I been in the presence of more pedicured toes and fewer ingrown toenails. I tried not to look at the feet. Or the fupas. And in the process didn’t figure out how to open my locker for about 15 minutes.
I kept my swimsuit on and left my iphone in the locker. All the women who weren’t stark raving naked were adorned in pink scrubs, the spa castle “uniform.” I tried to enter the bath section to sample the heated indoor pools and showers, but I was abruptly stopped. Apparently the low cut Ralph Lauren one-piece was far too much clothing for the bath area, as was any clothing at all. I was expected to share a jacuzzi tub with 5 other naked women, and not to shame any body of any form, but I just couldn’t stomach inhabiting the same body of water with a variety of strangers’ flappy unkempt pubic areas sans some physical barrier. I returned to my locker and put on my Uniform.
I walked up the stairs, barefoot and wide eyed, ready to see what the rest of the Castle had in store. I met Reid on the second level. His uniform, naturally, was baby blue.
The second level of Spa Castle is mostly chairs and tables, small dining tables and large coffee tables surrounded by benches, and a huge buffet piled with food I wouldn’t dare touch with a ten-foot pole. Heaps of cold noodles, iodine soaked shrimp from god knows where, and mounds of vegetables gleamed under the neon heat lamp. We vowed not to partake…despite the uniformed castle-goers circling the buffet in a hungry mob, we were pretty sure it was a 12-dollar trap. The second floor also had massage chairs, which we attempted to use but learned we had to purchase a ticket in the Spa Castle Starbucks first. We decided to get some water. What could be weird or confusing about that?
The water coolers in the Spa Castle “food court,” for lack of a better term, are just like your water coolers at work. Except instead of cups, the Castle provides paper envelopes for your drinking pleasure. Yes, envelopes. Like the paper bags your happy meal french fries come in, but only about half as wide. They had Korean writing on them, so the only way we were able to discern at first if we were actually expected to drink out of these was by watching the other patrons. Ok…wait for it…yep these are to be used as cups. They are rendered ineffective after about one use, so we just stood there refilling tiny paper bag after paper bag, taking shots of water. Custodians swept dirt and discarded vegetables into piles and took their time dust-panning them up. After about the forth envelope and narrowly missing a green bean and dust pile with our feet, we decided to check out the saunas.
The saunas were by far my favorite part of the experience. I’m not usually a fan of hot things, but we were extremely hungover so I thought this the perfect detox. Each sauna had it’s own little theme. There was the Infrared Sauna, the Salt Sauna, the Jade Sauna, Some Other Type of Sauna, and even a cold sauna for when you get sick of choking to death on your own perspiration.
After sufficiently sweating our asses off we were ready to move on to the pools. The rooftop pool situation was really what had attracted us to spa castle to begin with.
Of course, it was completely crowded to the brim. The main hot tub couldn’t handle a single additional person, and the pools were just like every other pool in the summer–overrun with children. The best part was the array of different water massage sitting areas dotted around the edge of the pool. There was one area in particular where two extremely powerful jets would crisscross behind you and hit each of your shoulder blades, nearly knocking you the fuck out. It was the least relaxing sensation on the planet, and hilarious to observe, as each person winced while having their back muscles torn to shreds and over-chlorinated water shot into their nasal passage ways. So far, Spa Castle was hilarious, disgusting, and …kind of great?
In accordance with this theme, the indoor pool and jacuzzi area boasted a swim-up bar and tables where you could enjoy your beverages while sitting in waist-deep water. Of course, this too had its downside. We waited at the waterbar for 20 minutes for virgin piña coladas while aggressive, drunk women berated the bartenders with an assortment of inane comments. The rest of the waterbar customers, groups of ladies who at first glance might be mistaken (or correctly identified) as the cast of Bad Girl’s Club, guzzled their daiquiris and littered the pool with corn syrup drizzle and empty cups. It was around this point I began to refer to our surroundings as Spa Toilet. After finishing our mocktails, fitting in an ample amount of girl talk, and catching a glimpse of the mop water they were using to clean the tile around us, it was time to get the hell out.
But not, of course, before taking a shower. I decided to brave the “bare butts only” section, based on the theory that a little shame was worth returning without a fungus. I shared a shower stall with a Korean woman who was hunched over a bucket and elbow deep scrubbing up her own ass with borax from a gallon jug. I stood there, completely visible to the naked bachelorette parties and clap-exchanges in the Naked Lady Jacuzzis. I left Spa Castle feeling dirtier and less refreshed than when I came in. But at least I’d had some LOLs.
And I had something else to feel good about as well. Spa weirdness or not, I had a steak dinner from the Something Something Saloon and a trip to TJ Maxx with my name on it. We ordered a bloomin onion to share and a Saloon Special for each of us. In a Saloon Special you get two meat choices plus a side for 17 bucks. So naturally, we got a rib eye and a rack of ribs each, with sides of mashed potatoes, and thoroughly cleaned our plates. We sampled the wears at TJ Maxx and called our mothers while browsing bargain cutlery. I bought a massively discounted Ralph Lauren down feather pillow and peeped the inexplicable abundance of Carolina Panthers memorabilia in the College Point Target. For a minute we were sure we’d entered a wormhole and had actually been transported to NC, but I also don’t really know what a wormhole does and we were clearly just delirious from our active day. At 8PM a taxi picked us up from the Starbucks next door.
I spent the following day battling a stubborn gas bubble, that towards the end of the night got so painful I was hunched over in the fetal position trying to get myself to poop. If this were Sex and the City, we’d transition scenes here with a V.O.: and from fetal position, to fecal position…. Cut to: me buckled over on a toilet with a thermometer in my mouth. I called out of work and guzzled ginger ale and club soda until I passed out. The next day, while burning through old episodes of Mad Men on Netflix, it happened. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I, Kat St. Kat, pooped the hell out of my pants. Laugh it up. I certainly did.
After 24 hours of hell had passed, I forced myself to suck it up (literally) and brave a day at work. That night, in my sleep, it happened again. If you’re wondering what it’s like to shit yourself twice in one week, just know the second time is not nearly as amusing.
This all happened a month ago, and I’m still not sure whether to blame the bloomin’ onion or my dip in the probably virus-ridden Spa Toilet. Since then I’ve really been working to get my dignity back. I hit the club a couple times to show off my post-stomach flu body (pretty sure I lost 3 pounds and gained back 10), and I had my first improv show this past Saturday. It wasn’t the best show ever, but it wasn’t the worst. And if I’ve learned anything from improv, it’s that worrying about your dignity is a waste of time. Even if everything goes to shit, it can still be pretty fuckin’ funny.