I returned to the Aroma spa today, and I was late. You know when you are in LA and you are just trying to go to Koreatown, like 10 minutes from my house, but in LA Friday Traffic Time, which are like the DOG YEARS of drivetime, it can take you – well, a lot longer.
My incident last week there, which I wrote about here caused quite an uproar.
Lots of people were angry about things, mostly proud of me for speaking up, angry that I had been mistreated (while naked no less), but some mad because they felt I was being ‘full of myself’. I might be full of myself, but I would much rather be full of YOU baby – that’s my misguided attempt at responding to hatred with flirting.
Anyway, anyone who criticized my body last week just hear this – you who are without stretch marks, cast the first stone.
Sometimes I want to respond to people who say, “I read what you wrote and you are disgusting.”
Me: First of all, congratulations! I didn’t know you could read! Well, read this – FUCK YOU
But I don’t do that, at least I try not to.
People who hate my body don’t realize how much I love them, as they are in pain, and direct it at me because they don’t what else to do with their pain, so they want me to feel it. If you hate me, please continue to, and maybe the hate will come out of you enough where you will one day be happy. I will take your misery and turn it into poetry. I am like the Soymilkman of Human Kindness, like my hero Billy Bragg, but I am lactose intolerant.
I bowed so much when I finally arrived at Aroma Spa and Sport, and the whole staff came out to greet me. The sweet manager who had to deal with the tough job of negotiating with some irate Korean women who were terrified of my body and then who had to come to ME and talk to me about it – a bad situation for her and everyone involved – was there to help me. She apologized again, and thanked me profusely for returning to the spa, without hard feelings, without anger, but with lots of clogged pores that needed extractions.
Everyone was so nice to me in the spa, women even coming up and complimenting my tattoos and smiling and friendly. I wondered for a moment if they had closed the spa for the day and hired a bunch of actors to play the parts of Korean women bathers, but I actually recognized some of the faces – some of the same women who had judged me so harshly the previous week, those mean ladies, came up to me, with kindness and curiosity in their eyes. I sat in the sauna and watched golf and wept.
The treatments were remarkable, and although they tried to stop me from giving them any money, but I forced about $50 on them, as I am so Korean, and I can fight over a check until the police and ambulance are called and the golf clubs are out and swinging at heads. Sometimes the fight over the check at Asian restaurants is so intense, one family will leave in the squad car, one will leave in the ambulance, but I know whichever emergency vehicle I wind up in, I am going to be the one to pay. That is the winner. Winners pay.
I thanked them up and down, bowed like 100 times, and we took pictures together to post on the Aroma Facebook and my Twitter. I told them that it’s hard to be a Korean American comedian sometimes, because for me, as I work in an industry where there are not many who look like me and do what I do, and I grew up in this showbiz world, feeling alternately hated then invisible for my inability to fit in, and then I go to a place, where everyone is like me – looks like me that is (ok just in the face, not in the tattooed body) and they seem to hate me, I feel so lonely, as if there is no place for me in the world at all.
Also, the jimjilbang, Aroma Spa in particular, reminds me of the women in my family, especially my beloved Kun Immo (my mom’s Unee, i.e. Big Sis, i.e. The Notorious KIM, RIP Kun Immo – I am pouring a 40 of makgeolli into the ground for her and all my mom’s dead homies) who would take me to their favorite ones in Korea. They would wash my back and braid my hair and hold my face in their hands and ask me if I had any idea how beautiful I was, and how beautiful a woman I was going to grow up to be.
All I have of them now is their jewelry, willed to me in embarrassingly large amounts and stored in safety boxes all over the West Side, as they couldn’t give me any more days, because they only had so many, and had spent them all loving me and my mom, but in death, they could still give me jade and diamonds, to carry into my days, as the beautiful woman they all knew I would grow up to be. (my mom is slightly pissed off that I have it, but I totally let her borrow it! especially the emeralds. She works an emerald better than joan fucking Collins.)
The women at the Aroma Spa look like my family, who are all gone now, but are maybe watching me from heaven, where there’s probably an Aroma spa with a big screen tv in the sauna showing what is happening on earth, and I feel like, they are proud of me, because I found some new ladies that might do the same things for me that they did, until I see them once more, in the great jimjilbang in the sky.