Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Cleanest Person in the World

That'd be me. After several hours at the Russian & Turkish Baths. You're thinking I'm terribly wicked, aren't you? Hanging out at bath houses in New York? Well, I picked up a sweet deal from Lifebooker offering a day pass for $12 for the 1892 East Village establishment. I added a mud scrub to make the deal even more interesting. What the heck? I'll try anything once.

Now, if you're looking for a modern day spa with mood lighting, New Age music softly wafting through the place, and pertly smocked therapists offering cold lemon water, forget it. This place is loud (lots of tile, lots of people) Old World masculine. No frills. The women's locker room is cramped. The towels (complimentary) are mud brown, which is practical for a place offering mud scrubs.

Being the pessimistic-optimist that I am, I never expect too much from stuff like this, which has gotten me through a lot of life experiences. That outlook worked in my favor for the banya experience. I knew I was going on a coed day (bathing suits required). I figured it would be crowded on a Saturday (right again). I suspected it wouldn't be a day at a toney spa. But what I was after was lots of time in a variety of saunas, steam rooms, and a cold plunge pool (brrrrrrrr), and the Russian & Turkish Baths delivered. I loved going from room to room to pool to room, alternately sweating and freezing. Such happy pores!

But the really unique experience was the mud scrub. This is not for the shy. The treatment room was tiny, dark, and only a curtain and thin metal walls separated me from the hub-bub of the cold pool area. A tiny woman named Rosa, who in her thick Russian accent told me she'd worked there for twenty years, slathered me with mud (supposedly from the Dead Sea, but probably from the Hudson River), covered me lightly with towels, and left me to absorb the brown stuff.

She returned about twenty minutes later to hose me down with warm water. After most of the mud was rinsed off, she used a loofah glove to scrub me with clean-smelling soap. Now, I haven't had someone gave me a bath since I was 2, so this was a real luxury, even amidst the noise and turn-of-the-century/Soviet-era ambiance. After the soap, a scrub-down with sea salt. Another warm water rinse. Oh, and she washed my hair. I've never had someone spend a good five minutes washing my hair. Heaven! Atmosphere be damned.

So, yes, the cleanest person on earth right now is little old me.


Joy Des Jardins said...

Nirvana! That sounds heavenly Mary....and a real treat. I'm glad you took advantage of it.

MaryB said...

Joy, it was WONderful!