So you’ve been stressed. You need a vacation. The nagging tendonitis from hours of editing your unpublishable manuscript has left you frustrated, tense. A friend suggests you join her for a day trip to the semi-local Hot Springs resort. You can’t drink there, but you can get a massage and soak your aching, overworked body in hot mineral water while surrounded on all sides by rolling hills and wildlife and fresh air and naked men. Here are some crucial insider tips for making the most of your experience:
Wear a humongous low-rimmed sun hat. This will not only protect your eyes from solar flares and shield your scalp and forehead from damaging UV rays, but it will also serve as a buffer. The larger the hat, the darker the shadow it casts across your face. This will be useful in concealing the stunned and mangled expressions your face will likely display during your visit. And unless you have very identifiable body art, the hat will also ensure that your child’s former preschool teacher won’t recognize you and stop by to show you her new lower back Luna Moth tattoo.
Always wear big, dark sunglasses. Again, the sun is bright out there in the wild, wild world of naked hot springs. You need protection. You also need those glasses to shield your delicate eyes from so many unwanted soul stares that are guaranteed while visiting the magic crystal lands of spiritually cleansing naked places. They also serve as a softening screen when presented with the many, many pale white asses and tenderly scalded crispy pink buns that come frighteningly close to your face. Bonus: Dark glasses make it possible for you to ogle the rare attractive man or woman lounging near the pool without looking like a total perv.
It is very important to utilize the most basic of manners at the hot springs, like “no peeing in the pool” and “ladies first.” But most importantly, remember not to bend over to pick up your book bag or vegan chocolate treats. And don’t attend any yoga classes sans pants. You wouldn’t like someone else’s puckered starfish or withering junk dangling in your face, would you? Just kneel. Better yet, if you’re hoping to make a few naked friends during your visit, ask someone at ground level to assist you in retrieving your items.
Another important tip is to be aware of the personal space of others and yourself and don’t—for any reason—pass through (or even come within three feet of) circles of fellow hot springs seekers. People who form into naked body mandala clusters are often working out some Aura wounds or practicing some sort of hocus pocus. If you enter into the sacred geometric space they’ve formed, the possibility of being sucked into an accidental energetic Ménage à hecka or of having your qi altered into an unmanageable state of disarray increases tenfold. Unprotected psychic energy field swaps can be avoided. Just stay away.
Massages at places where most people are unclothed and so god damn spiritual can be hit or miss, so opt for a deep tissue massage in lieu of a discounted warm Himalayan rock salt chakra balancing energy work treatment. Even expressing a desire for something soothing like a basic Swedish Massage can misinterpreted, providing the body worker an opportunity to process some psychic issues around unbalanced menstrual cycles or grief over the dead ladybug they found in their raw kale salad the week before. If you’re not careful about who is selected to administer these often pricey hour-long treatments, you may very well end up alone in a room with someone who provides little more than uncomfortably loud rhythmic breathing and low-grade humming noises while they criticize you for being too tense and not joining their primitive harmonics.
It is easy to notice a lot of unsuppressed and even aggressive moaning and sighing when everyone around you is naked. People are fucking STOKED to walk around naked, dipping in and out of hot and cold and lukewarm water while pretty girls lounge and feed each other organic mangoes and comb their long golden locks just inches above their perky sun-kissed breasts. So lots of old dudes moan. And sigh. Loudly. With every inhalation, with every filling of their stainless steel water bottles, they groan. Don’t be alarmed. Don’t make eye contact. They’re just stoked. No need to moan back.
Don’t let anyone but your friend apply your sunblock. Strangers will appear to be very kind, helpful and even selfless. But it is wise to leave the hard-to-reach-places sunblock application to a trusted friend. There’s no telling where the supposed kind hands of strangers may wander to. Sure, the signs say NO SEXUAL CONTACT, but not all of the signs are visible, if you know what I mean.
There is an odd slapping or clapping sound that often drifts through the air on particularly crowded afternoons at the naked hot springs resort. Whatever you do, don’t seek its origin, no matter how the curiosity grips you and attempts to force your head in the direction of said sound. The source of the smacking is the elusive weiner-flapper and no one needs to see him, ever. Take it from me, one way to ruin any chance of an enjoyable naked hot springs experience is to come face to face with a Gallagher look-alike playing a solo game of penis ping pong with his sunburnt inner thighs.
If there is a hose-like contraption in the sauna, give the seating area a good, hard spray before sitting down. I shouldn’t need to tell you why.
Once in a while, someone will approach, sparking a light conversation with comments like It sure is a lovely day, isn’t it? Or: What does that tattoo signify? Or: That raw coconut water is SO REFRESHING (usually followed by a long moan or sigh). And at some point an offer will come seemingly out of the stranger’s overly sun-drenched ass: Would you like me to float you? Now, this man may or may not believe he is a wizard with levitation powers but what he is offering doesn’t consist of a grown up round of light as a feather, stiff as a board. He wants to lead you into the water, where he will do an under water baptism dealio resembling a solo park side tai chi or interpretive dance meets magic trick maneuver while you lie, relaxing in the water, hoping not to drown. It looks whimsical and harmless enough but I can’t help but think that half of the floatees are held in the water by creepy old man erectile implants.
Don’t go to the naked Hot Springs Resort with a hangover. Seriously. Some well-meaning healer will misinterpret your hung-over energy as a major illness or trauma and will try to fix you up good. And by “fix you up good,” I mean touch you or get you to engage in the synchronistic sighing that so many naked hot springs resort people are into. And with a looming hangover, you’ll be too out of sorts to ask them to stop. Next thing you know, you’ll be draped in purple batik sarongs and spread out on the floor of a Nag Champa scented space dome. And everyone knows that kind of thing never ends with a smile. Ever.
And finally, the best and most crucial tip to enjoying the naked hot springs resort is to stay home and take a nice hot bath alone instead.