I open the soft cotton blinds to the wide open view of the Hollywood sign and sip the seven dollar cappuccino just delivered by the well mannered room service attendant wearing a suit and bow tie. I love his energy. He points his stick-like finger out the window and eagerly points at the church where Marlon Brando got married — the first time that is.

I’m on vacation… in Los Angeles for the first time ever.

I’m here celebrating my best friend’s wedding. A Chicago native, she wanted to do her bachelorette party in Los Angeles for the week, so here we all are. And we’re doing everything: We’re dining in L.A.‘s finest restaurants where I’m convinced “Fine Dining” is secret code for “small portions”; we’re dancing in clubs on rooftops and swear we just saw Kim Kardashian; we’re trying out the Korean Spa.

My three eager friends and I walk through the double doors into the spa. I can feel heat and steam seeping through the door in the lobby. We’re told clothes of any kind are prohibited. So we wrap towels (the only item allowed) tightly around our bodies and head in. Fifty nude women lounge around in the sauna, steam room and Jacuzzi tubs from ages twenty to eighty. A few small Asian women squat down and wash each other with a rag; others sprawl out while receiving a body scrubbing service. Nothing is hidden here, and nothing about this is comfortable. We’re trying to be so Elizabeth Gilbert here and go with the flow. I mean, if she can travel the world alone in search of herself, we can surely go to a harmless Korean Spa — even if we have to be nude. They don’t say “When in Rome” for nothing.

My spunky friend Jacky has a full blown panic attack after a bucket of water was thrown on her during a massage. She meets us in the “oxygen room” and falls on the floor hysterically crying, creating quite the scene. Her lower lip quivers and she can barely move. People are staring. I run to the small cafe to get her some water. While I’m there I’m tempted by the “age reversing” secret among Korean women apparently, and purchase pumpkin tea. I sip it. It’s cold and tastes exactly like unsweetened baby food. I try not to appear offensive and swallow it.

I’ve seen L.A. through vacation eyes, and can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but I actually think L.A. is one pretty cool place. Maybe that’s what I needed?

Alice can be reached at

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Tales of a Toluca Lake Actress

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