You know what is an incredibly comfortable environment? The sauna.
Said no one, ever.
Despite its shortcomings, and tendency to just get super weird I for some reason have just always really loved sitting in the sauna. I’ve suspected for some time now that I am secretly an eighty-year-old man trapped in a young female skin suit, and coupled with my love of soup and NPR my bizarre love for saunas serves as additional proof of this suspicion. As one of my first adult decisions recently, after paying for an adult haircut and purchase of a Rosetta Stone package, I decided to join a gym.
Now I am more than fully aware that this is a douchey thing to do but those of you who know—and hopefully love—my neurotic tendencies are well aware that I have to run or get excess energy out in some form every day or I become a monster. You think I’m temperamental and difficult generally? Imagine if I couldn’t displace this insanity via exercise. Think crazy eyes from Orange is the New Black mixed with Natalie Portman in Black Swan high on bath salts.
It suffices to say that it is in everybody’s best interest if I can run. And after four-plus years of subjecting myself the horror that is Johnson Gym during the cold winter and windy spring I figured I would just suck it up and buy a membership elsewhere.
Primary motivational factors for doing so are the cute boys and TVs on all treadmills.
Oh, and the sauna!
Really though, this is not a place for the faint of heart. There should seriously be a sign on the door that reads: if you are under 60, female, or easily frightened then beware of entering.
Now, I feel like there is only one activity that is appropriate while in a tiny hot room sweating profusely with strangers: sitting in silence. Apparently I am the only person who feels this way, because I have consistently had the strangest interactions here recently.
Allow me to illustrate this point with some examples.
I was peacefully sitting alone for a few minutes when two men entered separately within a few minutes of one another. The first one laid on the bench across from me and started doing sit-ups! Every time he did one the entire bench creaked loudly and I was legitimately concerned it would break. This struck me as slightly strange, because working out is the last thing I want to do in a room that is 200 degrees but I was impressed by his dedication. The second guy then appeared, sat down next to me and proceeded to start doing some kind of rapid turning exercise while breathing loudly from his mouth. I become the anomaly in the room, sitting quietly while these two older gentlemen worked out! In the sauna! It all became too much when a THIRD person came in and started stretching. If someone had taken a picture it would have been too ridiculous. EVERYONE WAS IN MOTION, grunting and sweating while I tried my best to ignore it all. Unsuccessfully, I left.
My favorite times are those when the senior male crowd congregates in the sauna at the same time and I get to catch up on all the gossip/ war stories. I am most intrigued by someone named “Louis” that everyone seems to know. This dude knows everyone’s business and talks about all of them to one another. The other day, the group mentioned the elusive Louis a solid five times “Louis said you were feeing better” “Louis told me you were on vacation! How was it?!”. What I would give to meet the all-knowing Louis in the sauna—realistically he probably already knows who I am, and my future destiny.
This led me to begin to picture what Louis must look like, what his every day life must include. He is obviously a very busy and important man, but enough of a rebel to warrant being talked about.
Was he like this?
or like this
Are you reading this right now, Louis?! If I am murdered in the sauna in the next week, I think we all know who did it.
Yesterday, there was this girl lying inside for so long and with so little motion that I was sincerely concerned she might be dead. She was fully clothed, like in a hoodie and sweat pants, and was already in there motionless when I arrived. She did not move one single time for fifteen minutes. I started to contemplate how creepy it would be for me to touch her..to make sure she was alive still. Luckily, she suddenly got up and left which made me super glad I didn’t do the whole touching thing. The second to last thing I would want is to get charged with molestation in the sauna. The first is to be the victim of said molestation, by Louis.
The single most uncomfortable situation I have been put in would have to be getting hit on in my sweaty post-workout state. What this guy was thinking, I will never know. We were in the sauna conversing with a Polish woman, me and this wrestling dude that kept bragging about how he “always won”. His ability to slip this information into virtually anything we began to talk about was quite astonishing. He really knew what I look for in a potential mate: the ability to pin another man down in awkward positions. Things were relatively normal until one member decided to leave, the Polish woman. As she walked out the door this dude thought it a good idea to say as a farewell, “Next time you see us, we will be engaged!”. Referring to him and I. It was funny for a moment, until she shut the door and we were left to once again converse after this presumptuous statement. Let’s just say I got out of there as quickly as humanly possible. He was right about one thing however, we are now engaged!