Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The sauna was packed. Some were toweled, some speedoed, and some cooked their eggs freely on griddle that was the hot, plank bench. A couple of the older men spoke admiringly of triathletes and theorized about the ultimate technique to reduce drag in the water (a good swim won't win you the race, but a bad one will lose it for you... conventional wisdom, of course) while a portly youth in the corner doused himself with a well-crushed bottle of water from repeated forceful squeezings. I rested with my legs up in front of the door, anticipating entrances and exits and politely dropping them before anyone had to consider asking. An older man, a naked older man, with a Freud-like air about him headed to the seat directly across from me and sat on the upper deck.

Damnit... Have to find someplace else to stare...

"...well, at least you were pretty good at everything," offered a man, seemingly in consolation.
"Not really. I was pretty mediocre at all three events."
I enjoyed the way he pronounced mediocre. "Meddioakuh." Australian.

"Well, I'm about due," said the Australian in red hotpants.
"Yeah. It's getting a little bakey," and with that I finally made eye contact with someone for the first time in five long minutes. He was a good-looking, affable gent.

A minute or two later, Bizarro Freud left and the sauna was empty, save me. I moved to a corner spot and enjoyed the solitary, dry heat for a barely a minute when a man in his, oh, probably seventies, walked in, fully clothed. Different, I thought. He looked nondescriptly foreign until he spoke and his Asian subcontinentality burst through. He addressed as he undressed:

"How long you've used the sauna here?" he asked.

Shirt off.

"Ummm... on and off." I thought and thought. For some reason, I wanted to be accurate with this man. He deserved better than an estimation.
"Roughly?" he shot out, softly punching through my pondering silence. Apparently, an approximation would work for him.

Pants off.

I settled on an answer. "Probably about half a year or so."
"An' why do you use the sauna?"

Underpants off.

"It's a nice place to recharge, I think. I like to sweat it out in peace after I sweat it out in action," I replied and he smiled.

He took his seat on the upper deck to my left and began to explain the holistic healing virtues of the sauna. He went on about how it acts like the kidneys, purging excess salts from the body and told me a story about how he brought in a darker Indian with him once.

"He was dark. I, too, am dark, but he was very, very dark... a black man turning white! Have you heard of this?!" he inquired.
"No wayyy!"
"It's true, because of the salts."

I love old manecdotes. I offered my own little story about how I could see the salt lines on my old, sweaty workout shirts. I could see that he appreciated that I related somehow. He continued with his insight.

"I really cannot think of any disadvantage of the sauna," he concluded. I was pretty convinced.
"Nah... me neither," I said. "Well, I guess you do get a little thirsty."
He laughed with a bright smile. "Luckily, the price of water is not high."

...which is true, as long as it's not bottled for you.

"I've done these little interviews before," he disclosed. "One time, there was a man in this sauna and he went to sleep..."
"Oh, wow."
"...for thirty minutes! This is much more than the prescribed twenty minutes, you see. When I asked him why he wished to sleep, he answered: 'I felt sexy todayyy.'"
He wrapped up with his endearing smile. "I tell that one to everyone."

I felt honored to have been one of them.

Oh, and also, he had a really tiny penis!

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