Solitary sweating

While over the past 32 years I have managed to amass quite an impressive amount of information, I realise there is still a lot more for me to learn. Some of it is frivolous stuff that probably won’t enrich my life all that much, but would be cool to know. You know, for like when I’m at some fancy cocktail party with anorexic B-grade schlebs and there’s a lull in the conversation. Then I can smoothly step in with a “So, I read this interesting thing the other day about the lower instestine…”

But then there are way more important things I’ve yet to learn. Things that are vital to my wellbeing and general happiness. Some of those things I probably don’t know I don’t know yet. Ignorance is, afterall, bliss. But there’s one thing I discovered I’ve yet to master.

The art of Sauna Etiquette.

Now, I’m a pretty modest person at the best of times… ok, fine Internet, I’m a bit of a prude – are you happy? I understand that everyone in the changeroom at the gym has roughly the same bits, but I still don’t feel happy parading them around for all the world to see. Especially when the area is populated by women whose bits that are supposed to wobble don’t. I do my best to get changed as quickly as possible with as little flesh displayed as possible. But that’s just me. I suspect that even if I was built like a stick insect I’d be the same.

So, if I could go into the sauna fully clothed I probably would. Well, maybe not that dramatic. I have however noticed that the general practice is to go in there completely naked and sprawl. I however have a special way of wrapping myself in my towel so that not only am I sitting on it, but it also resembles a rather modest cocktail dress.


How I like my saunas - empty


Up until yesterday I’ve been lucky enough to get the sauna all to myself. I gym at that magical time of day – just after all the office drones have done their spinning and Zumba sessions and just before the wrinklies come for their aqua aerobics class.

Yesterday I was sitting quietly by myself enjoying the toastiness when another woman entered into my sacred domain. (Oh be quiet, I’m talking about the sauna. Sheesh, some people!) Anyway, in she came, off came the towel and down she lay – mere centimetres from me.

The wood panelled walls were suddenly really fascinating and my face burned even hotter than the coals in the corner. Now I didn’t mind being in there with her. I treated it like a toddler playing a game of hide-and-seek does. I closed my eyes. If I can’t see her, then she can’t see me. Even better, if I can’t see her, then she’s not there.

The only problem is that I have this overwhelming urge to talk to strangers. Ask Fiance Person. I talk to anyone, about all sorts of ridiculous stuff. The cashier at Pick n Pay, the waiter at Spur, the people in the queue with me at the bank (despite all that, I DON’T talk to the person next to me on an aeroplane – for the record.)

So suddenly I find myself in a small space with another woman. Manners tell me I should say hello, comment on the weather, ask her where she gets her waxes done. But then I realise that being in a small hot room with a very naked woman is incredibly uncomfortable. And really – nothing I could think of to talk about would be suitable.

What did I do? Well, I ran away. Actually, I casually stood up, clutching my designer towel frock closed, took a look at the clock and exclaimed in my most convincing voice “Oh my goodness, I’m going to be late for work!” and high-tailed it out of there and into an ice cold shower.

I guess I failed that challenge. But it was only my first try. I’m sure there will be many more naked women sauntering into my sauna in the near future. Perhaps I should prepare a few one-liners, sew them into the reverse of my towel, or jot them onto the bottoms of my slip-slops, so next time I’m faced with a buxom bare body I’ll be able to smile sweetly and sound completely at ease, before I make my escape.

Any suggestions?


5 thoughts on “Solitary sweating

  1. i prefer the steam room because it’s all steamy and you cant see so well. also, i’ll just pop in there and lie down myself. but then i’m very happy not talking to people. good luck 🙂

    • I’ve tried the steam room – but I always feel like I’m drowning if I’m in there for more than 8 seconds. Yeah, I’m a baby. The dry heat makes me far less panicky, although your point about not being able to see so well is a good one…

  2. What is the problem with talking to naked ladies? I’m all in favour of it. I don’t sauna, but steam. And the only reason I don’t talk to naked men in the steam room is that I doubt their interests reside in the history of country music, the evolution of film noir from German cinema in the 1920s and ’30s to Hollywood in the ’40s, or any particularly informed perspectives on the sporting endeavours of Manchester United or the Proteas (I’m not likely to be entertained by idiotic statements about how Graeme Smith is a waste of time my china). So it’s not really the unattractiveness of dangling penises and sweaty arses that precludes me from steam room extrovertion, but my on exclusivist notions of good conversation.

    • Thank you – so very much – for that wonderful mental image… “dangling penises and sweaty arses” indeed. I see you’ve taken the art of the Ear Worm into the visual domain now…

  3. Well, don’t maintain that mental image when you hear in your head “Here comes Santa Claus”. The result could be profoundly disturbing.

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