07 July 2014

Lacking an Idea for a Clever Title I Call This Shut Up and Sweat -- A Guide to Sauna Behavior

So there’s two other guys were in the sauna last night when I went in after my workout. Don’t think they knew each other but they were chatty sorts — some people are — not me so much. Anyway one of ‘em — a bald guy — mentions he goes from the gym to this dancing thing every night, really enjoys it he says. It’s this improvisational sort of deal where people do their own thing and are very expressive and “use the space” and each other’s bodies and etc. The other guy is much older he’s actually a bit portly like he actually really needs to be at the gym and maybe should still be working out and not lolling around in the sauna. Anyway he responds to bald guy’s description by saying: “it sounds very Berkeley” and then starts to chuckle. The other fellow goes on talking but portly is still chuckling. It was a remark that merited a second or two of tittering but certainly nothing prolonged like portly is doing. Baldy now says this dance thing actually originated in Ohio to which portly says “probably started by the Amish” as if that’s funny. And he clearly thinks it is funny because again he goes into a prolonged chortle. What a pain. Seriously, you cut your giggling short when the other guy is being serious and explaining something, especially if what you said isn’t all that funny to begin with. It’s rude to keep laughing at your own stupid joke like that. Baldy just kept talking as if the other guy was an interviewer from the BBC or something. Me, I’d a closed my yap.

I suppose this points to one of the reasons I keep to myself in public places. You start talking to some guy and think he’s okay and everything is fine next thing you know he’s being a total horses’s ass. Who needs that? Better to just keep your own counsel and let the idiots talk to each other. Look at the dangers. You talk to some guy and the conversation turns to sports and it turns out he hates the team you love and loves the team you hate. Who wants to talk to such a creature? Or you start talking films and he’s got the taste of a 12 year old and wants to know did you see the latest Spiderman. Or you start talking politics and maybe he’s on the same side of the fence as you but won’t shut up and let you get a word in edgewise. Matter of fact he could be that way in discussing anything. Older I got the less tolerance I have for people who won’t shut up and listen for a change. They love the sound of their own opinions and experiences and ideas and got no room in their tiny brains for anything anyone else has to say. Invariably the people who prattle on the most have the least to say and are the most inarticulate about saying it. A whole lot of nothing said stupidly. Yeah just what I want to hear.

Few weeks ago in the same sauna there was a conversation about marriage and relationships. I kept my head down as everyone else offered an opinion. Finally I had enough when one guy suggested that when you hit about 40 it was a good time to decide whether you wanted to commit to a long term relationship or stay single. No one challenged this notion. My opinion is that a you go into a relationship not because you want one but because you’ve met the right person. But this guy seemed to reckon you made up your mind first. Hell no.

Reminds me of my dating days when sometimes a woman would say at the outset: “I”m not looking for a relationship.” Or that she wasn’t looking for anything “serious.” I never understood that. What if you meet someone and fall madly in love and realize that this person you want to spend the rest of your life with? You gonna say to yourself and that other person that being as you aren’t looking for a relationship at this time you’re going to pass? Ridiculous. Its the person you meet that dictates the nature of the relationship.

The other one that a woman might say that really got me was: “I’m trouble.” All that meant to me at the time was that she was a — and excuse my use of the word — slut. What the hell else does “trouble” mean other than that she was liable to take off with some other guy at any time? A guy to whom she would also doubtless tell that she was “trouble.”

So anyway I keep my head down in the sauna and just sweat and relax and try not to listen to motor mouths. People can sense when you’re anti social. Those who can’t generally have something wrong with them. There was one head case who on several occasions tried to chat me up in the sauna but of course it was no soap. I couldn’t figure the guy. I gave monosyllabic answers to any questions he asked and didn’t respond to his statements but he’d persist. Finally I see him talking other people — or trying to — and realize that he’s truly and honestly not right in the head. No one had much time for him. The gym is one place — of many — where you don’t want to spend time dealing with a loony tune. Haven’t seen the guy in years now and can only figure he’s stowed away in the laughing academy hopefully getting some help.

But the worst thing to happen in the gym sauna isn’t people who talk a blue streak. It’s the idiots who decide to use it as a laundry room. As someone raised going to sauna who has the culture of the sauna racing through his Finnish veins I find it incredibly insulting that people will hang their wet bathing suits gym shorts or towels in the sauna. Disgusting. Never mind that its against the rules you’d be amazed at how many people do it. I’ve given up trying to straighten out these meatheads. Having been yelled at a couple of times, including curses. The worst part is when a person — and I’m talking about adults here — uses this as a defense: “but everybody else does it.” I used to hear that all time time when I was a middle school teacher. There are several responses to this statement: 1) no, everyone else does not do it; 2) that does not change the fact that it is wrong and against the rules; 3) what, you’ve got the mind of a 12 year old? give it back I’m sure he’s confused and disappointed to have made the exchange.

There are also people who read in the sauna which is rather bad form but nothing I’d ever squawk about. As I’ve already pointed out there are worse things. Then there are people who exercise in the sauna. I mean seriously isn’t that what the whole rest of the gym is for? Isn’t it apparent that this is not an exercise room but one to sit in and sweat and relax? It’s not? Then I would suggest making appointments with an optometrist and a psychiatrist.

I’ve also seen people come into the sauna fully clothed which is just plain weird and people come in wearing and listening to iPods which is just plain stupid as well as weird.

Fortunately most people come into the sauna naked or with a towel around their midsection and sit and maybe talk quietly to someone they know or manage to strike up a pleasant conversation with a stranger. A big shout out to all of you who do that. You’re the best and keep me from totally despairing about the future of humanity.

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