I finished a pretty good workout and headed for the sauna. For once no one was hanging their clothes in it, no one was exercising in it and it wasn’t super crowded. In fact there was only one other person perched there. I sat down an enjoyed a good relaxing sweat.
“It’s hot in here.” That’s what the other person said. In the sauna. To me. I’m of Finnish ancestry. My dad, who was born in the old country, built a sauna in our house. I know from saunas.The one at the gym is pretty weak as saunas go and by this I mean in large part that it’s never hot enough -- by a Finn’s standards. I’ve talked to a couple of Finns who don’t even bother with it because it insults their sauna-going sensibilities to sit in a lukewarm sauna. But to me it's the proverbial better than nothing. So anyway I replied that it was indeed hot. I think the sum total of my response was, “yes it is.” Although I thought several other things such as: but not nearly enough; well, it is a sauna so, yeah; and please don’t start a fucking conversation with me.
I maybe should have said the last one because he soon thereafter asked, “how was your day?” Oh for the love of god, I thought. “Fine,” is what I said and that was a strain. I’m really not into talking to complete strangers when it is not necessary. Like I said, I’m Finnish. My people don’t go around yakking to people we don’t know. We often go long stretches without talking to people we do know. Finns are generally pretty contented people but we live in fear of strangers starting conversations with us.
There was a a few seconds of quiet and then this clown said: “we could talk if there’s anything you feel like talking about.” This was too much, this was ridiculous. This was a veritable affront. This was ruining my sauna. This was weird. I sighed, I winced, I said, “No thanks,” and I confess to having said it curtly. “That’s cool,” he said. Awkward now. Seconds later three people came into the sauna at once. All I could think was, where the hell were you people like 30 seconds ago when motormouth felt like chatting?
The idiot didn’t bother any of them and in fact a half minute later exited. For the record he was maybe in his early thirties, fairly big, had a long thick head of hair a full beard but no mustache. I’ve never gotten the beard sans mustache deal. It looks like you started to shave the whole deal off, but were interrupted and never got back to it. Half measures.
I am happy to report that in the showers after the sauna no one tried to strike up a conversation. If someone had I might have shanked ‘em.