Yesterday I went to my health club in the cause of my fitness regime – well, I say that, but in reality it is a weight-loss/vanity campaign. It is also one that is becoming increasingly frustrating because, despite my best efforts, I have stalled at the same weight for the past three weeks.
After pounding the stepping machine for 30 minutes and spending a quarter of an hour pumping weights I then went for my customary self-satisfied sauna.
Having replenished the water bucket and chucked three scoops onto the sauna hardware – the better to increase the ambient heat – I then found myself pursued to the top seating shelf by a wave of super-hot air that was almost unbearable so, instead of sitting upright as per normal, I lay gingerly back on the wooden slats in order to avoid the worst of the temperature.
A short while (maybe three minutes) later a not-unattractive young brunette in a black one-piece swimming costume joined me, further away to the other side of the cabin.
I’ve never been quite sure of sauna-etiquette since the year when I was in my late teens that my parents took my brothers and I for a winter sports stay in Geilo in Norway, staying with the family of one of my father’s business colleagues who had a holiday hut there.
Geilo is close enough to the Arctic Circle that, during the winter months, the sun goes down at about 3.00pm and they continue skiing until 6.00pm by floodlighting the slopes. One night I went to a health club with the son of the family (about my age) and I was slightly thrown out of my then comfort zone towards the end of our visit when, clad in my swimming trunks, I popped into the sauna and discovered myself distinctly overdressed. Everyone inside was stark bollock naked, including my father’s business colleague and his wife. My British reserve got the better of me and I suddenly remembered that I needed to do another twenty lengths of the pool …
Anyway – back to 2015 and my local health club.
Normally in a sauna I say nothing when somebody new comes in, as it were respecting the other’s privacy, unless I know them or have been introduced. With strangers especially so, particularly if they are female – I don’t want to get their antennae twitching, immediately imagining that I am the sort of leery old pervert who hangs around in saunas ogling young girls and/or trying to chat them up. (I might even be one of those, mind, but I just don’t want anyone thinking that).
As it happens, I opened the batting straight away: “Please excuse me lying down, I just fired up the heat and it’s a bit much for me …”
“That’s fine …” she smiled, “… it is a bit warm” and with that she sat down.
And farted. A short, delicate, lady-like report.
“Oooops – sorry!” she apologised.
“No worries from me …” I replied, seeking to put her at her ease and thereafter deliberately saying nothing more.
A couple of minutes later another middle-aged gentleman joined the pair of us. I rose from my lying position on my back and sat up, the better to allow him to share my bench opposite the young girl, for which he thanked me.
Two or three minutes after that, the young girl stood up, smiling “That’s it for me, I’ve had enough” she announced, before leaving the cabin to go for a swim.
And that was that.
I noticed her again about fifteen minutes later, after I had spent time in the jaccuzzi and was waddling alongside the pool to the locker rooms. She was still ploughing her way up and down. I then changed and walked home down the hill, feeling somehow more at one with the world than I had been earlier on my way up.