Monday, January 18, 2010

Team Steam

My workout partner, Midge, and I have been going to the Y for years (give or take); we have a certain familiarity with almost everybody. We know who’s happy, who’s getting a divorce, who’s got grandkids and how many, past careers, retirement plans, who owns what business, who’s in therapy, who needs therapy, and who gets the wrong idea when you smack your workout partner on the bum. You get the idea – familiarity! Like one big happy family!

Midge and I are a great team. We’re fun, we’re silly, and sometimes less than lady-like. We sling mud at the boys and drop the occasional trashy joke. Boo-ya! All is great! But then one day, Midge suggests we check out the steam room. Ummm. Ok. Sure, I’m game – we’re a team, right?

And today is the day. Ready? Set? Read note on the door: STEAM ROOM AND SAUNA ARE CO-ED. PLEASE WEAR SOME CLOTHING AND/OR TOWEL. And/or? Co-WHAT? I throw up in my mouth a little. Anxiety and panic creep in. But Midge doesn’t think twice.

She throws open the door to the steam room while waving me in and looks back at me with these huge eyes that say, “Get ready – brace yourself!” I’m straggling about 7 steps behind her, whispering to myself, oh shit, oh shit… at the last second, I slink in. Gulp. Co-ed? Try NO-ed. Just guys. Jokes flying, old, practically see-through swim trunks, flabby, hairy bellies, sitting there like Romans in all their glory. I can’t even look up, though I am in a swimsuit with a towel completely wrapped around me. But there’s Midge, already yukking it up: “So – do you guys come here often?” This gets a big laugh. “Wow – I could sit here for hours…” She’s as chummy as can be!

Me? I’m totally mortified. Can’t get a word out. On top of which, I can’t breath. Then the steam pipe (or whatever it’s called) kicks in, and I am sure I am going to die, asphyxiate, writhing on the hot tile floor which surely must be covered in - eeew, gawd - I can’t even think about it! (Note to self: bring Crocs.) Some of the guys exit – see you ladies tomorrow! – leaving one old guy, who does some little magic number on the steam thingy, and it starts belching out more hot, stuffy stuff. Then – the unthinkable – he walks over and sits next to me, and he just starts talking. At this point I’m frozen, staring at my feet, heart rate about 210, and I’m positive this old fart is going to hit on me. I’m sure of it. It’s a steam room nightmare. But there’s Midge – just as relaxed as relaxed can be – like she’s sipping a Corona on the coast of Tahiti. She looks at me: “Isn’t this great?!”

Long story short, I made it out alive and un-hit-on by old man. Midge says I’m just glowing: “You look great! You know, we could work this right into our morning schedule.” I think I’ve slightly overestimated familiarity.

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