Naked, hair tied back in a bun, and my towel stuck to me like a condom, I step into the intoxicating mint-scented steam room of my local gym. Purpose - to relax completely and forget about that payroll that won't be increasing, that tumble dryer that makes my clothes shrink and stiff, oh and that idiot with whom I had a fling who insists on texting me every ten minutes. MY GOD, I need this stream retreat!
So, I get inside the steam room and literally hovering in front of the vent is some sort of Buddah-like lady creature stopping the hot air that is supposedly meant to come out. Butt naked, her marshmallow stomach is hanging pendulously above the tile floor as streams of sweat drip off her oversized body. Are we being serious here? Am I going to be confined in a room with this? GOD, I do not want to imagine where her sweaty hanging rolls of flesh have managed to drape themselves.
"I can't get the steam to come out. I've tried turning on the hose at the side but there is no cold water coming out... it seems loose," the Buddah-esque lady tells me.
I fiddle with the hose, and of course I manage to get it to work. I sit down and - wait for it, yup - Buddah-babe comes to sit next to me. #HELP.
I have never wrapped that towel around tighter. Buddah-beauty is now trying to have a conversation with me. As she rambles on, the room is getting hotter and hotter, steam gradually obscuring everything in the room. Her face is now at a half moon, yet she still tries to engage in a conversation with me. This is awkward- I can only now see half an eyebrow and part of a nostril. Within five seconds her face is gone altogether. Realising she can't now see me either, she compensates by raising her voice several hundred decibels. Now I'm not sure whether it's steam vapour or her spit that I can feel dripping down my face! I can't see a bloody thing but can still hear her rambling on about her scented candles at home, the difficulty of finding a decent gardener in this part of London, how she is thinking of getting a fifth cat, oh and how her varicose veins are getting bigger. GROSS.
I hear the door open. Presumably another lady has come in. I pray she's not another Buddha-beast. God, she must think the lady next to me is nuts - she is talking to herself!
"How long would you usually stay in here?" my Buddha- friend tells me.
"Only five minutes max," I answer.
"I've been in here longer than that... I'd better go," she says.
God I have never been so happy to answer a question. Luckily the no vision really helped here - NO, I did not have the pleasure of seeing her voluminous body waddling its way out of the steam room! But I'm still trapped at one end of the narrow bench, too nervous to spread out in case my body touches one of the sweaty juice-puddles she left behind her when she got up. Shouldn't it be illegal for other people to join you in a steam room? This a place I want to have clarity, reflect on my life, and generally feel better when I come out! Now I'm even more stressed than I was when I arrived! clarity, reflect on my life, and generally feel better when I come out! Now I'm even more stressed than I was when I arrived!