12/11/2003
 
Hot Times in the Steam Room

Last night at the gym I had my humanity reaffirmed (and I worked on my deltoids!) I was grumbling to myself on the walk from my office to Holmes Place Gym because it was so cold and my legs hadn’t really warmed up all day, even though I’d wrapped my frickkin’ jacket round them at my desk. Anyways, so it’s misty and there are Christmas lights flickering on and off but I’m grumpy so I decide they look sinister.

At the gym I do a bit of cardio and some weights, glaring at the small patch of psoriasis on the side of my face in the mirror whenever I have a drink from the water fountain. I’m on a tight schedule because I’m meeting Len in Soho for a coffee and to give back the thirty quid I owe him, but after my workout I decide to go for a steam to warm up my legs.

I walk in and there’s no steam. There’s a young man sitting by himself. He’s hairy and fat and wearing black shorts. I sit down opposite him. I have to turn away because I still haven’t trimmed my chest hair yet and I don’t want him to see.

We sit there for a few minutes in a moist and slightly humid (but definitely not steamy) room.

“Is it supposed to be steamier than this?” I finally ask.

“Yes, I think so”

Pause

I lean over and take a wet flannel that someone has helpfully placed over the thermometer and suddenly the steam machine kicks in with brio. We both say something banal like “here we go!” and since we’d broken the taboo of chatting in a confined space with semi naked strangers who have crop circles shaved into their chest - we continue to talk. I find out his name is Sam and he’s from Israel. He’s just come back from two years in the Army (he went home for a two week holiday and was enlisted). I give my gym shtick (how I like working out near old people so I can change the weights after they’ve been on a machine and feel more macho) and we both laugh so much that someone pauses at the Steam Room door but doesn’t come in.

Then, when the steam is almost too intense to breathe - I get up, shake Sam’s hand and have a nice cool shower.
 

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