The Sauna

I blink, trying to see through my steamed-up glasses. I’d stop to wipe them, but my hands are full of towels and massage oil. I’ll just find my way to the sauna. I stumble against the bench chair. Its occupant mutters something in German, not angrily I hope.

You never can tell about German. It always seems harsh, tactless, non-caring. Not like French, where even the curse words sound like the name of some exotic perfume. A French woman could be telling you to go straight to hell, and you’d think she just invited you to her boudoir. At the sauna, I raise the foggy glasses, but can’t see a damn thing through the tiny sauna window except for a few naked bodies wriggling like a bunch of earthworms in a bait box.

As I step through the door, a naked woman lifts her eyelids sleepily to see where the whiff of cold air is coming from. She lies on one of the upper benches with blonde hair draping over the towel under her neck, her long legs bent slightly.

A man on the other side clears his throat as if warning this intruder not to disturb the scene. His eyes interact with mine with a slight challenge. Leave us alone.

As if in defiance, he throws the white bath towel covering his vital parts to the floor, revealing a massive beer gut speckled with corkscrews of black hair. He parks his legs slowly. I refuse to look.

Another female, this one brunette, giggles from the bench above the man. She turns to the wall revealing only her hair marred by the steam, and her well-formed backside.

I move to the empty bench, remove the towel from my waist, and recline on the hot slats. A billow of steam billows from the sauna stove in response to the water just thrown by the mass-gutted German.

I’m a long way from Virginia.




Stories about the search for meaning in a chaotic world.

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Grant Tate is an author, thought leader, confidential advisor, and idea explorer in Charlottesville, VA. His latest book, “Hand on the Shoulder” is out soon.

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