Archive for October, 2008

Tales from the Gym – Twenty Minutes in the Foyer

Sitting on the bench in the sauna foyer, I opened my eyes just in time to observe a woman walking into the steam sauna, carrying a pencil and a pad of paper.

A few moments later I opened my eyes again and spotted a woman walking out of the sauna, wearing nothing but a pair of socks.

She crossed paths with a woman who was just entering, clad in very high-end and very lacy lingerie.

A few minutes later, the unmistakable sound of operatic vocals rose up from the depths of the gym; the voice originated somewhere in the long bank of showers, wisped it’s way along the hallway, along with the steam, then unfurled once it reached the sauna foyer. I was the sole audient for a voluptuous, passionate aria, which somehow seemed perfectly staged there amongst the tiled walls and draped towels.

A few minutes later I ducked into the steam sauna to see what had happened to the note-taker and the lingerie model. The steam, however, was at its densest and I could only make out a single person: a mime, visible only because of a turbaned head and gloved hands, gesticulating silently, seemingly urging the billowing clouds of steam into air currents in our tiny micro-climate.

The gym announced, via speaker, that closing time was imminent and the news filtered into the sauna, muted but still definitive. I started to leave but stopped when a voice, emanating from the depths of the steam, admonished me. “Ssshhhh, don’t move. The ‘we’re closing’ announcement doesn’t count if we didn’t hear it. Besides, they can’t kick us out if they can’t see us.” The turbaned head inclined in agreement, and the hands suggested that if I left, opening the door and letting the steam escape would put everyone in danger.

Fascinated by the mime and the politics of invisibility, I stayed. Time passed; it could have been a minute or an entire day later when I finally stepped out into the foyer. But it was just in time to observe a woman, casually disappearing around the corner, clad only in a breech-clout fashioned from paper towels from the dispenser.

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