I WON'T BE CONTROLLED!
“I feel like I’m being punished and controlled!” Lynn, who used to swim, shakes her head in befuddled disgust.
It’s the new sauna at Hilltopia. The women are up in arms. They’ve installed torturous little mini barriers to all those lie down women. Of whom Lynn is one.
“I can’t sit up comfortably!” she continues. “I hurt my back and sitting is excruciating. When I go in the sauna, I have to lie down to be comfortable.”
I nod, completely sympathetic. We want to relax in the sauna and not be forced into unnatural contortions to fit the new configurations.
How do I even describe these mini barriers? They’re like little wooden poles, about a half an inch high, sticking out of the otherwise flat surface every 2 feet or so. Thus, when you try to stretch out and lie down, your back, legs and maybe your shoulders are raised up this amount. There’s probably a carpenter name for these protrubances. Something like doles. Or moles. Or drolls.
Anyway, none of the women at Hilltopia is happy about them.
The first day the sauna was reopened, I was ecstatic. After over a month of no heat after a cold swim, I was ready for the new situation. When I went down to the locker-room, in my excitement, I just opened the door and stepped inside the new woodsy smelling sauna.
The three woman sitting up all glared at me. One of them pointed at my cowgirl boots in haughty disdain. “Your shoes!” she growled.
“Oh, sorry,” I grinned. “I just wanted to see the new sauna. I’m not staying inside. I’m on my way to the pool. But I didn’t want to let the heat out so I just stepped inside for a moment to take a look.”
“YOUR SHOES! You shouldn’t be in here with your shoes on!” Anti-Shoe Policewoman was incensed.
And I have to admit, she was right. But it was only for a moment. A quick look see. So I just repeated myself and she settled back into her glare.
“It’s beautiful,” I exclaimed, thinking about whether I should take my shoes off for the 15 seconds examination. “How do you like it?”
“It’s got these …..” The woman gestured toward the wooden horizontal poles sticking out of the benches. “….things…that don’t let us lie down.”
“It’s a liability issue, I’m sure,” another woman ventured.
“Yeah, I seen women in here that fall asleep and it scary, you know?” Anti-Shoe woman had recovered enough to participate in the discussion. Even though this meant that I’d be in the sauna, shoe clad, for a little bit longer.
“Yeah, I do know,” I nodded, thinking of a time when a woman had been roused out of the sauna, having passed out, the paramedics were called, and when they asked her their litany of is she okay questions, she knew who the President was, but she’d only had a cheeseburger and coke from McDonald’s that morning. They ended up carting her away to emergency, the Y Welcome Girls from the front desk worried and tense.
“Or, you know, it could be a suggestion to others that they be a little more considerate, you know?” Another woman volunteered. “Sometimes, when it’s crowded, people don’t move over. If you have these little barriers, then people can’t take up more room than this.”
“I suppose,” I agreed. “I don’t usually have that problem. When I come, it’s pretty empty.”
“Oh, at night, it get crowded!” Anti-Shoe Policewoman proclaims.
“Yeah, I know,” I said. “But couldn’t you just ask someone to move over or sit up?”
She eyes my boots scathingly. I laugh. “Okay, well, you ladies have a good afternoon.”
I exit the sauna. I swim my swim. The pool is freezing lately at Hilltopia. I’m so happy the sauna is open again. I don’t care about the anti-lie down situations.
And when I do enter the sauna, and its heating soothing air, I smile to myself. I’m all alone. I can sit here, or wait a minute, yes, I can! I can lie down if I position my head above one of the poles so that the concave of my neck is over a pole.
I settle into the warm wood, blissful. I won’t be controlled. Or punished. Not for lying down. Or hell, not even for wearing my cowgirl boots into the brand new no shoes allowed sauna!