Sunday, December 19, 2010

tigers and lillies

The entrance to the sauna is via a discrete L-shaped screen; a man could quite easily be walking along the pavement on his way into town, not thinking about anything in particular, perhaps in his innocence a little too close to the shop fronts there – the gallery, the tatty sports shop, the cheap hotel - and suddenly find himself turning sharply to the left into a small reception area, a red and black themed room, with black rubber tiles on the floor, prints of naked male torsos around the walls, and a Plexiglas kiosk with a slot to slip your money through.
‘He’s in the locker room,’ says the man behind the screen, a young guy, bare-chested, his earlobes stretched by large black washers, his nipples pierced, his shoulders tattooed left and right with a tiger and a bouquet of lilies.
He buzzes a security door and we struggle through with our bags to a staircase, the kind of sharp edged affair you might find leading down to the kitchens of a restaurant. At the bottom is a changing area, wooden benches and lockers, and beyond it, a low-ceilinged corridor. There is a sign on the wall, a rack of arrows pointing in different directions: sun deck, cafe, hot and cold showers, plunge pool, solarium, play room, glory holes. The air is moist, vaguely sweet, vaporous with detergent, cologne and other, earthier flavours. Silent figures in the same institutional towel pad to and fro along the corridor. I’m conscious only of feet, legs and lower abdomen; I don’t want to embarrass anyone by making eye contact. But it seems to me that quite a few of the men find a reason to scratch their face, cough, or look in the other direction as they pass.
‘In here.’
The receptionist stands in front of a middle aged man almost completely dressed now, leaning forwards to slip on his shoes.
‘Would you go outside to talk to him in the ambulance? It’ll be a bit more discrete.’
The man doesn’t look at us, but stands up and hurriedly slips his rucksack over his shoulder.
‘I understand you had a fainting episode just now?’
He looks down to the side and shakes his head.
‘No,’ he says.
‘What do you mean? We’d like to make sure you’re okay.’
‘No. No thank you.’
He starts to leave.
The receptionist smiles at us and shrugs his tiger and lilies.
‘Sorry to have called you out for nothing, guys.’
By the time he has finished talking, the man is up the stairs and away.

18 comments:

Bouncin' Barb said...

What a waste of your time and the cost. Ahhh. At least let you check him out.

Spence Kennedy said...

I must admit I was relieved it wasn't a resus in a steam room (which has happened...) :/ phew

tpals said...

Forgive my cluelessness, but what was the business? If it was just a gay sauna why would they be ashamed?

fiona said...

Love the line, "a man could quite easily be walking..." yes, I am sure that is often their excuse! Ha, ha, brilliant writing as usual. But hey, aren't you taking a break?

VM Sehy Photography said...

I'm just glad I don't have to go to such interesting places for my job. I'm wondering if he didn't want to be recognized.

jacksofbuxton said...

Could have been worse Spence,they could have ended the visit with "Is there anything we can offer you as a thank you for coming out?"

Alison said...

Sounds like a very sweaty affair!! I still don't really understand why he would refuse medical help, since you were already there.

Spence Kennedy said...

tpals - Various reasons - some of them won't be 'out', some of them will be married, some would be embarrassed to be seen in a place that's so much about simply having sex. I agree that there shouldn't be any stigma about going to a place simply to have sex with strangers, but I think a lot of people would still feel slightly awkward about it.

fiona - I can't resist writing some of these jobs up. But also I think it's a displacement activity - I should really be finishing the book I'm working on (but doing that's much tougher...!)

VMSP - I def got the impression he wanted to disappear!

JoB - *blush*. But we didn't even get a cup of coffee.

alison - It was actually a v quick job indeed! To be fair, he hadn't called for help - the mgmt had on his behalf. He practically ran away... :/

***

Thanks for all your comments! :)

Helle Kristine Tumbridge said...

In any situation like that, I'd always be worried about poppers and viagra, which can be very not good indeed.

Spence Kennedy said...

It's a potent combination - steam, excitement and something that dilates your blood vessels... :/

Jane said...

Poor man - he was probably so embarrassed.

Spence Kennedy said...

Any more embarrassed and he would have disappeared in a puff of smoke! I did feel sorry for him. We did try to be as reassuring as possible - but if we couldn't get down to towel levelit was never going to work. At least he was fit enough to sprint up the stairs!

The Real Housewife of Greensboro said...

I'm still stuck on the fact that they actually had a sign for the "glory holes". Are you serious?! Who cares about STD's anymore. I guess in there, everyone is clean. NOT! Ewww. Anyway that is horrible. So was it that the receptionist wasn't comfortable with him there because of his appearance or did he just not want to get caught in a gay saunna?

Spence Kennedy said...

Glory holes - sounds like the kind of sign you might see in a National Park.

I was impressed by all the signage, though, even though the place was so small you wouldn't have thought they needed it overmuch. Beats asking, I suppose.

The receptionist didn't mind at all. He was very laid back (the lily side of him - I wonder what happens when the tiger is roused...) The patient absolutely wanted nothing to do with us - certainly didn't want to be escorted out onto the street with a paramedic on either arm. (Prob others there who wouldn't have minded...) :) x

Ashleigh said...

Well, that could've been a lot more awkward..

I was just wondering the other day, Spence, if you ever read the blogs of your commentors?

Merry Christmas to you and yours, pal.. you deserve it :)

Spence Kennedy said...

I'm sure it could (I could've fallen backwards into a potted palm or something).

I do sometimes read other blogs, but plenty of people will tell you I'm hopeless at commenting. And because I'm so poor, I shouldn't really expect anyone to comment on this one, and in truth I don't (although I'm always really glad they do). I suppose it's that lame old excuse of time... if I'm not updating the blog, I'm either listening to music, trying to finish the book, generally running round to little effect, or snacking. I think as far as blogging goes, I'm a pretty poor example - so apologies!

Anyway, I hope you have a great Christmas, Ashleigh, and a very happy New Year.

BIG PICTURE said...

This blog is fantastic, so full of poetic imagery. I'll be coming back for more

Spence Kennedy said...

Thanks, BP!