Sexual tension in a midlands sauna
The intensity I witnessed between a human woman and a divine male was so extreme I had to leave the room
I met a god in the steam room of my local leisure centre. He was young and tall and a white towel was all he had casually wrapped around his waist. He sat on the bench, enveloped in fog, and drew one of his legs up to his chest so that the towel became a veil that might be torn asunder at any moment to reveal something terrible.
At least that’s what it felt like, sitting opposite him, me with my wrinkled limbs and enormous pot belly. Then a young woman entered and almost slipped on the tiles when she saw his towel. She spread herself on the bench near to him, her legs stretched in the direction of the god, and she lay back and started talking, babbling, as if she needed to, or was obliged to, or had been ordered to by some official at reception, with the words: “Go in there and humour that god in case he eats us all alive.”
She asked him where he was from.
“Russia,” he replied.
“And how are you enjoying Ireland?”
“It is a peetee it is raining.”
“Oh, but last week we had sunshine,” she declared. “All the time. Well all day, of course. I mean, not at night. Silly me.”
She laughed but he didn’t seem amused.
“The sun also in Russia last week but also, sometimes, rain,” he muttered. He was losing interest.
“Is that a fact,” she said. “That’s fascinating.”
Then he looked at me as if I too were a god.
“How are you enjoying Ireland?” He inquired.
“Actually, I am Irish,” I confessed.
The woman stretched on the bench beside me rose and shook herself like a twig shaking off raindrops and left the room. I think I was irritating her. My presence was ruining any possibilities she might have with his lordship. So she left me and the god alone in the steam. He looked at me closely through the fog, and said, with such intensity that I felt nervous: “I didn’t think you were Irish.”
I said: “I’ve only been to Russia once. I was en route to Mongolia. But they kept me in the airport transit area because I didn’t have a visa.”
I added, with a chuckle: “A bit like Edward Snowden.” But he didn’t laugh.
He said: “I came from Russia in a helicopter. I stopped over in many places. And last Tuesday I was in London and I was talking to a friend who said Ireland was very beautiful and so I decided to come over.”
“In your helicopter?”
“You have it with you?”
“Of course. It’s outside the door.”
Then the woman returned. She had a towel with her this time and it was tied around her waist like a skirt. Fortunately she still had her swimming costume on, but the towel was a definite indication that she wished to emulate his style and perhaps even be absorbed by him and become one with the god.
She lay down on the bench again. He stretched the leg that had been up at his chest and then raised the other leg up so that the towel, which was now a dripping rag in the steam, left his groin even more exposed and the sense of intensity I felt between the human woman and the divine male was so extreme that I had to leave the room before I fainted. I sat for a while in the jacuzzi, which is always cool in the morning, and it calmed me down.
Later, as I was leaving, I saw the helicopter. It was just as he said, outside the main entrance to the hotel. I wanted to go up and touch it because I had not, of course, dared touch the god’s body, for fear he might misconstrue my sexual orientation or for fear the lady stretched before him might scream: “Leave him alone! He’s mine!”
But I didn’t touch the helicopter either. I went home and had tea with some Ryvita and a boiled egg, and by the time I had reached the dregs of the tea and was outside gazing at the lake I heard him. The buzzing of the chopper came to me first and then a few minutes later, I saw the craft in the sky above me, moving slowly over the roof, and then across the lake, towards Fermanagh. But I could not tell if the human woman was with him or if he was all alone up there in the clouds.