Okay. Let me preface this story by saying, I am always painfully aware of, and and polite to old people. I always offer my seat on the train, and I have gone out of my way to help older folks when the situation calls for it–sometimes way out of the way. (See why Helping the Elderly is Dangerous)
However, on this particular day, I was feeling a little….I dunno, selfish I guess. My friend Julie and I were on our bi-annual Japantown spa retreat and my only mission was to try, for a few hours, to live the impossible dream of “relaxation”
So, there I was, sprawling on top of a long wooden plank bench. Cooling off from the dry sauna, and drinking some ice water with a refreshing lemon slice. Doing what I do best: staring creepily at strangers.
I watched as an older woman got out of the hot tub. She looked to be in her late 60’s. Red-faced, and not at all serene looking. In fact she seemed to be distressed, and as she walked towards my bench, she threw me a withering look. “Oh dear. Should I do something?” I wondered. “Should I ask if she’s okay? If she needs help? Should I offer my bench even though she hasn’t asked for it? IS THAT WHAT SHE’S TRYING TO TELL ME?”
Instead I did nothing. An impish little voice in my head said “Slow your roll, boss. Let her be. If she wants the bench she’ll ask for it. Just cuz she’s old doesn’t mean she’s in distress. Just enjoy your bench, and your lemon water, honky.”
So I did. I leaned back. I did not offer the older lady my bench. I felt a little bit guilty, but the guilt soon melted away into something relatively- akin to relaxation. (Since I’ve never in my life achieved full relaxation, the best I can ever hope for is merely a non-spastic state).
Not long after, another woman got out of the hot pool, and walk towards my bench. This woman was much older than the previous woman (probably in her 80’s). I am loathe to admit, my first thought was “Wow, so much old naked flesh, a comin’ right at me! AAAAK!” Stretch marks. Sag bags. Wobbly puckered thighs. Intricate webs of purple veins climbing up her legs like ivy. Breasts that pointed down to the earth like arrows–pointing to the place where you, me, she and all of the rest of us, will one day sleep forever.
Understand that while I was quietly horrified, I was also feeling shitty for being horrified, because I truly do believe all body shapes and sizes and ages should be celebrated–ESPECIALLY the olds! If someone gets to 80 and they can still enjoy a good soak in a spa, we should throw confetti, and shout hallelujah at their miraculous staying power. Instead I’m thinking “Ew, gross. So much weird saggy skin! Wobblies! Blue and purple floppyflaps. Death!!!”
As the old woman walked past me, she let a mighty one rip. A big, bullhorn fart that reverberated a few moments, and left me tits-deep in a cloud of sulfur.
I sat up, grabbed my towel, and vacated the bench. I made a beeline to the water cooler, and then back to the dry sauna. As I opened the door to the dry sauna, I looked over my shoulder, and saw that the wobbly old woman was now on the bench where I was laying only a minute ago–apparently immune to her own noxious fumes.
Good for her, I thought. Brilliant strategy. I then scribbled a mental bucket-list note: “Learn how to fart on command, to get whatever seat you want.”
And that’s my tale. Thanks for reading.