I entered the sauna and it was pretty full: faces, towels, varicose veins. Most of the occupants had bunched at the door as if expecting a fire alarm to go off at any moment, so I put on what I thought was my most “excuse me” smile and stepped past most of the legs, faces, people, up onto the top of the two benches that ran the length of the two furthest walls, and turned and sat directly where the two walls intersected. I had to set my back against the wall gingerly because it was just that hot in there.

Silence for a breadth, then the man sitting nearest to me got to his feet and fetched the empty pail and the ladle sitting next to the bank of hot rocks near the sauna exit.

“Mind if I get some more water to create some steam in here?”

To which the other people in the sauna all agreed excitedly, exclaiming various types of affirmative gestures: here an enthusiastic hand wave, there a loud “ohhhh yesss.” It felt to me that everyone was a little too excited for the idea of adding some water to a bunch of heated rocks, but shit, maybe these people were just that jazzed about everything, the kind of people that view life as a ripe fruit dangling loosely from a fertile tree, begging to be plucked and bit into, fruit soft and wet, the juices running down their chin.

He moved to exit, and then he was held in place by a small murmur. “Actually…”

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