I was sitting in the steam room today, happily pretending to myself that being at the gym was the same as going to the gym and I became embroiled in a conversation with a chap who was relaxing on the upper shelf.
Because of the volume of steam in the room and the earlier loss of my left contact lens, I had no idea as to whether my companion was a toned and tanned Adonis or just a fat man in a sweaty room. So I erred on the side of caution, yanked on my core and pulled in my wobbly bits just in case.
The conversation started after a few embarrassing squelching sounds had passed between us. The first, from his side of the room, sounded suspiciously like an actual fart rather than a steam room sticky slippy sound. I may have shamed myself slightly when he said;
“Oh excuse me.”
And I followed with;
“It’s fine – I do it all the time.”
I meant I make sticky slippy steam room sounds, but I fear he may have thought that I was accustomed to parting with my wind in front of complete strangers in a steam room environment. There really was no way of knowing what he thought as the steam was blinding and I couldn’t see his reaction.
I was quite glad at this point to only have 50% vision and a wall of steam between us.
But this brief encounter did mean that the lines of communication were now open between us and further conversation ensued.
We both discussed our workouts, I gleefully shared the story of a utterly made up, vigorous, session in the gym. I may have been pushing it when I claimed I had planked for five minutes, but the steam was heavy and hid the depth of my lie. I was exhausted when I finished explaining my 5 mile fictional jog on the treadmill and already picturing the huge hot chocolate I was going to consume as a reward for my imaginary efforts.
Soon, talk of exercise gave way to speak of children and my companion confessed he was a grandpa. Without hesitation I released my stomach muscles and allowed my stomach to slowly wrap itself around my middle like a scarf sheltering what was once my waist.
Lordy that felt better.
He had a three year old granddaughter and we had common ground because of BB being the same age. We chatted on, gleefully sharing the wonder of pre schoolers. Between us we filled the steamroom up with love as we talked about the perfection of the small people in our lives. I waxed lyrical about all I love about BB, and almost managed to forget about the tantrum that she had earlier when I mistakenly presented her with jeans to wear. I had stupidly not realised that she had telepathically beamed a message to me from her bedroom requesting that she wore a Peppa Pig t shirt and blue frilly skirt with flowers embroidered on the trim that day.
The punishment for my crime was thirty minutes of feet stomping and shouting until I collapsed under the mental strain and anguish and calmed her down with allowing her to have chocolate bourbons for breakfast.
However, in the steam room, my little angel was simply perfection wrapped up in a bow.
Eventually we drew to a close, and stopped sharing stories about our wonderful pre schoolers, and a comfortable silence fell over the hot, sweaty, room.
Then I heard it.
It was so quiet I almost missed it because of the slow hiss of the steam but I just caught the words.
“Sometimes though, she can be more terrifying than a hungry tiger and harder work than a full time job.”
I sat upright in the steam room, creating an unique sloppy suctioning noise as my back parted company with the plastic wall.
“Oh my God, mine too,” I exclaimed, then quickly followed up with, “that was a steam room fart, not a me fart.”
I felt after the earlier conversation, clarification was necessary, plus we had just crossed a significant line from talking horseshit to actual hometruths, we were now clearly soulmates.
“I put milk on her cereal this morning and she cried for an hour,” he confessed, “she didn’t want the snap, crackle or pop.”
I reassured him this was normal and told him about the time BB had denounced me as her parent because I wouldn’t let her wear my new Mac Mascara.
We carried on this way for while, sharing war stories until eventually I started to feel light headed from the steam and had to say goodbye.
I do feel sad, the steam was too thick as I left the room and my half sight meant I still couldn’t see my steamroom soulmate, so I left never really knowing who he was.
But I know I will think of him often, when this road we call parenting becomes bumpy and hard to walk across.
I am no longer alone in my parental battles. I have a soulmate, and I met him in the steam room.
I am going to try the Jacuzzi next week, who knows what could happen. Plus bubbles are more socially acceptable than wet fartlike steamroom sounds.