Typical. By Zack Wilson.
Id come out the sauna and I was cooling off on one of the wooden chairs that smells of damp sick. It was a Friday afternoon and Id been training at the gym. The man and woman who knew each other and had talked all the time I was trying to sweat the frustrated thoughts out of my head came and sat on the chairs next to me. I couldnt work out if they were a couple in the shagging sense or friends or if they looked similar enough to be brother and sister. He was stocky, flabby belly showing slightly, pressurising the elastic waistband of his royal blue, thigh length, shiny trunks. His dark, tight-curled hair was patchily grey and neatly trimmed. His face was blandly handsome and he spoke little.
His female companion was tall, as tall as him at least, and dark haired too. Her hair was cut short, and the fact that it was wet made it shapeless. She was slim, with bony awkwardnesses at the angle of elbow and knee. Her face was thin, and the moisture made it look pale and stressed. There was little colour in her lips and eyes, and even the saunas heat had raised only a reluctant, grey pinkishness on her cheeks. She could probably have managed to be kind to a child.
They were talking. She did most of it, but he frequently contributed opinions, most of which she didnt share, and then changed them and agreed with her. I couldnt work out if this was because he was stupid or not. His eyes had a dullness to them that indicated he was probably too thick to just want a quiet life. She presented her views as certainties, and her eyes were not democratic.
I lay back on the wooden seat and tried to relax. A young Asian man came in, dressed in trunks, ready for a sauna. He had a fashionable, spiky haircut and a kind, distinctive face with large eyes. He was small and slim, his skin was a very dark brown. He wandered aimlessly around the room amongst the plastic plants, seeking something, feet slapping on the wet tiles. There was no employee at the reception desk and he seemed to want to ask something. He kept coughing deeply and making rasping noises at the back of his throat.
The wooden chairs we were sitting on were opposite the single shower cubicle. The door of the cubicle allowed you to see how people using the shower arranged their feet to avoid standing on the grill of the drain. The young man, after opening the glass door that lead into the swimming pool and not finding what he was looking for, flapped over to the shower cubicle and entered it. His feet moved to an unnatural width apart, and he hawked and spat into the drain. There was a splat as the globule hit the drain cover. He left the cubicle with a vague grin on his face.
As hed spat, the woman had stopped talking about her boss and fallen silent, an inquisitive and annoyed look on her face. She tried to attract her companions attention and direct it towards the spitting Asian with several aggressive eyebrow motions. He raised his own, and lowered them, with uncertain resignation. She started to mouth words, little silent burps of anger. His eyebrows stayed raised and he twitched his lips. She whispered and I heard, He shouldnt do THAT in there. As the Asian lad walked past us and back towards the swimming pool he smiled uncertainly at the womans look of hatred.
You shouldnt do that in here, love, she said, speaking like women who prefer to be thought of as kind do to thick family members about whom theyre embarrassed. He grinned back, his English wasnt very good yet. You shouldnt do THAT in HERE. She pointed to places on the floor for emphasis. THAT - HERE. He smiled and said hello. You should do THAT, in the TOILET. She pointed to different places on the floor. He smiled again and asked, Where is? What?
You should do that in the toilet. In the toilet. TOILET.
He smiled and made an uncertain interrogative mouth movement, then barely shaped the words, Where is? holding his right hand outward with the palm up and the fingers vertical. She looked hard at him, then turned away and shook her head at her companion. I tried to smile at the Asian lad, but he didnt notice. He walked over the wet tiles and through the glass door into the swimming pool.
That were disgusting, the woman said.
Yeah, her companion agreed, his forehead creasing where the strain of his raised eyebrows seemed to be telling.
Mind you, thats typical of them, int it.
I got up and went back into the sauna. I pissed through that drain grill nearly every visit. I always ticked White British on Equal Opportunities Monitoring forms.
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