On a recent trip to New York, a friend of mine was kind enough to gift me a Groupon visit she had to a Russian/Turkish Bathhouse in the East Village. I happily accepted, and trotted over there, looking forward to a hot steam and soak.
I found a sauna oasis inside, and tried each and every steamy option available. The aromatherapy sauna was a little overpowering, although all that mentho-lyptus sure did clean out my sinuses. The redwood sauna felt a little weak on the heat, but was nice for relaxing in. The steam room was, well, awfully steamy.
There was a frigid pool in the center of it all to shock your body back into temperature-regulated reality, but I could only stand it in there for a few seconds, my skin burning from the heat and cold even after I exited the pool. I feel like my father dunked me in those vats of ice water as a child in vain. His intent was to get me back to my Finnish roots, and ostensibly prepare my body for extreme cold, since, obviously, my infant skin would remember the numbing cold and be more resilient to it the next time. Naturally.
The Russian sauna was boss. It was so flippin’ hot in there that you had to dump vats of cold water over the benches, and sit on a towel, and you’d still probably burn your ass. A couple of dudes were bogarting the best spots, adjacent to 2 water spigots that were constantly flowing with ice cold water into 5-gallon buckets that were scattered around so folks could dump cool water over their heads. Oh, what a feeling!
While taking a break from the steamy goodness, I got talked into a mud treatment. At half price, how could I resist? A kind Russian lady slathered my body in mud and I was told to go up to the rooftop patio and bake in the sun for a few minutes. Before I could make it there, a burly staff man with a thick accent smeared a bunch of honey all over my face. It was dripping onto my lips. It was delicious.
I stopped at the bar for a beer on my way up to the roof. The patio was lovely – a calm center in the hustle and bustle of the city, with lounge chairs and a few satisfied customers. I got to chatting with an older gentleman, and he was apparently enjoying my company so much that he gave me $50 cash. I felt a bit like a Geisha in 1940s Japan, being rewarded for my entertainment value. I totally took the cash though. It paid for my mud wrap.
I went back downstairs to get my mud scrubbed off, then get rubbed down with salt and some other substance that’s escaping me right now.
A little steam later I found myself back up on the roof, chatting with another fellow in his 40s and my rich benefactor. The man in his 40s described himself as a Romanian Gypsy, and he kind of looked the part. He was friendly, and asked me if I wanted to grab a felafel and go for a stroll around the neighborhood. He also offered to give me a free massage at his place. This should have been my first warning sign.
I obliged him in a walk and a felafel, being on my own for the day and kind of steamed out, He paid for the falafels, which was nice. We ate them at his place, where he told me Jimi Hendrix and the Mamas and the Papas used to hang out. A historic apartment of sorts, if I can believe him.
He then proceeded to undress me for my massage, actually taking off more clothes than I intended to or even wanted to remove. Dammit, what a terrible day to be wearing a thong. It just… gives the wrong impression in a situation like this.
I found myself struggling to keep my clothes on as he started to give me a massage, and got a little too handsy with it. Uh, my shoulders are actually pretty tense, but my ass requires no kneading at this time.
He kept telling me to relax, but all I could do was tense up against his overly aggressive come-ons. I had to put a stop to the massage, needing some air, and suggested we take a walk.
After we’d gotten a little ways out, I realized I had forgotten my totally awesome purple turban at his house, which was gifted to me by a friend during a magical weekend in Chicago last year. Taffy. I would have to go back for it.
I had told my new friend about my plans to do a topless in NY photo shoot, but about how my plans had been foiled when my photographer friend backed out at the last minute. I even posted an ad on Craigslist, saying that, while I couldn’t afford to pay anything, it would be awesome if a random bored photographer followed me around topless Manhattan for a few hours and gave me copies of the pictures.
Romanian gypsy guy was happy to oblige me in my quest, even though he had no photography experience and the only camera we had was the crappy one that comes with my phone. Feeling more than a little uncomfortable around this guy already, I decided to leave a shredded shirt on, with nothing underneath, so that, while my nips might occasionally pop out, I wasn’t quite topless.
The gypsy kept trying to adjust my top for me to further expose my nipples, rather than telling me to move it. Who does this guy think he is, brazenly fondling my breasts like that?
We passed by some street vendors selling cool hats and I tried one on. It looked pretty badass. The gypsy bought it for me. Least he could do, in my opinion, after such blatant and unwanted fondling. We found a nice little park and stopped there for a minute. As he tried to nuzzle in next to me on the bench, my discomfort was growing. I had to take an Ativan to calm down. This is the first time I’ve ever felt the need to take medication because of overactive flirtations.
All I could think about was getting my turban back, so we headed back for it. Dude made several final attempts at getting into my knickers, and failed.
He’d been singing my praises, talking about how he’d gladly buy me a ticket back to NYC for a visit, about how we should meet up in London for the Olympics.. about how I should totally email him those quasi-topless pics. He talked about how he’d wished for me, and here I was. Oh, crap. I was trying to politely laugh it off, but it wasn’t working.
As soon as he finally realized he was not going to get to have sex with me, his tune changed. He told me he didn’t want me to email him the pictures, didn’t care to ever see or hear from me again. He sat on his bed, pouting, saying how disappointed he was. And upset. I offered to reimburse him for the hat and the felafel, feeling as many women probably feel that accepting gifts from men somehow obligates them for some kind of shenanigans, but he declined my offer.
What, did he really think I was going to give it up for a felafel and a hat? I mean, the hat was cool, and the felafel was tasty, but it wasn’t that tasty.
He asked me to leave and I happily obliged, so relieved to get the hell out of there without getting date-raped.
It really is a shame that some men don’t really value interesting women or their company, but merely a shot at getting into their panties. Once that opportunity is off the table, they cease to be of interest at all. I think there are merits to just hanging out, having interesting conversations, following semi-topless women around the city and goofing around, but I guess not for this chap. For him, it’s all about the pussy. And if he can’t get it, then there’s really no point to any of it, right?
I’m glad to have my cool hat, but sad that it has weird failed mojo vibes attached to it. Perhaps it was my own foolishness for going off with some guy I met at a bathhouse, but, you live and learn.