There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to the pampered American wo-man. It is a dimension as bizarre as Ripley’s and as Russian as Putin. It is the middle ground between mentally scarring and emotionally traumatizing, between totally nakie and bikini optional, and it lies between the fabulous city of San Francisco, and the industrial armpit of Bayview. This is the dimension of Russian bathing. It is an area which we call… The Archimedes Banya.
The short of it is that this particular Friday night began with two bikini-clad chicks wielding a $20 Groupon, and it ended with a disposable plastic baggie full of soggy swimwear and a few broken dreams.
The long of it is that my naive perception of a “banya” paralleled an afternoon spent loafing at Burke Williams Spa. This lap of luxury would include jacuzzis with an illegal amount of jets, saunas occupied by the Sex and the City cast (Stanford included), fancy tap water that would taste vaguely of cucumber and potpourri, and a glass of champagne…or two.
My naive fantasy was horribly misaligned with the shiz that actually happened at the banya– a picture that can be painted by ogling old naked d00dz, flying foliage, boiled wool caps, a smelly middle school cafeteria, hypothermic pools (occupied by aforementioned ogling old naked d00dz), a lot of confusion, and the following video:
While dedicating my Friday night to the banya wasn’t exactly my cup o’ borscht, as our Lyft pulled away from the little piece of Russia, my heart swelled with love for my city which had given me the opportunity to immerse myself into a totally unique cultural pool that night. This swell in my chest could have also been the result of steeping my body in hellish infernos and arctic freezers for a few hours on end. We will never know.