Sweatin’ with the weirdies

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People say the craziest thing in the sauna. On Sunday, I entered the hot room at around 7 pm, typically a busy hour. This time, it was just me and a woman wearing black garbage bags, an outfit she referred to as her “sauna suit.” She wore it for its apocryphal fat-melting power, which she learned about from a woman who lost 62 pounds in five-hour, plastic-clothed sauna shifts.

“She was wearing leather pants and everything,” my sweat buddy said, admitting that she heard later that the woman gained back all the weight during a “bad divorce.”

“He left her for a thinner woman anyway,” the woman, let’s call her Sauna Suit, concluded grimly.

The story reminded me of another friend I made on the sauna’s wooden bench, a relentlessly toned personal trainer who was worried about gaining weight. She had the body mass index of an underfed cat, so I asked about the origin of her fear. She explained that she had just moved to Carroll Gardens.

“I used to eat cannoli paste from the tube,” she said.

I decided then to never ask questions in a sauna.

I also never respond to unwanted advice with anything deeper than a nod. That rule came about when a friend’s sweaty review of my recent breakup was interrupted by a naked woman who said that I had to do what’s best for me, “not him.”

It was one banal sauna exchange, however, that made me realize how, well, heated, conversations there can get. The incident began with two towel-clad women debating the merits of hiring a math tutor who uses astrology to explain algebra to number-shy middle school students.

“Do you think it would be too flaky?” one asked the other. The question bounced around the wooden room until suddenly, everyone decided to offer an answer. Kids have to learn somehow, one nude mom said, a tinge of sympathy for the apparent underachiever.

But another woman, with some disdain, said she thought it was “simple” and closed-minded to doubt the educational power of the age-old lunar science. I left when the conversation strayed to the alterna-moms’ tales of parents-only “mistletoe” bashes. Don’t ask, don’t tell.

Now it’s July and I expect the conversations will only get spicier as our sense of decorum is gradually sweated out. Go for a good time — sauna suit optional.

The Kitchen Sink

Boerum Hill activist Jill Harris is hosting a fundraiser for term-limited Councilman Bill DeBlasio. The e-vite to the July 9 benefit conspicuously mentions no specific race for DeBlasio, who has hinted at a run for Borough President and even Secretary of State in a Clinton Administration. Interested? E-mail …

Our Community Board 6 pal, Bob Zuckerman, has been hired to lead the Gowanus Canal Community Development Corporation and the newly formed Gowanus Canal Conservancy. Zuckerman has been the executive director of the Greenwich Village–Chelsea Chamber of Commerce for two and one-half years. Who says Gowanus will never be the Village?

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