Author Archives: classygallie

The Russian Bathhouse

It’s been almost two years.

It’s been almost two years, and I think I’m finally ready to talk about it. About the time I went to a Russian bathhouse.

A Russian bathhouse—or banya—according to Wikipedia, can refer to a number of types of steam baths popular in Eastern Europe. A Russian bathhouse, according to me, is an underground swamp hell, built of germs and hair and sweat where overweight Russian men glisten and beat patrons with branches.

In 2014, I went to one for my cousin’s birthday.

This cousin’s name is Caitlin. If there ever existed an objective list of the world’s most fun, pleasant people, Caitlin would be at the top. So, two years ago, when I found out she’d be celebrating her birfday in New York City (she lived in Puerto Rico at the time), I traveled down to meet up with her and join in on the festivities.

The festivities were fly. Caitlin, her friends, and I ate hamburgers on English muffins and drank drinks with alcohol and I think even danced dances, maybe. The next morning we ate bagels and peanuts and more hamburgers. By Sunday afternoon, we were engorged with meat and booze—and while the process to get there had been fun, we felt and smelt like beefy alcoholics.

Caitlin decided a trip to the Russian Turkish baths in Manhattan would reverse our feelings of beefish alcoholism. She told me that when she still lived in New York, she and her friend Nikki would go there all the time. It was really hot and intense, Caitlin said, but wonderful and rejuvenating.

“Well, I despise heat and intensity,” I said. “But don’t I love wonder and rejuvenation. Plus, I trust your judgment. I’m horrified by the sounds of this, but I will join you.”

“Word!” said Caitlin. “We’ll just have to buy some bathing suits first. I think today’s a non-naked day.”

If you’re ever invited somewhere, and you’re told it’s a “non-naked day,” I suggest you shout NAH THANKS PLAYA and turn the eff around. If a place a business has naked days and non-naked days, I promise it’s not the type of establishment you want to mess with. That’s important advice I did not learn until after I went to the Russian bathhouse.

We bought bathing suits at a department store in Brooklyn called Bobby’s. No disrespect to Bobby’s, but their bathing suit selection is … straight covered in pudding. For real—the day we went, every bathing suit available at Bobby’s had been manhandled by grimy pudding fingers. I bet you’re thinking, Pudding? Why do Bobby’s customers got such pudding hands?

Here’s a secret just between you and me, homie: Bobby’s customers probably don’t have pudding hands—they probably have poop or blood hands. But we told ourselves it was pudding because Caitlin’s friend Nikki was already waiting for us at the bathhouse, and the train was coming, and we needed bathing suits—poop, blood, and pudding be damned. I chose a shiny blue bathing suit and Caitlin chose a pretty teal one, neither of which we tried on, for $3.99 each. Then we went to the bathhouse.

When we got there, several men with round, gleaming stomachs greeted us. They were all half naked, sitting at tables, eating pork and mashed potatoes.

“Hey,” I whispered to Caitlin. “What’s going on with all this pork? Where are the garments for these men? THIS ALL SEEMS VERY STRANGE TO ME.”

“Come on, there’s Nikki. Let’s get our locker keys,” said Caitlin.

We got our keys and then went into the locker room, which was located directly off the pork café and had only the flimsiest of saloon-style doors.

“I like how these doors swing so freely,” I thought. “A very nice quality for locker room doors.” (My thoughts were hella sarcastic that day.)

We changed. Since it was towards the end of winter, I hadn’t seen myself in a bikini in a while—and I’d never seen myself in a bikini quite as sleazy as the one I got from Bobby’s. There was an alarming amount of pale flesh and dark hair (and I’m on the blonde spectrum, fam!). It was as if someone had dropped an industrial-sized batch of white bread dough on a dog groomer’s floor, picked it up, and then stuffed it into a glimmering string bikini.

“Yo, peep this,” I said to Caitlin, turning toward her. “I look like someone dropped an industrial-sized batch of—WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU?!”

“I …” said Caitlin. “Something’s gone astray.”

Nothing had gone astray with Caitlin—something had gone astray with her bathing suit. It was tiny. So crazy tiny. Child’s size small tiny. Which makes sense, because that’s the size bikini she’d purchased, child’s size small. It covered about 1/50th of her body, but that didn’t matter. She still had to wear it. And wear it she did! Right down into the depths of the bathhouse.

Imagine, right now, that you are sitting in a room. That room is made of stone blocks and is 130 degrees and has at least an inch of water on the floor. You’re wearing a dirty, undersized bathing suit, likely with someone else’s poop or blood or pudding on it. There are 25 other people in the room with you, some of them touching you, most of them grunting or moaning, all of them sweating like old men eating plates of pork and mashed potatoes. Scummy soap bubbles build up around your feet, and a couple branches float by. You find a long strand of hair between your fingers, from a different color spectrum than your own, fam. Two men start shouting at you in Russian.

That’s a bathhouse.

If you want to make it extra terrible, like Caitlin did, you can purchase a platza treatment. Doing so will get you 20 minutes of being violently attacked with branches and contorted in unnatural positions by a burly Russian man. She loved it; I did not. I did not even like watching it. I felt like the worst Samaritan of all time, standing there not doing anything while my cousin got the shit beaten out of her on her birthday.

After an hour and a half—an hour and a half of simmering in the sweat of strangers in a literal cesspool—we left. On the way out, the man who had whipped Caitlin with branches gave her a hug and promised the next visit would be on the house. I told you, she is objectively the world’s most fun, enjoyable person.

On the drive home back to Maine, I had the driver’s side window cracked. It was precipitating a wintry mix that day, and a plow truck in the southbound lane sprayed some slush across the median and it hit me right in the face. It was amazing actually, how fully it got me. A straight up white wash.

For scale: The experience of having a pound of gritty slush smack me in the face while driving on the highway was at least 16 times better than going to a Russian bathhouse.

All right, did it. I told my story, and now I will never speak of it again. (Unless you want to go, in which case I’m in.)

 

Advertisements

What to do when you invest all your money and then the market crashes and you quit your job

After several years of watching the stock market, I finally bought some of it. I went through a ridiculous rigmarole to get set up to invest through an investment company, and then I invested the majority of my savings. I won’t tell you how much exactly because that there ain’t none of your business.

That was in November. I invested in a total stock market ETF, which means that rather than investing in a couple companies—like Apple or Facebook—I invested in all of the companies. Or most of the companies. I don’t exactly know, but it’s something like that.

Anyway, I invested some money. I felt responsible and mature and rich. The stock market had been doing well and, I figured, would probably continue to trend upward. For a little while, it did. And then it did not.

The stock market straight sucks right now.

POOP

POOP

It took a giant poop dive (that’s a nosedive but into a pool of poop) and I lost a bunch of money. Again, the exact amount ain’t none of your business. Plus, to be honest, I don’t know the exact figure. But I’ve lost enough that it sucks. Losing five bucks sucks, and I’ve lost considerably more than five bucks.

Beyond that, I’ve also recently made the decision to quit my stable, decent paying job, and not because I have another job lined up. I intentionally do not have another job lined up, in fact. So not only have I lost money in the stock market, but I’ve also lost my source of income.

What does a person do when these things happen?

A person keeps her money in the stock market, because as long as humans continue to innovate it’ll probably return to pre-poop dive levels one day, and if she sells now then she’s really losing that money forever.

A person stops spending all her money on stupid shit like diet Snapple and fancy trail mix and crazy backcountry tents that she thinks she’ll use one day but of course never, ever will.

A person … I don’t know.  What else does a person do? You tell me. Please. It appears I am stupid and have made a series of very poor decisions.

On attractiveness and fanciness

Looking good is fun. Like, dressing up, wearing jewels and makeup and, I don’t know, barrettes? It’s fun. Makes you feel good. Makes you feel attractive and fancy, and that’s what life is about, ain’t it?

No, WRONG-O, life is not about those things. I’m not sure what life is about, but it’s not about looking good and being fancy. It’s probably about other things, like reproduction and survival.

Oh, looking good is what gets you a mate? And fanciness, as a display of wealth, is proportional to your ability to survive in the industrialized world? P’shaw. I heartily reject that baloney.

Imagine you meet someone. For sake of this argument, this someone is a man and a babe. He’s wearing a well-tailored suit and has an expensive hairstyle. He smells good. Nice, straight teeth. Muscled shoulders. You think, “One day, I’mma marry that man.”

One day, you do. And boy, he looks fly in those wedding pictures.

Chances are, you just got TOOKED. Any asshole can trick you into marrying them. That handsome man, he might suck. So many people suck, and the people who care the most about looking good are probably the ones who suck the hardest. This handsome man won’t want to chill with you, he’ll be busy getting his suits tailored and beauty snoozing while wearing his retainer. And when he’s not doing those things, he’s probably strutting around town, primping and preening and seeking admiration from others.

That’s not say all handsome men are scoundrels, nor all beautiful women. But definitely some are. Don’t let their looks sway you, and don’t let your looks sway others. You should aim to be as unattractive as possible. Got a chiseled jaw? Cover that up with scraggle beard. Got a neat butt? Wear puffy poodle skirts so no one can see. Then, when you meet someone and decide they’re worthy of your love, you can shave your beard and show off your donk. It’ll be a wonderful surprise for all parties involved.

As for fanciness being a symbol of your ability to survive, that’s bull, too. If you’re wearing diamonds and going on extravagant vacations to show the world how rich you are, you’re actually threatening your survival. Bad people gonna wanna kill you for all those riches, and the Earth gonna wanna kill you for your big ass carbon footprint. Motherfunk that frivolous display of wealth. Instead, show us aggressive saving habits and a frugal lifestyle. That’s how we’ll really know you got money in the bank to pay for our homes and medical bills.

A note: I wrote this because I looked stupid today and am soon to be unemployed. There’s a decent chance life is about looking good and being fancy. IDK.

(I used italics to emphasize “is” back there. Cool, wasn’t it? We got to bring italics back.)

WebCG: Sprained Nickelboob

Welcome to WebCG, the classygallie.com version of WebMD. WebCG provides valuable health information. Note: Just kidding. Nothing you’ll find here is at all valuable. I’m not a doctor and I don’t know your business, so do not believe anything you read here and certainly do not take it as legitimate medical advice.

Sprained nickelboob
Sprained nickelboob is a slightly uncomfortable condition of the human nickelboob. The nickelboob is that triangle-shaped, nickel-like indentation centered smack dab between the boobs. Also known as the xiphoid or xiphoid process, it’s where your ribs connect to your sternum. If you twist or reach the wrong way, it can get tore up. If it does, it hurts a little bit. Not enough to totally wreck your day, but enough to make you want to complain about it.

In some circles, sprained nickelboob is also known as costochondritis. Those circles are typically hella nerdy, the kind doctors run in.

Xiphoid_process_frontal

I call this “human nickelboob.” Others call it “Xiphoid process frontal” by Anatomography – Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.1 jp

Causes
Moving in a funny way that your body doesn’t like. It could be just one funny movement or a lifetime of funny movements. I guess you could get it if you have a cold and you’re coughing like crazy. Or you could get it if you’re way too hard on your nickelboob in general. There are probably lots of causes. I don’t know like I said I’m not a doctor.

Symptoms
Painful nickelboob, especially when you move funny or someone pushes down on it really hard (a doctor, for instance). I recently sprained my own nickelboob and goddamn did a doctor push the crap out of it.

When to seek medical care
Here’s the deal: If it’s really just a sprained nickelboob/costochondritis, a doctor’s visit is probably overkill. You’ll be told to apply ice and heat to it and to take over-the-counter pain medication to reduce discomfort. It’ll probably heal pretty quick and you’ll be back to pain-free nickelboobing.

That said, a hurty chest is a symptom of a lot of scary health conditions and it’s best to know whether or not you’ve got any of them. A doctor will check all your vitals to make sure business is in good working order. They’ll want to make sure that you’re breathing fine and that your legs aren’t swollen, numb, or otherwise acting kookily. They’ll also want to make sure you’re not feeling nauseated or feverish. They’ll take care of you. It’s never a bad idea to have a doctor check a hurty chest.

Cures
Time. Time heals all nickelboobs.

How to spend a snow day

Snow days are boring.

I know, I know. We love them. Ain’t many things better than a snow day, right? They get us out of school and work, and we sure do like getting out of school and work. School and work are not the greatest. But know what is the greatest? Being smart and having money. Both of those things are fantastic, and that’s what school and work will get you.

Know what a snow day will get you? Dirty teeth, dirty underpants, and about 24 hours of house arrest. (You know you’ve had at least one snow day where you didn’t brush your choppers or change your unders, don’t you dare say otherwise.)

I had a snow day this past Saturday. I’m not sure if a snowy weekend day can be considered a true snow day, but since I now work at a corporation that means serious business, weekend snow days are the only ones I get.

This snow day was ever more boring than most because I was alone. My parents and Chico were in Connecticut and Curtis was at some foosball game, so it was just Dizzy and me. Here’s a tattoo I once gave myself while at work, but was also appropriate for this snow day:

kn

A very cool, reasonable thing for an adult woman to write on herself.

Not long into Saturday’s boring snow day, I decided, “Nay, today will not be a waste. Today, you finna do some things.”

I did do some things, and I felt all right about them. I’d like to share what I did with anyone else who’s looking for a productive way to pass a snow day.

Things to do on a snow day, especially if you’re in the crib by your lonesome

Clean out your wallet
If your wallet is fat as hell with old receipts and other pieces of crap, throw those things away. While cleaning out my wallet, I found a receipt for a post office in Puerto Rico and an expired coupon for a butcher shop. A butcher shop! As if I’m some type of cosmopolitan, buying my meats from a butcher. No way, José. I make my meat purchases at the grocery store.

Take a shower
Showers sometimes suck. On a snowy winter’s day, though, a shower is tight. Hop into that steamy stream with a couple of carrots and a glass of Diet Coke, you’ll have yourself a right old time.

Shovel your driveway
Shoveling your driveway doesn’t sometimes suck—it always sucks. It is not at all an enjoyable way to pass a couple hours. I gots a question for you though: Do you go to the gym? Do you run on treadmills or ellipse on elliptical machines? Because shoveling is a workout too, and it is 100 times better than running on some damn treadmill. Think about that word even, treadmill. A mill for your treads, a factory for your steps! Every time you use a treadmill, that’s unpaid labor. That’s unjust.

Holy moly. I just Googled “treadmill history” and learned they were invented in the 1800s as an instrument of prison discipline.

Shovel your driveway. Get exercise the moral way.

Drink apple juice
Apple juice is bomb, why wouldn’t you want to drink it? Have yourself a glass or two, you’ll deserve it after all that snow shoveling. Maybe take it into the shower with you, even.

Watch Pretty Woman for the first time
It’s a movie that plays for free on TV, why wouldn’t you want to watch it?

I missed the first half hour when I watched it and I have a serious request. Can anyone explain to me a premise that justifies Richard Gere hiring a prostitute that’s almost half his age? Seriously, I need some help understanding it. Are we supposed to accept that, sometimes, perfectly decent men sometimes pay for lovin? Richard Gere’s character seemed like a nice enough dude (and certainly dreamy enough), but how is he not a creep? Am I wrong for assuming all johns are scoundrels? If Julia Roberts can look past it, should I too? Someone please explain.

Bake a pizza
Since you’re home by yourself, you’ll get to eat as much of it as you want. Happy Snow Day to you!

Go to bed a 9pm
It’s just a good time to go to bed, no matter the circumstances.

By the way I was joshing you earlier. Snow days are dope, you and I both know that. Hope this list helps make your next snow day a real good one.

Support the Rabid

Once, my sister Chris and her husband, Matt, woke me up in the middle of the night by pretending to be chainsaw-wielding murderers. Another time, they got an elderly Austrian woman (likely some sort of witch) and her cat to scare the crap out of me on a mountain. And yet another time, they terrorized me in my sleep with the tiniest and most bourgeois of weapons: a milk frother.

You can read about some of those experiences here, if you wish.

Recently, they gave me another scare, and it’s maybe the worst yet. ‘Twas a rabies scare.

Around Christmastime, I go to Chris and Matt’s house in Pennsylvania. I’ve gone there for the last three years and it’s a tradition that, until now, I’d planned to continue. I like Pennsylvania, and I like Chris’s cooking, and—mostly—I like their children. Love ‘em a lot, actually. Look at how lovable they are, even when you can’t see their faces!

12292015_HC-11

I didn’t want to show their faces. Too many weird peeps on these interwebs.

12292015_CT-1

This year, I went to their house the Monday before Christmas. As always, my dog Dizzy came with me. Over the past few years, Dizzy and I have established quite a nice Pennsylvania routine. We play with children, beg for meals, poop with the door open, and sleep in the third floor bedroom.

Up until the early hours of Wednesday morning, that routine ran very well for us. But it was in those early Wednesday hours that something changed. I woke up to the sound of flapping wings.

First, a brief aside: Except for college, I’ve lived in the same old house in rural Maine my entire life. The house is real old—maybe over 200 years old—and has a barn attached. I’ve seen plenty of mice and snakes and squirrels running round indoors in my day. But what I’ve never seen is no flappin ass bats flappin round indoors.

Back to last Wednesday. I was sleeping in the third floor bedroom, with Dizzy at my side, when the sound of flapping ass wings woke me up.

“Huh,” I thought. “Sounds like a winged creature.”

I opened my eyes, and not at all to my surprise, there was a winged creature ping ponging between the walls, flapping around like a fool.

Things moved real fast after I confirmed the winged creature’s existence. I shouted “WHAT DA FUCK,” grabbed the covers, and threw them over my head. My phone was on the bedside table. I snuck my hand out and snatched it real quick to dial Chris. It was 2:47 a.m., but by the miracle of crying babies, she was awake.

Chris: Hello?
Allie: I got the blankets over my head, there’s a bird or a bat or something in here. Save me.
Chris: What? You’re stuck in the blankets?
Allie: NAY, I SAY THERE’S A BIRD OR A BAT OR SOMETHING.
Chris: Oh. We’ll be right up.

Chris seemed very calm, and I suppose she should have been. Since moving into their house, Chris and Matt have seen a couple of bats, including one in their bed. Knowing that, I guessed the winged creature was almost certainly a bat rather than a bird.

Knowing also that bats sometimes carry rabies, I thought I should try to get Dizzy under the covers too. The dude wouldn’t move. When he’s asleep, he could not care less about what’s going on in the waking world. A squirrel could scamper up our bed and use Dizzy’s teeth to crack open an acorn and homie still wouldn’t rustle.

“Suit yourself,” I told him. “Shit you vaccinated anyway, li’l puppy dog.”

After a minute, Chris and Matt arrived outside my bedroom door. It had been shut the whole time, which is why I went under the covers in the first place—I didn’t want to open the door to run out and have it flapping around loose in the house.

Matt came in and turned on the light while I stayed securely under the covers.

“It is a bat,” said Matt. “I’ll catch it in my hat. Maybe I’ll give it to the cat.”

Nah just playing, he didn’t say all that. He did truly say it was a bat, though. Then he caught it with a butterfly net, which they keep in the crib for situations bazackly like the one we were in.

Once I knew it was caught, I took the covers off my head.

“Good job. That was hella spooky.”

Matt suggested I leave the bedroom while he got the bat out of there. I didn’t have any pants on and told Matt as much (what kind of sicko sleeps in pants?). He didn’t mind, so I scooted out.

He put the bat in a box and taped it up. Apparently if a bat’s in a room with a sleeping person, you got to get it tested for rabies. I was fairly certain I didn’t get bit, pooped upon, or drooled upon, but I guess it’s possible they can bite you without you even knowing. Plus, seeing as I’m a hypochondriac, I would have never slept again if it hadn’t gotten tested.

The results came back negative, which means the bat didn’t have rabies and neither do I, even if the adorable little monster had nibbled on me (which I’m sure it didn’t).

In the end, it was only another scare at the hands of Chris and Matt.

P.S. R.I.P. Sweet Bat. I’m really sorry humans build beautiful, warm houses and then kill lovely creatures like you when you seek shelter within them.

Friendsgiving

This is going to be very controversial.

Friendsgiving doesn’t make any sense and is dumb.

Wait! Before you get all upset here’s the truth.

I don’t mean that Friendsgiving, as an event, doesn’t make any sense. I’ve never attended one but by the looks of all the pictures in my Instagram feed, Friendsgiving, as an event, makes plenty of sense. A bunch of friends gather to eat good food and drink good drinks together. That sounds logical enough.

What doesn’t make sense is its awful name. Friendsgiving. You know what that name implies? THAT YOU’RE GIVING YOUR FRIENDS AWAY. On Thanksgiving, you give thanks; on Friendsgiving, you give friends. What the heck you doing that for? Pass them over here. I’ll take your poor friends, you monsters.

That’s it. I don’t like the word Friendsgiving. But have a happy Thanksgiving!