For most of this year, my life has been almost entirely solitary. The people I do interact with on a regular basis can be counted on one, or maybe one and a half, hands. And anyone who’s been reading this blog for longer than oh, a day, will know that I like things that way just fine.

One of the biggest downsides to my perpetual solitude is that I find even the slightest violation of it more jarring than ever. Yesterday, I blissfully turned my back on the world and spent my entire afternoon curled up with a book, interrupted only by the strident call of the clothes dryer and the occasional trip to the laundry room to take care of its demands. I seem to have an increasing need to spend time this way, just to reset and live in someone else’s world for a while.

In the late afternoon, I emerged out of my finished book (they go so fast!) and looked around, blinking hazily into the dimness of my living room. Surprise surprise — I was restless. So I hopped on my bike and rode down to the gym, with the sole intention of using the hot tub and sauna there. A great way to end a thoroughly lazy day.

When I got there, I went directly for the sauna, because I saw a man lying by the side of the tub and didn’t much feel like being ogled. Sadly, I wasn’t quick enough to escape his notice. Within minutes, said man was — predictably — coming to join me in the tiny sauna room. So here I am, sweating profusely in my bikini, sitting not two feet to the right of this guy and doing my damnedest to mind my own business. Um, awkward! Personal space much?

To make matters worse, he started talking to me. Seriously — the nerve! Somehow a comment on the heat of the sauna turned into a recap of how much partying he had done this weekend, as if to prove that despite the ample expanse of leathery brown skin I was unwillingly privy to, he was in actuality — no really! — young at heart. Even at my most social, this is a conversation I would gladly have opted out of. But after spending an entire afternoon with my head thoroughly absorbed in fictional realities, characters, and conversations, the absolute last thing I wanted to do was hear about this man’s weekend exploits.

At first, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. I responded by making a few polite noises, pretending like maybe he wasn’t in fact hitting on me while we were both sitting half-naked in a very small, very hot room. I mean c’mon dude, roughly one-third of what I’m wearing consists of a rather large diamond and a gold band. On my left ring finger. Is it really that foggy in here?

Apparently it was very foggy indeed, for despite my silence, his next line was just that: a line. And an old one at that. “So, did you just join the club here?” Read: I haven’t seen your hot young body around before. How could I have made that mistake?

I said, “No I’ve been coming here for a while.” Read: Please for the love of God stop talking to me! With that, I ended the conversation, made some excuse about the heat being up too high for my tastes, and escaped into the hot tub. Luckily I grabbed a magazine on my way in, because sure enough, about thirty seconds later, he followed me out. By this point, he had thankfully gotten the hint, and soon left me alone.

Needless to say, the whole experience set me on edge, and more or less ruined my nice relaxing heat therapy session. After I had biked all the way down there, too! As I said, on any day this would’ve pissed me off. But on my mental health day, my “me” day, in which dialogs both internal and fictional had predominated… that was just sacrilege.

Next time, I will wear a swimsuit that says, “Please — don’t talk to me.” Anti-social? Yes. But worth it? Oh, most definitely.

(My husband suggests something along the lines of what the girl is wearing in the third panel of this comic: )