Play-a-week Project

1-26-19

In the Russian and Turkish Baths. It’s Steamy.

SAM
I have a punch card.

JAN
Blue card.

SAM
Yes

JAN
Red card is David’s shift; blue card is Boris’ shift.

SAM
And who are you?

JAN
I am Jan. I assist during both shifts.

SAM
Oh.

JAN
David is out.

SAM
So it’s Boris’ shift.

JAN
No.

SAM
So it’s...your shift?

JAN
No it is David’s shift.

SAM
But—

JAN
David takes care of external errands during his shift, and Boris also exits on his shift.
He says errands, but
He comes back with his hands smelling like garlic
So who can be sure.

SAM
Then who takes care of the baths?

JAN
Me. Jan.
(He extends his hand.)

SAM
Last time I was here, someone punched my card and that was that.

JAN
Who someone?

SAM
Tall man

JAN
Mm

SAM
Meaty man

JAN
Hm

SAM
Fiery red hair and scraggly beard.
Very round brown eyes with laugh lines around the edges—but very serious in the mouth. Barrel chest and calloused hands with slightly dirty fingernails. An ear piercing. Tight T-shirt that said ASK ME ABOUT MY STEAMROOM across the chest.

JAN
You describe both.
Next time just reference the chart

(He takes out a red and blue checkered chart. It is very complicated and the font is size 10.)

SAM
What do the purple boxes mean?

JAN
Closed for private event.

SAM
People rent out Russian baths for a private event?

JAN
They’re Russian and Turkish
David and Boris.

SAM
Which one is—

JAN
Guess.

SAM
Are the private events like a sex thing?

JAN
What?

SAM
Because they’re in the saunas and the—

JAN
This is a health establishment.

SAM
—And the steam rooms.

JAN
Corporate teambuilding retreats.
Are mostly the private events.
A good schvitz encourages creative ideation. To more effectively leverage your team’s bandwith.
We have pamphlets if you’re interested.

SAM
No thank you.

JAN
OK.

(A moment. SAM looks around.)

SAM
And you are here during both shifts?

JAN
I’m half Turkish, half Russian.

SAM
So you founded this place?

JAN
The Turkish and Russian Baths were founded in 1892. I am 34 years old.

SAM
Really? You look much younger.

JAN
I stand in steam all day. It keeps me fresh, like a bag of microwavable broccoli
Or a silk tie
Or the air in a kitchen after the teapot has screamed.

SAM
I have a Macedonian relative. So not Turkish but—that’s close, right?

JAN
The Macedonians make an awful stew.

SAM
Only if you don’t salt them correctly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

JAN
I was orphaned.

SAM
Oh!

JAN
Then I was adopted. Then I did 23 and Me.

SAM
Oh coooooooooooooooool.

JAN
Received Groupon.
Found out I was 50% Turkish and 50% Russian and 1% Other
Not sure were the extra 1% comes from. Or what lurks within it.
Improper fraction—it’s why I have such a bubbly personality.

SAM
Oh yes.

JAN
I am also at a higher likelihood of becoming lactose intolerant. This is less meaningful to me but
Still useful.
I’ve had to dramatically cut down my yogurt intake.

SAM
I am lactose intolerant. I have this cashew nutgurt.

JAN
No outside food in saunas.

SAM
Oh I wasn’t gonna—

JAN
Sorry it is force of habit.

SAM
More like habit of force!!!!!!!!!!!!
(A long beat.)

SAM
What if you just...punched my card anyway? Let me in?

JAN
You can come back during Boris’ shift.

SAM
When’s that?
(JAN consults the chart.)

JAN
Next shift is 43 days from now. We are in great red period.
But I’ll let you wait and talk to David when he returns.

SAM
Oh, thank you.

JAN
You are charming.

SAM
Oh!

JAN
I listened to a Radiolab podcast the other day about medical triage. Charming woman got exceptional care. Lesson is: always be nice to people because it might get you bumped up the triage line.

SAM
She lived?

JAN
No. But she lived a bit longer than expected.

SAM
Well this is a bit of a different situation.

JAN
Not so different. You ever been in Russian sauna?

SAM
No?

JAN
Not so different.

Elise Wien