I think everybody had that one friend this week who was like, “yeah, I really love this cold weather!” Don’t you just want to murder that person? I’m over here wearing two pairs of long underwear, a wool Henley under a flannel shirt under a cardigan, and fleece-lined boots, and this guy’s inhaling crisply through his nose and saying things like, “this is nothing, it’s going to get much colder than this! Ha ha!” I think it should be legal to murder that person.
Because most of us are NOT enjoying this cold snap. We’re just not ready. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and lapse into self-delusion for the next couple weeks, and pretend that it’s not winter yet, even though every time I leave the house it feels like all my blood turns to liquid nitrogen. How, you ask? Well, it’s not going to be easy, but it is possible. You just need to use some creativity. Say it with me: IT’S NOT WINTER YET. Now let’s go warm up.
THE BOTANICAL GARDENS
We have a world-class botanical garden here in DC; it’s the closest thing you can get to the rain forest without actually going to the rain forest, where you’d probably stomp on a minimum of three endangered species per step anyway, and end up in a South American prison. And it’s free, which is never a bad thing. It’s basically a massive humid greenhouse, so you can actually stroll around in a tank top and shorts and look at flowers and butterflies and trees and things of that nature. It’s like a vacation in Florida, but without all the 11 year old white supremacists on bath salts that the Sunshine State is known for. The last time I went, I was with my girlfriend at the time, and her father, and unbeknownst to them I’d eaten a pot brownie just prior to joining them, so I spent most of my time there standing in one place and staring upwards while my girlfriend and her dad said, “hey, Franklin, hey, Franklin, hey. Hey! HEY!!!” from ten feet ahead after they’d noticed that I’d fallen behind yet again. I highly recommend it.
There are a surprising number of tanning salons in DC. I had no idea. That would explain all the people I see walking around in February who look like basted turkeys. You know, science says that the UV exposure you get from the sun and tanning beds alike can lift your mood, and besides, there’s something very leisurely and tropical about laying there in that glowing capsule, wearing a Speedo or maybe nothing, as your skin gets microwaved. Yes, it probably gives you cancer, but what doesn’t? Do you smoke? Do you eat meat? Do you consume soda or candy? Do you buy non-organic produce? Do you breathe unfiltered air inside the city limits? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you’re at moderate to high risk of getting cancer. Sorry. A twenty minute session in the tanning bed is just a drop in the (already halfway full) bucket (of carcinogens), and it will make you look and feel very un-wintery.
At Spa World, in Annandale you pay a $40 cover charge for unlimited, all-day access to pools, hot tubs, saunas, massages, scrubs, etc. It’s pretty magical. Everyone is wandering around in the same linen jumpsuit (it’s segregated by gender, though everyone can mingle in the food court and eat and watch Korean soap operas on the big screen which are no less entertaining even if you don’t know a word of Korean), sweating out toxins, all pink-cheeked and exfoliated. Definitely go for the full body scrub, though I warn you that when you see the handfuls of disgusting dead skin that they’ll be sloughing off your body, you will realize just what a filthy rhino-hided ogre you really are. It’s a humbling experience. The saunas are so hot that you’ll feel like a Hot Pocket in the microwave, in a good way, and twenty minutes in one of the hot tubs will induce a Buddhist monk-like state of transcendent bliss, only without all those inconvenient decades of poverty and meditation. After an afternoon here, you’ll swear you’ll never be chilly again, though (spoiler alert) halfway back to your car, your mouth will already look exactly like Grumpy Cat’s again.
If you don’t want to go all the way to the suburbs, the Dupont Circle Washington Sports Club has a hamam, which is a kind of Turkish spa/sauna. You’ll definitely get nice and steamy, but the Dupont one is co-ed, so if you’re a woman, prepare to be approached by at least one man who unsubtly implies he’s some kind of James Bond/CIA special agent type, but who probably works in IT.
Yes, I know, I know. It sounds like total snake oil, but seriously, it works! Science is on my side. Basically, they found that taking ginseng stimulates capillary growth, which increases circulation, which means you will feel warmer. See, science. And improved circulation has all kinds of side benefits, if you know what I mean, wink wink nudge nudge. (Erections.) I would avoid the pills and capsules you get at Whole Foods or GNC: that ginseng is to real ginseng as “astronaut ice cream” is to real ice cream. Go for the tinctures with the little eyedroppers (opt for the alcohol solution over the nonalcoholic) or, better yet, get yourself down to Chinatown and get a legit root. The best ones have been soaking in a bottle of fluid for several years, slowly leaching their medicinal properties into the surrounding liquid. It looks like something you’d pour onto your rival at prom, but it’s very potent. Seriously. I mean, yes, it might just be the placebo effect, but if you think you feel warmer, that’s the same thing as actually being warmer, is it not? Don’t get all literal on me, gosh darn it, it’s 2014.