Styling: Nicola Rose. Makeup: Caroline Barnes at Frank Agency. Hairstyle: Alex Szabo at Carol Hayes
I freeze my buddy. I mean this literally, not metaphorically – we are in a cryotherapy chamber at a fancy spa and have just moved from the welcome chamber (minus 60C) to the interior chamber (minus 110C).
We wear bathing suits, headbands, gloves, socks, slippers and slightly panicked expressions (OK, the last one is just me). The benefits of spending time in freezing temperatures are said to include increased circulation, mental clarity, muscle recovery and sleep quality. Oh, and it’s meant to tone and revitalize the skin.
Frankly, for this level of torture, I’d expect to come out brighter than Gwyneth Paltrow and sharper-tongued than Craig Revel Horwood.
Then we’re locked in for three whole minutes numbing our toes.
Is it romantic? Well, apparently challenges like this bond a couple: they create shared memories and foster a sense of teamwork. And certainly if I have to be locked in a freezer with someone, I’m glad it’s him. Mainly because of the next-level enthusiasm he displays – the boyfriend loves it.
He is confident that cryotherapy will erase his red wine hangover and ease the delayed onset muscle soreness he developed from an intense gym session he did in anticipation of this “treatment”. I’ll just be grateful if I don’t lose any fingers to frostbite.
I watch his eyelashes frost. Then my skin starts to tingle and my body feels strangely numb. In the second minute, I seriously consider hitting the escape button. He gives me a pep talk.
This whole experience makes me think about how cold is a problem in so many relationships.
The temperature incompatibility seems minor, but it can be problematic. My ex-husband and I were on opposite ends of the spectrum. It ran hotter than lava. He would be in a T-shirt on a plane while I was swaddled in blankets and polo shirts. He would open the windows in the middle of winter and start clutching his collar and saying “so stuffy” in the home of anyone over 70. There were only two or three months when shorts weren’t worn.
Thermostat wars were constant. My ex always surreptitiously refused. If I put it back to my preferred temperature, it would give me the wrong look and tell me to put on another sweater. I would try to explain that being cold makes me really miserable. Being shivering was as bad for me as being “hungry” was for him.
The cold is the reason why I am allergic to camping and I do not hesitate to go skiing. My favorite feeling in the world is lying in the sun and feeling the heat seep into my bones or riding in a car heated by the sun. I would even like to open a dishwasher (you have to take the puffs where you can).
And when the dryer didn’t come with a load of ecological guilt, a towel fresh out of the dryer was ecstasy-inducing.
One of the biggest benefits of having a boyfriend is having access to all that body heat.
And preheat your bed. (I obviously use delaying tactics to make sure he gets between the sheets first to warm them up.)
The boyfriend accepts my cold problems. He invested in an electric blanket – a cleverly zoned blanket so I could have my very warm side. And his car even has heated seats.
His understanding bodes well for the future as I am going to be one of those old ladies in a coat and scarf on a hot summer day.
Dealing with a cold phobic requires patience and a sacred level of empathy. He even allows me to warm my icy hands between his grilled thighs.
And that’s what I call true love.