You just don’t, plain and simple. Sorry for that gush of realism. But, believe me, it’s an all-out head game in here. In the ol’ cedar oven. The cooker. The scorch porch. The fever box. The butt ledges. The shrivel shack. The rock shop. (You know, because of those rocks.) The arid, softly lit, cave-like… place.

Yeah, I just now made all those up to psyche you out.

Also, it keeps my mind off the potentially fatal, 183-degree Fahrenheit atmosphere. I’m already 24 seconds in, but, to my brain, it only feels like six. That’s psychology, friend. I subscribe to Psychology Today. Certain articles give me an edge up in posturing for cerebral domination.

Aaaaahh, I love these early moments in competition. You nonchalantly walked into the sauna after a gym workout. I accepted your challenge. The sting of your leather glove still haunts my jaw line.

Yes, you’ll find I’m also quite good at metaphor.

Now here I sit, a little too near. Making you uncomfortable enough to adjust your towel so it stays knotted around your svelte waistline. Not me. I prefer to drape the towel across my lap so I can press my raw haunches into the slatted bench.

Judging by your lack of eye contact while I stare at you with my own penetrating gaze, you understand my sauna prowess. You and your six-pack abs, which are perhaps a little six-packier than mine. But who’s the one sweating, huh? You, going by the dark splatters on the parched deck beneath your chin. Your tiny constellation of thirst den shame.

Another clever little nickname: thirst den. No, I never tire of creating them.

90 seconds in now, but it feels like only 84 seconds. 85, tops.

Man, the scent of wood in here is thick. A cedar coffin trapping us as we claustrophobically scratch at the solid, rough-hewn lid. That’s metaphor again. Here’s a good tip for lasting longer in a sauna. Never think up metaphors that have the words “coffin,” “trapping“ or “claustrophobically.”

I see you’ve now moved up to the second bench. Common rookie mistake. It’s an extra ten degrees up there, compadre. Heat rises. Got that from my Popular Science subscription. 73% off a two-year commitment.

Well, I guess it’s on. Scoot over so I can casually lean on one elbow and free my loins while my right knee points at the ceiling.

I’ll have to ramp up my Kung Fu technique here. I’ll imagine myself in Detroit, mid-January, sitting nude on an aluminum chair outside a technical retraining center, squeezing a detached Windstar fender with my thigh adductors. (Men’s Health magazine. You’ve got to know your anatomy in the blister hutch.) My body will believe it’s freezing even as the unholy, 89-degree Celsius air molecules slowly erode the edges of my peripheral vision.

Did you know the only reason your naked skin can tolerate this bench is because of cedar’s low affinity for heat? And the countersunk screws? Got that from American Woodworker. When those teenagers come by selling subscriptions, dude, I check every box.

Three minutes in now. Hmmm, thought for sure we’d be at 3:11. It’s no problem. Not for a sizzle crib ace like myself. I hardly notice those early minutes.

What? Leaving already, dainty hips? Can’t stand the heat in the kitchen? Metaphor. Looking forward to the cool air tickling your supple skin with thousands of bb-sized snowballs? Metaphor.

Oh, just pouring water on the stones. Nice. You know, the silhouette of you holding that ladle certainly reminds one of an Adonis. That’s a little different than “Pear-donis,” which I’ve been called behind my back on the gym floor. But I don’t spend much time out there. I’m too busy in here, training for the sweat Olympics.

You seem scared. Probably worried about someone locking that door and everyone leaving for the night and the timer getting stuck and you not knowing how to prevent yourself from searing on these boards like a chipotle-glazed rib eye.

Hey, did I mention that I have an erection? We veterans do that on purpose. The humiliation keeps us from standing and leaving.

Wait, you’re really going now? At four minutes? Thought for sure you’d make it to five. I was counting on it, to be honest. You didn’t get to see any of my best stuff. After four minutes, all towels come off. That’s when we get down to some serious cognitive jousting.