Saturday, November 24, 2007


Jeff took Thanksgiving off work. After my book group lunch when our new Thursday afternoon babysitter arrived, the two of us headed out for an afternoon of relaxation at a new nearby indoor water park. We decided to splash (ha!) out for access to the SaunaLand in addition to the water slides and current pool and jet pools that we'd tried before with Theo in tow.

This explains how I found myself on Thanksgiving day wrapped in a towel, eating a soft pretzel, sitting in a bar with a two-story view of naked Germans walking around in the freezing weather between outdoor sauna buildings. The facility is beautiful and houses a bunch of small indoor sauna rooms including one in which aroma is pumped on a changing hourly schedule, plus a series of sauna huts in an adjoining yard. After an hour riding the waterslides (strobe lights! inntertubes!), floating in the whirlpools, and paddling around in the steamy outdoor pool, we both could have used a half hour of pineapple-flavored warmth. Instead, we sat around on the benches outside the sauna rooms with our towels cinched tightly around us, soaking our feet in little basins and trying not to make eye contact with anyone, especially each other, as people dropped their robes and strolled around the room. Finally we realized we would never get over our ingrained American giggle reflex and we'd better get out of there. So we went upstairs, ordered pretzels, and realized when we looked out the window that we could not escape the skin display.

I have no problem with public nudity in theory, in fact the whole experience led me to realize how much more realistic American body image would be if we were used to seeing regular people's naked bodies more often. We grow up seeing movie stars and models and other teenagers in gym class naked, but I can tell you with great certainty that those bodies bear no resemblance to the average fifty-year-old. And I admire the idea that the human body is just normal and everybody has one and blah blah blah.

However, there was no way anyone was going to talk me into peeling off my bathing suit and entering a sauna room with three old, nude strangers. It didn't matter how nice it smelled in there.


1 comment:

missbeegail said...

When I was in Japan I went to a spa facility not unlike the one you described here. It was small and lovely and had numerous pools of various temperatures from freezing cold to scalding hot. There were separate facilities for men and women and I went in with my friend Chris's friend Jenny, whom I had just met for the first time that afternoon. That is most certainly the shortest I had gone between meeting someone and having them seem me naked. It was bizarre.