I am a fairly modest person. When I get out of the shower, I avert my eyes from the mirror until I am safely ensconced in a towel. I face the corner of the room when changing clothes in front of my kids. Plainly stated, I am an uptight W.A.S.P..
Now, when I joined this gym here in my neighborhood a month ago, part of the reason I did this was so that I could take a steam bath, sauna and shower on my own--without my children bugging me (they would be happily playing in the gym’s playroom). What I was not prepared for was all the nakedness involved.
I do understand that people shower without clothes on, yes. But, is it just here in Europe or is it like this at every gym across the world, everyone stands around naked; chatting, doing their hair and make-up, walking to the WC.
I think it’s the long, serious conversations women have in the locker room while completely naked that bemuses me the most (I could not do it without laughing nervously). I'm off, huddled in a corner trying to wedge my underpants on beneath my towel and then slip the towel off and strap on my bra at lightning speed, so that I can be totally dressed (even my snow boots on) ready to dry my hair.
Last Wednesday was a particularly naked day at the gym. Because my German is not so good, I couldn’t read the sign that said, ‘Tuesday and Thursday are ladies day in the steam and sauna’ (meaning the other days of the week are co-ed). I thought is said something about free dough-nuts on Tuesday and Thursday-- Whoopee!
I head in to the sauna, wrapped ever-so tightly in my huge beach towel (even I, the modest fool, realized that I look like a sausage roll). The sauna was empty-- awesome, I would get to really relax. I laid down, took a deep breath and tried to empty my brain. A minute or two later the door opens and a man who looked to be about 230 years old walks in-- carrying a towel, and wearing nary a stitch of cloth.
I’ve never seen my father naked, much less my grandfather… I rarely see my husband naked. To see this ancient creature stark bare naked was jolting, to say the least.
So, Father Time walks in to the sauna, bids me 'good day', lays down on the bench across from me and takes in a nice deep breath.
Okay, clearly my relaxation time was coming to an end. But not completely until a minute later when a guy about my age walks in, also naked, spreads out his towel between the thousand-year-old man and me, and gets comfortable.
I had the good sense not to bolt immediately (thinking it would offend my sauna mates), so I tried to casually lay there for a minute or two then sort of rolled off the bench (my towel was that tightly wrapped) and went back into the ladies only locker room.
And I had never been so glad to see a bunch of naked women (only).