We all get hot and flabby, together.
"There are, let's see... thirteen, fourteen, fifteen ways to get wet in here."
"Sixteen ways. Actually."
"Fifteen! And of those, in twelve you have to be naked!"
"Sixteen. Of the naked ones, we're not sure bout three. We'll have to go in nude and see if anyone complains."
"I'm complaining now! I going barearsed based on guesswork. When in doubt, get naked. And you yet you claim there's no... romping... involved.
No splat of wet towels against unprepared bottoms. No mincing. No giggling."
"Romping? No just lots of strangers, hot, wet and naked. There's nothing strange or sexual about that. What are you, a pervert?"
"Yeesh. And what do you mean, sixteen?"
"It's raining outside."
My first German sauna. Once I thought a sauna was just slip on the old trunks, ten minutes sitting in a little room with a big steamy kettle, vigourous
towelling, push off.
Not any more. It's all do do with poisons.
We turn up at 1130am. First shower. Trunks on. Into the outdoor pool, hearty splashing, up and down (it's december, 0.5°C). Into the wave pool. Shower. Trunks off.
Into the 75°C naked sauna. Out. Into the 5°C cold naked shower. Into the cold naked outdoor pool (Still 0.5°C, oh ho, that never changes.) Little scream.
Think you're finished, cold little naked foreign boy. Ho no. Into the warm footbath. The naked eucalyptus room. The naked steam bath. Another sauna. Cold bath. Little scream.
Trunks back on. Into the non-naked thermal baths. Bubbles. Trunks off. Naked 85°C sauna. Cold shower. Big scream. Towels on. Reading room. Finished. No sorry, another shower.
And at 4pm, you're done. I used to wash in less than 10 seconds. Now it takes all bloody day.
And all around me, all new naked friends going through the same process.
The Poison Rises
There are rules. There are poisons, they tell me, poisons deep below the skin. And so we encourage them to rise. We sweat them out. With repeated heatings and
coolings, we encourage them to rise from where they thought they were snug, the comfy bastards.
The plan is, as far as I can tell, to fool them into thinking we have just tossed ourselves into a volcano. A volcano hit again and again by a tidal wave.
A tidal wave in an ice storm.
No happy future for us here, the poisons decide. This body's for the barbecue. They run for it. So we are wonderfully clean. We are nuked.
We are wonderfully refreshed, lying in our red-faced, shrivelled lump in the pools of moody lighting and sitar strains of the reading room, poison-free
and incapable of motion, dry at last and wondering, how long for?
Poison free, hooray. Unable to move, why? Because some crazy fool has just thrown me into a volcano in a
tidal wave in an ice storm, that's why.
Avoid Laughing and Pointing
There are rules. You have to be naked in the naked sauna. No damn pervert is allowed to come in wearing his lycra togs to point and
laugh it up at our naked expense.
You must not stare at anyone else.
You must sit on a towel.
Keep the door closed.
You must look serious. Even sorrowful. Instead of considering your naked neighbour's wrinkly blubber, ponder
sad truths concerning important dead whales.
Make huffy, blowing noises. This allows both poison-venting and focusses sorrowful thoughts on those whales.
Overall, try to maintain the traditional suana spirit. That is, a funeral home for asthmatic porn stars.
However tempting it seems, do not try to surprise and delight a packed sauna by striking up a sudden naked banjo duet. This is seldom well received.
My all new naked friends. How we sit and sweat it out. Here's a strange comfort. We are all quite astonishingly ugly in the naked sauna. Everyone is flabby, skinny,
has odd blobs and protruberances, and yet noone cares. Noone really even looks very much at anyone's body. We are all very grim, but it does not matter.
How very different from the non-naked world! Out there, in clothed land, everyone frets amd compares and looks so much. My face! My body!
Not pretty enough. Not the right shape. Not compared to the pictures of some little potato in a magazine. An yet now, sweaty, flabby, we've stopped caring. How odd.
The Finns and the Birches
Of course, the Finns invented the sauna. They like to secrete themselves in little troll houses by frozen lakes. There, to rise the poison
faster, they whip each other's naked bottoms with dry birch twigs. Damn those poisons. Poor little Finnish bottoms, thwack, forced to skip across the cold frozen
wastes, panting and giggling...
Curse those poisons. Nothing strange or sexual about the naked saunas of northern Europe. It's just a... thwack, medical operation, that's all... thwack...