BERLIN – I guess I am officially European. I no longer have issues with public nudity.
A few weeks ago, some friends invited me to go swimming at the Badeschiff – a barge turned indoor swimming pool and sauna in the middle Berlin’s Spree River. The idea of jumping into a heated pool in the middle of the German winter was appealing to me, so I packed my beach bag and headed for the Badeschiff.
I showed up with my beach towel, Gap swimsuit, Richardson High School “Beach Team” T-shirt and flip flops ready to go for a dip.
But when we went into the locker room to change, I realized that nobody else had brought a swimsuit. No need – no swimsuits allowed on the Badeschiff.
My first reaction was panic, and I started thinking of ways to gracefully leave. However, my plan to fake an emergency message from my editor fell through when I realized I left my cell phone at home.
After a few hopeless attempts at leaving, I realized there was no escape. I simply had to strip down.
As if the situation wasn’t already awkward enough, the locker room was co-ed. So with Swedish friend Julia at the locker to my left and a 70-year-old German lady to my right, I ditched my swimsuit and headed for the pool.
The first five minutes were perhaps the most awkward I have ever experienced. There I was, skinny dipping with my best friends. And we hadn’t even been drinking.
Things got especially interesting when Spanish friend Jaime and I started trying to dunk Swiss friend Xavier. The scene resembled some sort of nude underwater wrestling match.
And while I am all for water games, I drew the line at playing chicken.
I finally started to loosen up once we got in the sauna, which had a view of the river and the Berlin skyline. It was so nice I almost forgot how strange it was to be sitting on a wooden bench naked with my best friends and a group of complete strangers.
But I was quickly reminded of the awkwardness when my friends left and I was joined in the sauna by 10 naked German fr?uleins. When one of them (accidentally?) sat on my thigh, I called it quits and headed for the lounge chair to finish some reading for one of my classes. Surprisingly, reading naked really does help you focus. Perhaps I have found a new study strategy.
Between the swimming, sauna-ing, foot washing, wine drinking and group showering, it almost started to feel normal that nobody was wearing clothes.
All in all, I have to say I really enjoyed the evening. I mean, how can it not be fun to watch a bunch of hot Europeans walk around naked?
For the sake of my dear GW roommate Tim, I think I should go on the record as saying that I have not turned into a nudist. At least, not yet.
My Euro friends were bewildered that it was such a big deal to me to strip down in front of them. I guess my American prudishness was a bit silly. Once you have seen one rear end, haven’t you seen them all?