To spa or not to spa

I’ve never been a fan of spas but after a wonderful three-week biking trip in Germany, my wife convinced me that we should try one. The Baden region is famous for its spas. The day before our visit, we obtained a brochure. Good thing. We learned that people go naked in German spas. That gave us pause. Naked? Hmm. Do we want to do that? So we spent the evening psyching each other up, and with wine over dinner, convinced ourselves that we were up for the challenge.

The spa was huge. There were three floors. We discovered that nakedness was only mandatory on the top two floors, but optional on the first floor. But we couldn’t go back now. We were committed. We walked into the changing room. Naturally it was co-ed. What’s the point of a separate men and women’s change room if you’re going to be naked? We used adjacent change booths, talking to each other as we undressed, just to be certain the other wasn’t backing out. I emerged from my booth with a towel around me. The first three people I saw were wearing bathing suits. I panicked. I felt like that person who was invited to a Halloween party, but was the only one who wore a costume. I dashed back to my booth for my bathing suit. When I re-emerged, my wife saw me in my suit, and feeling betrayed, returned for hers. Wow. That didn’t take much. I think we needed another glass of last night’s wine.

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Now clad in the reassurance that we would no longer be the focus of attention, we walked out into the spa. The building was beautiful. Ornate architecture, stained glass windows, Roman sculptures, and lots of naked people. Lots of naked, saggy people. Nothing like the people in the brochure. There were small rooms along the halls, each with a hot tub. Most were occupied with naked couples in various romantic entanglements. Maybe we shouldn’t be looking in these rooms. “Keep your eyes forward dear. Be discreet.” We finally found refuge in the main central hot pool. After 30 minutes it was time for our massage. I went first. My masseuse was not what I had imagined. She was an unsmiling, 5 foot 2 square woman with huge biceps. Am I supposed to take my bathing suit off? I didn’t. I took a deep breath and lay down. The massage was honestly terrible. She just moved my skin around for 30 minutes, somehow without disturbing a single muscle. Next, it was my wife’s turn. Now what do I do? I really didn’t want to be left alone in this place.

I decided to go back to the locker room to get changed. Half undressed, I realized my wife had locked my clothes with hers. I didn’t know the combination. But I wasn’t going back out. I sat naked in my change booth waiting for my wife.

When she returned, she was a bit distraught. She had been looking for me after her massage and a naked man had tried talking her up in the hallway. She didn’t hear anything he said. All she saw was the jewelry piercing that he was proudly showing off. She volunteered that she didn’t look closely, but seemed oddly apologetic about it all.

We left, relieved to be out. I haven’t been to a spa since.

Hal Stovall

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