Different cultural attitudes to nakedness

The sun is warm on my skin and I don’t want to move.   Except that the concrete tiles are cold.  I turn my head and look about me, searchingly.  Perfect.  I roll myself up and grab three of the seat cushions from the nearby table.  The courtyard is empty except for my husband and I.  The other guests have all departed, hunger satiated, to retire by the pool on the sun lounges.  Its a much more beautiful view, for sure, but I cannot be bothered moving.

I look up at my husband, he is on a daybed in the shadows, his jacket wrapped tightly around him, eyes glued to his iPad as he watches another world war II documentary.  I don’t understand how he finds that relaxing, but he tells me he does.  It’s a bit like when we go for a massage, I want something to release the knots in my muscles but I want it to be relaxing.  He wants someone who will literally bruise him.  He pretends he is training for the day he is tortured, this way he knows he will not crack under pressure.  Why anyone would want to torture him, other than me, I have no idea.  I went to lie next to him but it was too cold.  Instead, I grabbed the remaining cushions and fashioned myself a kind of nest.

Blanketed in sunlight, with my children very well cared for at least a three-hour plane ride away, the world felt like a pretty fabulous place.

After our massage, later that afternoon, Dom and I go to the sauna.

‘Do we need bathers?’ I ask the young woman at the reception desk.

‘Of course,’ she says, looking at me the same way I looked at my husband when he suggested we go to a naked sauna.  I am surprised to find I am disappointed.  My husband laughs.

In the sauna, my skin feels claustrophobic in my bathers, and the gently baking chlorine smells awful.  I smile politely at the Spanish woman as she exits the sauna and notice two young women step out of the shower next to the sauna.  They are naked.

‘Nordic,’ Dom says, smiling happily.

‘You’re hopeless,’ I hit him playfully.

The two women chat in a language I do not understand as they enter the sauna and sit on the bench below us.

‘Shower?’ I whisper to my husband, needing to cool off.

He nods.

In the shower, he strips his shorts off.  ‘If they’re naked then I’m going naked,’ he says.  I want to follow suit but am afraid to break the rules.  I leave my bathers on and feel pathetic.  Lying back down on the bench in the sauna, I undo my bikini top and take it off.  I slide my bikini bottoms off and the relief is immediate.  I cannot believe how far I’ve come.

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