Fall in Germany often means overcast, cool, and drizzly days. Accustomed to Colorado’s dry and typically warm climate, I have a tendency to feel chilled, causing my dad to make fun of me, calling me mollycoddled. Despite his potential disapprobation, I give in to the desire to get thoroughly warm, and, during a particularly inhospitable weather spell, when the barometer needle steadily drops, plan to spend a day at a spa which I longingly remember from a visit at least a decade ago. Swimming and soaking pools, steam and mud baths, dry and wet saunas, reclining chairs, and soft, new age music sound like the perfect remedy.
Following a train ride and a walk through the fog, I arrive at my destination, prepared for a day of pampering and relaxation. I paddle in the central pool for only a few brief minutes when one of the employees walks up to get my attention. Imagine my surprise when I find out that clothes are not merely optional, but completely forbidden. Before his arrival I noticed fellow bathers in the nude, but never did the thought cross my mind that I was breaking not simply a rule of the establishment, but a hallowed, immutable law. I don’t recall seeing any signs banning apparel, neither when I looked up the business hours on line, nor when I checked in at the front desk. But here I am, an outlaw. No “textiles” allowed, “no textiles” repeats the assistant, like a mantra. He helpfully points out my bathing suit is not only not wanted, either it has to go, or I do.
I do. Regretfully, I climb out of the pool, wrap my towel around me, and make my way back to the dressing room, wondering about myself. I don’t recall any mention of Puritans in my family tree but, somehow, during my long residence in the United States, its underlying puritan current must have rubbed off, or been absorbed through the water, or the air.
By the time I shower and dry my hair, my slight consternation is gone, and I am chuckling. I also decide that this anecdote is too humorous not to share, resulting in the confessions of a wannabe, verklemmt mermaid who did not feel comfortable in her own skin.
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