09 June 2005

the Naked Republic of Iceland

In the past 3 days I've become a swimming phenomenon, charting a total of 4 k at three different pools. I've never been much of a swimmer, so I'm pretty proud of myself.

While I was in the locker room yesterday, I got to thinking about how many people I see naked on a daily basis here, versus what it was like back in Boston. Every day I go to the pool, there's a new crop of 20-50 naked people when I change into my suit, and another new bunch when I'm changing out. On a busy day at Laugardalslaug, that's 100 naked people a day. Multiply that by 27 times (about how many pool visits I've done since getting here) and that's a lot of naked. Of course, I've also been here long enough to start recognizing a few of the regulars at certain pools, so that number drops a little. Still, it's more nakedness than I've seen in my entire life before I arrived here.

Showering without a suit is an absolute requirement before swimming here, and they don't have separated shower stalls. After the swim, nobody scuttles into their towels, then doing the secret shimmy into their undies beneath the towel. It's limbs akimbo everywhere, and these bodies are all ages. Moms bring their kids with them (both boys and girls) and people here keep swimming well into their 80s. Friends stand naked in the shower, continuing the conversation they started outside, and women nurse their babies wearing nothing other than a towel wrapped around their head.

After getting over the initial strangeness of it, I started to enjoy it. When else do you get to spend that much time in your own skin in a nice warm place? Everyone else is occupied with their own business, and it's fascinating to see the different shapes people come in.

In fact, it has become so comfortable to be clothing-free, that I'm just waiting for the day that I forget I haven't put my suit on, and I'll stroll out to the pool area in the buff.

No comments: