Brooke’s Birthday Weekend: In Which Sanchezi Gets Naked

I remember starting Middle School and being so afraid of Physical Education, because in Middle School is when you had to take showers. Then I realized no one really took showers during school. The fear returned for high school… still nothing to fear.

We didn’t shower after football/ basketball practices or games… usually. I say usually because I do remember ONE time after a practice the varsity team actually did shower (or maybe it was one boy in particular. He was new to our school.) I don’t know what the specific occasion was to where he felt he had to shower… a dance? Whatever the reality of the memory, SOMEBODY got wet in that high school shower.

I thought it was the most bizarre thing. Someone getting naked in front of all those other people!

American television- the #1 cultural/ social conditioner of American youth was decidedly one sided on the subject. The cool kids were unabashed by being naked in front of peers of similar gender.  It was the weirdos and the social outcasts who had issues with nudity. And the cool, free spirited people were the ones who unashamedly went skinny dipping into the ocean.

But as I take a realistic unofficial survey of people, the overwhelming majority have modesty concerns about who sees their nudity. Even as adults.

As I have grown older, for various reasons, I have grown more and more comfortable with my body and have gotten to a place where I am not afraid or embarrassed about who sees it.

The capital city of Tbilisi, legend has it, was founded because of its natural sulfur hot springs. They are still in operation in Old Town, Tblilisi. Living in this country, one can not pass up the opportunity to experience the Hot Sulfur Baths.

Bath Houses of Old Town Tbilisi

Bath Houses of Old Town Tbilisi

So Saturday afternoon, after a great lunch we bought some beer, sauntered over to the Bath district and reserved a private room. We all took one last innocent look at each other and then stripped down to the birthday suits.

Once in the bath room, there is a sitting area with pine Adirondack chairs and table. Then immediately behind that area is a 25×25 ft. hot sulfur pool. To the left of that are the showers (hot and cold). Circling around still is a hot stone sauna. Completing the circle is the sitting room again.

View from inside the Bath. (The silhouette in the background is a marble statue.)

View from inside the Bath. (The silhouette in the background is a marble statue.)

The first thing you notice is the obvious sulfur smell.  People have described it as ‘rotten eggs’. Our friend Paula described it as ‘earthy’. But it’s not an overwhelming smell and it recedes into the background after a while. The pool is a perfect relaxing temperature.

We simply lounged and meandered between pool, shower, sauna and lounge chairs. After a while, a Georgian man came in to do the scrub downs. This was done in the shower room on a marble slab. We each took turns first being abrasively scrubbed, soaped then rinsed by the professional. He made a note of showing us (unnecessarily) the dead skin that he pealed away.

After everyone had been scrubbed, we got in a final sauna and shower and called it a wrap. We had intended on only doing an hour, but ended up staying in there for three hours. We paid for it dearly. But it was an experience and memory I will never forget.

***

Sulfur Baths back in the day.

Sulfur Baths back in the day.

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