Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Facing the fear

One of my greatest fears in life is public nakedness.

I’ve told you all about this before, remember? (It was back when The Curious Cat was my only commenter, bless her heart for sticking with me for so long.)

This weekend in Center Parcs I came, literally, face to face with that fear.

One of the great things about the Sherwood Forest site is the Aqua Sana spa where, for £40 you can spend 3 hours in a state of almost catatonic relaxation as you wander in and out of Japanese sea salt rooms and saunas and Indian blossom steam rooms and aqua meditation rooms and tepidariums....you get my drift?

It is marvellous (or acesome, if you wish to use my amazing new word) and well worth the money.

We were booked in at 3pm on Sunday afternoon and I’d spent the weekend looking forward to it. I told my boyfriend I’d see him on the other side and we disappeared into her respective changing rooms.

And that was when it happened.

Full frontal nudity right in front of my face before the door had even closed.

It did not put me into a state of relaxation.

It also didn’t help that the changing rooms were some kind of labyrinthine, wooden-lockered nightmare and every corner I turned brought me face to face with more naked flesh. Getting changed wasn’t an issue, I’d come prepared with swimming costume under my clothes so everything was whipped off and shoved into a locker and I bolted for the sanctity of the spa.

I tried not to let it prey on my mind as I concentrated on feeling like a lotus flower, gently floating on a summer’s breeze.

But I kept getting flashbacks to images of pubic hair.

Three hours later, I returned back to that room of hell. It was now busier. Great.

I looked up and saw that there was indeed a private changing room. I could use that! Except I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to admit to this room of naked strangers that I really had a problem being a naked stranger too. Maybe it’s because I know I shouldn’t be bothered by it, maybe it’s because I have an extreme narcissus complex and assume that everyone’s going to be noticing what it is I’m doing, who knows.

“Get a grip” I said to myself, “You’re almost 27. Time to stop being embarrassed.” Also I figured that because I wasn’t showering (no I’m not horrendously filthy, I’d just decided to shower back at the lodge) I didn’t have the complication of drying whilst trying not to reveal yourself.

Repeating the mantra “No-one’s looking. No-one’s looking.” to myself I got all my clothes out of my bag.

I lined them up neatly.

I checked my phone to see if there were any interesting messages I had received.

I made sure my socks were turned the right way out.

I went over to the mirror to see what my hair looked like. (crap, if you were interested)

I did everything I possibly could to avoid actually taking my clothes off.

Then I had a brainwave. Knickers were easy to do! The spa provides you with a lovely white towelling robe which I still had on. It would be easy peasy lemon squeezy to just whip off the bottoms of the tankini and replace them with pants. GO GO GO.

Mission accomplished. I had pants on. And then trousers. I was half way there.

There was nothing I could do to hide the boobagement though. It had to be done. Off with the towelling robe young lady.

I still wanted to dither though. I had another quick check of the bag to see if the answer to my prayers was somewhere in there.

As I dithered a young girl came in to the changing room to get ready for her spa session. In a manner of seconds she had whipped off her clothes and put on a bikini without seemingly displaying anything. I decided this was to be the new mantra, “Quick like a cat, quick like a cat.”

The tankini was undone, the bra was picked up, I was almost there!

Oh no! The catch wouldn’t catch! “Come on come on come on” I silently prayed as the hooks point blank refused to get into place. It was at this point that I realised I was holding my breath and would need to sort this situation out quickly before I became a passed out half naked stranger on the changing room floor.

Finally the clasp was done. I was officially covered.

When the boyfriend came out of the changing rooms I looked about and conspiratorially turned to him. “Guess what?” I whispered, “I’M WEARING UNDERWEAR” I announced to some probably rather freaked out passersby.

I don’t think I’ve ever been prouder of myself and this trip will be remembered as the time I was brave enough to show strangers my boobs (without the consumption of many glasses of alcohol and the promise of sex). The next stage is to try and get to the point where I don’t nearly give myself an aneurism doing it.

I’m still a long way off the ladies who were stood, completely naked, drying their hair and talking to their friends who were also stood completely naked. And do you know what? I’m quite happy to not reach that point for some time to come. If ever. No need ladies, no need.


Petit Filoux said...

oh brilliant you do make me laugh!!! I usually manage ok in the boobagement department because they're basically quite small - i've been at the gym and seen old wrinkly women completely absolutely naked though - i'm still scarred

J said...

You made my eyes water with laughing so much (and I've probably woken my sleeping daughter with my hysterical laughter).

I've never had a problem with 'getting naked in changing rooms', but don't get me wrong, you'd never find me drying my hair or standing around chatting whilst completely naked. I'm just one of those types that thinks no-one is looking and we've all got the same anyway.

I did however have abit of a fright several years ago when a rather hairy lady(and I don't mean on her head)came towards me in a gym changing room - honesty it was nearly down to her knees! I'm still not over the shock of that one.

Diane said...

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I love Sherwood Forest Center Parcs but we havn;t been able to afford it since we have had to go in the school hols. We once were swimming in the outdoor bit in the snow - gorgeous.

Diane said...

PS in response to J's comment above - I find it very confusing in this day and age to know how to deal with the "hairy mary" situation - what shape etc is it supposed to be "teased" into. At least when Sex n the city was on I had an idea. Perhaps I should "straighten" it!!!!

Christopher said...

Ha this was funny, I kept waiting for you to snap out of a dream and be at work with no pants on or something.

Itch2stitch.com said...

You are so brilliant at capturing life and sharing it! This was just so funny! I think you were very brave. Even when I was younger with the body of a stick insect, I hated shared changing rooms in shops, I just wouldnt go in! Now I would be a fright! suzie. xxx Thanks for visiting me! x

Kelly said...

Ha ha! I hate it too! At the gym I'm hiding under the towel! I hate that some people just wander around!

The Curious Cat said...

Love it! So funny! I know how you feel...I'm sort of the half-way house...sometimes I go for it, sometimes I try not to. I'm not so fussed about boobage but definitely don't like getting the downstairs department out for the world to see! Also, when friends get naked in front of me - I just don't know where to rest my eyes!!! So paranoid! Well done though - you should be proud - nudest camp next perhaps?! Liked your little reference to me too! :) I stick with you because you are funny and make me laugh and I know you are a really nice girl too! :) xxx

mooncalf said...

Changing rooms always remind me how wonderful it is that society insists that we all wear clothes. What a freaky bunch we all our with our clothes off and how magically we're transformed into normal(ish) people with them on.

P.S. Retractable headphones: http://tinyurl.com/yfow3oo Hurrah!

Tabiboo said...

I hear your cringe and you did far better then me....I'm such a 'where to look?' kind of person.

deep breaths

Nina x

Simone said...

So funny, but after giving birth in front of a roomful of strangers, nudity pales into insignificance!!!

ana said...

My OH is German, and we go to the sauna quite a bit when we are in Germany (where EVERYONE IS NAKED and no-one gives a toss). It's not so much that no-one is looking, it's more a case of no-one is interested. My recommendation: go to Germany and sauna everyday to desensitise :¬)