German Nude Sauna


The atrium was beautiful, it was true, but she couldn’t appreciate it. The tingles of uncertainty that began in her stomach on the bus ride down from the hills had spread into a full-body tension. A momentary feeling of faintness wafted up to her head and she realized she hadn’t been breathing; a place to sit down for a moment would be a wise choice. The rest of students on her team were milling around the lobby, relaxed and joking with one another, waiting for Herr Muller to finish the registration at the front desk, so she picked her way quietly around them and towards the windows. A wooden bench ran the length of a bank of floor-to-ceiling glass, looking out on a partial forest view. She sat down and focused on her breathing, letting herself draw in deep lungfuls of air, holding for five seconds, then blowing out slowly through pursed lips. She hoped nobody noticed her panic attack.

This place pretty much terrified Heike. It wasn’t that she hated the spa. In fact, the actual routine of the place was something she had enjoyed with her mother regularly during her childhood: the intense heat of the sauna, the shock of the cold plunge, swimming naked in the big lap pool, and the return to a soak in a scalding mineral bath. It’s just that she and her mother came here only on the special women’s days, only two per month at this spa—often only one day a month in the larger ones—when the normal mixed-gender German nude conventions were suspended as a concession to the small minority of Deutschers made uncomfortable by it.

And sometimes it felt like it wasn’t even a minority of Germans that felt this way—it felt like she might be the only German female in the entire fucking country who didn’t just strip down at a moment’s notice and display her tits and ass and yes, even put her pretty little eighteen-year-old vagina out there for any man passing by who wanted to have himself a looksee. It was so frustrating, that there was nobody to sympathize with her. Even her mother didn’t think anything of nudity and tried to talk her into coming here on regular mixed days, but Heike was stubborn. It didn’t feel right. These were her private possessions, these intimate parts of her body, and she wanted to wait to share them with someone special at the right time. She didn’t want to become numb to other’s nudity, or let them become numb to hers. It was too precious, she felt.

Throughout her childhood she had become skilled at avoiding these situations, with little notice by others, and as a result only her closest friends knew of her body anxiety. Johanna—not on the running team—was one of them, and had teased her that she was born in the wrong country. “Heike, you should have been an American girl. They never go nude anywhere, it’s silly. They even cover themselves in the girls locker room, could you imagine!” Then Johanna would laugh, because indeed she couldn’t imagine being that nervous about showing your body even to other girls; Johanna had grown up in an ordinary German family where brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, aunts and grandmas, all thought of each others’ bodies as natural, non-sexual things. About the only time anyone in the culture got even remotely embarrassed was seeing your boss or your boss’s husband or wife naked. That seemed to cause at least a mild reaction even in a German.

The part Heike never got when it was explained to her was that nudity was understood in German culture to be non-sexual. But how could showing your sexual organs to someone of the opposite sex not cause sexual feelings? For instance, she liked boys, and let herself dream about the cute ones. Even a shirtless boy caused a stirring in her; the rounded form of his shoulders, the taut muscles as they rippled down into his chest, the lines around his stomach, and especially his arms and biceps. Now suppose that such an attractive, shirtless boy were to turn to face away from her and slowly pull his boxers down over his ass, exposing his smooth skin, while she watched him bend over to pull his socks off. How could that not turn her on? And how could a boy who felt attracted to her watch her strip off her bra and panties and not be aroused? Was it all just a game of pretend and they all went home after the sauna to whack their monkeys, or did they really feel no emotions at the sight of a naked body?

Her thoughts were interrupted by a dark-haired, thin boy who approached her at the window seat. “Hallo, Heike,” he said shyly. She smiled and returned the greeting. She was glad for the interruption since it was Lonan. If there was one person in the whole atrium who seemed to be more nervous than she was, he was that person; he was white as a sheet, an achievement because he had darker, olive-colored skin. Seeing him made her forget her own anxieties for the moment.

“Komm, setz dich,” she said, patting the seat next to her. Come here you pretty and shy boy, she thought to herself but didn’t say out loud. Sit down before you faint right in front of me like I almost did.

Lonan taksim üniversiteli escort was a curious member of their class. Their gymnasium, as the high schools for college-bound kids are called in Germany, was already unusual in that they maintained the old tradition of the oberprime, or 9th year of secondary school. Most schools had already changed to be consistent with other countries by graduating students after the equivalent of American 12th grade. Their school had also taken in a large number of refugees. Lonan was one of these, and in particular he was a Syrian Christian, which was unusual in the refugee population, so he was even a minority within a minority. He was a gentle and attractive boy. Heike had only spoken to him a few times when he had gathered his courage to approach her. She was shy by her own nature and hadn’t responded with any steps to get to know him better, but seeing him here made her regret that she hadn’t.

As he settled himself down next to her on the bench she glanced at his light-brown arms. They were strong but slender. Sexy. Light traces of veins ran down to beautiful hands, clasped together in his lap. The poor guy, she thought—who knows what he had been through this past year, coming from one of the camps in Greece, and he was in a completely different culture now. Were his hands even shaking slightly?

At the counter, Herr Muller let out a raucous laugh. They both looked over. Heike guessed that he was flirting with the receptionist, and that explained why the team had been waiting out here for a while. Muller was a fit young coach, early thirties she guessed, and was never one to miss making an innuendo or sharing a laugh with an attractive woman. Heike didn’t mind the delay in this case, of course, given the plans for the afternoon. She would have easily preferred to spend the afternoon in the lobby with Lonan here instead of inside the spa.

“Why did Coach Muller bring us here today?” he asked in a sullen voice, reverting to English which Heike knew he was more comfortable speaking, having been in Germany only a few months. Life was ironic: a year spent in a Greece camp improving his English, only then to be sent to Germany. But refugee families couldn’t be choosy—if any country would take them, they were eager to pack up all their world’s belongings from their tent and go there instead of being sent back to their turbulent homeland where life was filled with persecution and jeopardy. At least his family had stayed together as an immigration unit, which wasn’t a sure thing at all given that he had turned eighteen while in the camps, and was therefore by law an adult left to find his own way through the tortuous process. All of that Heike had learned during his presentation to the social issues class just last week, and she found it fascinating that this quiet boy had made such a dramatic journey from his homeland with his mother and father and younger sister.

“I know,” she said in sympathy, answering the underlying tone of his comment rather than the question. “It was a surprise to me, too.” And she didn’t add that if it hadn’t been a surprise, she wouldn’t have been here. On all of the previous visits to the spa by the running team, she had managed to become ill and miss school that day, wouldn’t you know. At least today it was only the G9, ninth years, the oldest kids. A few more than a dozen, about half boys and half girls. That was one small win to harvest from the circumstances, because she was pretty sure there was no way she could have gone naked in front of the younger boys.

Herr Muller laughed again over at the desk. Maybe the coach’s surprise visit to the spa was motivated by the pretty receptionist. Or it was just his idea of a special treat—it was true that almost all the kids on the team relished the chance to skip the hard hills workout and instead soak in the tub and steam in the sauna. Probably all of the students except these two sitting on the window bench. But whatever the motivation, only half an hour into the run the Coach unexpectedly gathered them into the big van and swooped down to the spa, leaving the other kids to finish and return to the school with Frau Becker.

Lonan was quiet, and Heike felt an urge to befriend him. What would it be like to start life over in a brand new country? Everything would be new, all the traditions you grew up with, changed. All the customs and ways of doing everything from eating to playing and working and the language people spoke, entirely different. She wondered if she could do it if she had to.

“Have you been to this place before?” she tried.

He shook his head. “Never.”

“Oh.” She thought for a moment, maybe he doesn’t know what he is in for today. But then, if that were true then he probably wouldn’t have appeared so nervous. She decided to speak up anyway. “You do know that we all will go to the sauna today. . . and swimsuits are not allowed.”

He nodded tophane escort glumly and spoke slowly. “I know about this. Heinrich told me. I have never done it before. I don’t know if I can do this thing.” He was quiet for a moment, thinking. “We do not do such things in my country in front of girls.”

“Can I tell you a secret?”

He pivoted in interest to look at her face for the first time. His eyes were a gorgeous black, and he had such a finely chiseled nose. His lips were small but precise, cut well yet full. What would it be like to kiss those olive-colored lips? She stared too long, then swallowed and looked down out of embarrassment before continuing.

“I . . . I have never been naked in front of the team, either. I am scared about it, too.”

He was puzzled. “You don’t do this before?”

“No, I come here often with my mother. But on days with only women.”

He nodded and thought about that, and said with resolve, “You have courage to try it, so today I will also be brave.” He smiled faintly and looked down, but his hands still shook. Only Heike sitting next to him could notice; he hid it from the other students.

On an impulse that was not a natural action for her, Heike placed her hand on top of his, and wrapped her fingers around his palm. She held him comfortingly. The feeling of his skin surprised her.

“You have beautiful hands. They are strong, but soft and smooth. You didn’t have to work hard in your childhood?”

He laughed and smiled broadly for the first time she had seen today. It was a beautiful smile with white teeth. “No, I was a lucky child. For me, it was only school and my drawings, not the fields or workshops. My parents had money in Syria. We had a good life, and my mother encouraged my art.”

She thought of her own parents and how they cared for her. It was no different in any other country, then. Of course, this was obvious if one were to think about it, how else could it be? But somehow in all the news headlines about the happenings of the world with revolutions and war and refugees, the detail is lost that every person there as well as in your own life is living a familiar life of love, ambitions, family.

“Do you still draw? Here, in Germany, I mean?”

“I did in the camps. There was a woman, a German woman in fact—she works for the airlines—who visited every few weeks to collect artwork to sell in America. Then she would pay us on her next visit. That was one way we could earn money, because it is not legal in Greece for us to hold a real job. I was happy to contribute to my family.”

“You are a professional artist!” Heike said, impressed. “I would very much like to see your drawings, these drawings that Americans pay money for.”

“Those are gone, but I have others that I can show you.”

“You have continued drawing now that you are here, in Germany?”

He was quiet. “I have not drawn since we arrived. It is sad, I think.” He looked at Heike and there was a tentative smile at the corner of his mouth. “Maybe I will start drawing again if I have. . . what do you call it, inspo?” She squeezed his hand in reply. Inspiration, he meant. He knew more English slang than she did. This boy was very interesting to her, and attractive, more than she had expected. And an artist, too!

Then Coach Muller began shouting out instructions to the students and their attention was brought back from each other to their situation with the team and the spa. Everybody was lining up at the counter in orderly German fashion. Rules, there were always rules in Germany, Lonan thought. There was no way to avoid getting out of this now without causing an even greater embarrassment, and from the past years of survival he had learned to go along with things and not be noticed as an exception.

He watched Heike stand up and turn to line up. Another panic struck him and he reached out to her hand as he joined her standing. “Heinrich told me something else,” he choked out.

She turned back to her shy friend. There would be a minute of gathering before Herr Muller yelled at them for dawdling. She wanted to hear him out, so she asked him what it was.

“He said. . . Heinrich. . . told me, ‘Lonan, everybody in the sauna will see. . . will see your penis, there is no way around this. So don’t try to hide yourself with a towel. That will only make it more interesting to them. Just . . .’ what is the word in English? Own it. Be proud and do not care. Heike, do you think this is right?”

She thought of the time an American mother and daughter came into the sauna. It was only on a women’s day, but yet they were shy and danced around with towels around their waists while the group that was already sitting naked watched them with interest while they finally disrobed. It was unusual to behave this way, and being unusual was what drew attention. So she had to agree with Heinrich. Contrary to one’s intuition, it was better—actually less embarrassing—to blend topkapı escort in by being totally, confidently naked instead of fighting it.

She nodded, although she wondered if she could follow the advice which she just agreed to. Yes, she reflected, it would be best for her as well. I will own it, also. She was glad for Lonan’s reminder. She smiled at him and still holding his hand, led him over to the back of the line.

From Lonan’s point of view, she was a pretty girl and he was glad for her company today, so he summoned his strength of will and followed her. He had been raised in a conservative culture in Syria, almost as conservative as the Muslims, but he was also an eighteen year old boy so as they walked across the lobby his eyes scanned up and down her figure. She was of average height, and athletic like all the runners on the team, but she had a larger chest than the other girls, some of whom were almost completely flat. That was better for running, of course, but he was pleased with her curves. As he watched her, he thought of his artwork and felt the calling stir again in him. Maybe she will let me draw her, possibly even naked, he thought. Then he smiled; but where would I hide those from mother?

At the desk they each received a bracelet, one towel, and a cotton robe. Since they had driven in the van directly from the workout, and nobody had a swimsuit, Heike knew they were destined to go directly into the half of the facility that was “textile free” instead of the more casual wading and entertainment pools on the right side. They passed through a turnstile each using their bracelets to open the little gate, and Heike and Lonan both noted the “no swimsuits” graphic on the sign featuring a bold red slash through a cartoon bikini. Heike wondered if any other culture in the world would have a sign forcing people to strip nude.

As is standard in all German spas, inside the naked area there were no separate male and female changing rooms nor even separate showers. What’s the point as you are going to be nude together soon anyway; that would be inefficient! The students followed Herr Muller in an orderly fashion through an open area and turned into a row of lockers, each runner finding a little cubby to stow their gear. Clothes began coming off.

At the end of the line, Heike and Lonan turned to face each other. Their eyes met and held for a moment. If they didn’t start stipping down soon, they would be the only ones clothed along an entire line of naked students, and the threat of being called out for being different loomed as worse than just following the orders.

In a surprise to Heike, Lonan reached down to pull his shirt off, without looking away from her. The shirt went up and over his head, and Heike took a look at his chest. They had run often as a team with the boys shirtless, but she had not seen him up close like this where she could take in the detail of his muscles. He was lean and wiry, but strong. Bold dark nipples, just a wisp of chest hair, the lines of ab muscles across his tummy. A good runner’s physique. And a good lover’s physique too, she thought briefly with a jolt. She wanted to run her fingers over his chest, across a nipple, down his abs.

But there was no time. This was her turn to own it. She put her hands down to the hem of her shirt, took a deep breath, looked at Lonan in the eyes like he had done with her, and pulled it up over her bra and head. To school every day she wore a baggy sweater, which gave the boys only the vaguest idea of her figure. Today she had been running so as usual her outfit was a loose-fitting t-shirt over a sports bra, and while it gave away to any observer a bit more of her figure than the sweaters did, she was mostly still a mystery; while she had her shirt on, that is to say. Less so to Lonan who was now looking at this cute girl in front of him wearing only a sports bra.

He cleared his throat nervously and seemed ready to turn away, but she decided to take the plunge. She reached one hand up to cover her breasts while the other pulled the tight elastic up and off her chest and head.

Lonan watched Heike bare her chest in front of him and he did not look away; he was mesmerized. Her hand hadn’t moved fast enough to cover her naked breasts so he got a flash of her beautiful, bold nipples before they were hidden. He wanted to see that again! But the other teens were mostly changed now, so he turned from Heiki and dropped trou. Got to own this, he steeled himself. Down over his ass and then he bent down to pull off his shoes and socks. Ahead of him was a mass of flesh and robes being put on. It was true what he had heard, that seeing a dozen naked people was not sexually exciting. But watching just one, that girl behind him, truly was. He hoped there was no chance he would get an erection here thinking about her.

For her part, when Lonan had pivoted and stripped down in front of her, it was just like the vision she had thought of earlier in the lobby. Cute naked guy, exposing his ass, bending over. She felt a tingle, but this time it wasn’t nerves, it was excitement. She shrugged and wondered how she was going to get through the rest of the afternoon. She stripped off the rest of her clothes quickly and slipped on the robe. That wasn’t too bad, and nobody seemed to have watched her.

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