Germany = Nude sunbathing. So, when in Rome…
Not really. My Western sensibilities didn’t allow me to participate in the casual nudity that was happening all over the English Gardens this morning. As it was, I felt like a shimmering beacon of paleness in the midst of all the browned, potbellied bodies dotting the grass. Based on today’s observations, I have learned a few guidelines when it comes to nude sunbathing. They are as follows:
1. Bathers are typically male, and between the ages of 40 – 75.
2. Dark, leathery skin is the norm – no tan lines need apply.
3. Potbellies give you bonus points
4. You should be well-versed in the art of strutting around so as to best display the aforementioned potbelly.
5. The essence of nude sunbathing is all in the pose. Never lie demurely on your stomach or on your back with arms at your sides. Sprawl. Bend those knees, prop yourself up on your elbow or reach your arms back and rest your head on your hands. Confidence is key.
Then someone came along and defied the rules. I didn’t catch his name, but he was a small man dressed in khaki pants, a Madras shirt, and a floppy sun hat. He crouched down at the edge of my towel and smiled. I fake-smiled back, hyper-aware that I was lying on my front without a top on.
“Go away,” I thought, hoping to control him with the power of my mind. I failed.
“Hello,” he said cheerfully. “I am from Shanghai. You know Shanghai?”
“I am here because I love German culture and people. I am in hopes to make some German friends. Would you like to talk?”
“I’m not German,” I said, hoping to put him off.
He faltered slightly, then powered on through. “Oh! Where you from then?”
“Indiana. The States.”
“Oh! I was wondering if I could sit here and we could have a talk, maybe be friends?”
This, traditionally, is not the way to become my friend. Not while I am sunbathing in a nude garden.
“No,” I said. “I’m reading.”
“I am specially trained in Asian massage,” he said, causing me to intensify my mental commands.
“No,” I said.
“I can show you. Maybe pressure points on your foot?”
“No. I just want to read. By myself. All afternoon.”
I could see the wheels turning in his head, searching for another rebuttal.
“So…you don’t want me to sit here and have a little talk? Or do massage?”
“NO,” I practically shouted.
He backed away doing short little bows, then turned and left.
The rest of the day was incident free, minus the egg-sized bug bites that are rising all over my body. But that’s a different, less interesting story.