Today's post is Part 2 of my journey to the Spa Castle. If you didn't read part one, I suggest you do so now. https://www.davidleenelson.com/single-post/2019/07/09/Spa-Castle-Part-1
It’s not that I have a problem with my body. My first professional theatre job was at an outdoor drama in North Carolina and we lived in dorms with communal showers. My junior year of college I played Prior in Angels in America and had to do a full frontal nudity. At the same time, I have no interest in going to a nude beach. I don’t sleep in the buff. I’ve been skinny dipping a few times but that was more out of not wanting to deal with soaking wet underwear.
Also, I didn’t really understand the “must be naked for the baths” policy. We had all brought our swim trunks for the third floor pool, why couldn’t we just wear them in the baths? I’ve been in steam rooms and hot tubs with my swim trunks many a time and have always enjoyed the experience thoroughly.
But this was the Spa Castle. They play by their own rules. And now my two friends were in there naked and waiting for me to join them. I set down my bag and opened my locker. It was December, so there were a lot of clothes to take off. There was my coat. Then my sweater. Then the t-shirt I was wearing underneath. Next were my shoes and socks. Then my belt. Not sure why I took off my my entire belt. I could have just unclasped it. But I was nervous and clearly not thinking straight. I slid off my blue jeans and was left standing there in my boxer-briefs.
Now during this time of undressing, I was alone in this bank of lockers. This changing area is not a big open space. There is a walk way and off the walk way are little halls of lockers.
Again, I was the only one there. Until, that is, the second I took of my boxers and closed my locker. At the very moment a very naked boy ran right up to the locker next to mine.
When I say boy, I mean this kid could not have been more than 6 or 7. Or younger, I don't have kids I can't really tell their ages. I froze. My mind was trying to make sense of what was happening. No one told me there were children in this place. Ahhhhhhhhh what the fuck!!!! My locker was locked I couldn’t just put my boxers back on. It was just me and this naked kid standing right next to me and there wasn’t anything I could do about it.
“Excuse me,” I said, desperate to get by, but he didn’t hear me. “Pardon me,” I said a little louder, but he still didn’t move. I thought about scooting by him but he was totally blocking my path and if any part of me touched part of him I was going to have to immediately leave the Spa Castle and burn that part of me off.
After a few seconds, his very naked father walked in. He told the kid to look out behind him which gave me the room I needed to walk by. As I left the hall of lockers a wave of relief rushed over me. I was traumatized by the experience. As I made my way into the baths I realized that I might be the first person in the history of the world to be standing naked next to a seven year boy and be relieved that his father showed up.
I squinted when I got into the bath area and looked for my friends. I had left my glasses in my locker and I’m basically blind without them. I barely made out two people waving in my general direction. I assumed they were my friends and I went to join them. For the next hour, we had the most amazing time. We laughed about my close encounter with the child in the locker room. We joked about having no idea what part of Queens we were in. The lack of sight helped me get over any lingering self consciousness.
It was almost time for us to join the girls in Sauna Valley, but before we went we stepped into the steam room. This room was at least a thousand degrees. After five minutes my sweat starting sweating. It started to become a little much for me, so I excused myself and opened the door as wafts of steam trailed behind me. There was a shower head right next to the steam room. I turned it on and the water that came out was ice cold. Every inch of my body shriveled up immediately. And when I say every inch, I mean every inch. In order to warm up I stepped into the pool right next to me. I don’t know if it was that my pores had melted from the steam room. I don’t know if it was sub zero water that had turned my body into a prune. But for some reason the water in that pool felt perfect. Like genuine perfection. I couldn’t tell where I ended and the water began.
Every ounce of tension left me. For this first time I understood “must be naked for the baths” policy. Who would want fabric blocking any part of us from this water. I was alone in the the middle of pool, so grateful that my friend had suggested this place. I was calm. I was peaceful. I was content.
My friends walked out of the steam room.
“You guys should get in here immediately,” I said.
“Dude,” Adam replied.
That was weird. He’s not the kind of guy who usually says dude.
“Seriously,” I implored them. “This water is amazing!”
“You’re in the kids pool.”
He pointed to a sign behind me. I turned and looked but without my glasses the letters looked like one big blob. I swam over and got about a foot from the sign and when I read the words “Children’s Pool” I jumped out as fast as humanly possible. I made a bee line to the wall of lockers, dried myself off, put on the blue shirt and shorts and spent the next hour in the Far Infrared Sauna praying the rays would melt this memory from my mind.
We spent the rest of the day at Spa Castle. We had a good time but I was jumpy to say the least. When it was time to leave I grabbed my clothes from the locker and went to the bathroom stall to change into them. Adam asked where I was going and all I said was, "Better safe than sorry, dude. Better safe than sorry."