I've been in Germany a lot in the past few weeks, Munich to be precise. A beautiful city with friendly charming people.
Now I love the Germans, I think they get a raw deal around Europe, I like their slightly awkward yet endearing good manners, their beer (Tesco sell Erdinger Weissbier for anyone interested, try it), Kraftwerk, Max Ernst (some of his works made my heart sigh in the Modern art museum), the battlefield tactics of Field Marshall Erwin Rommell and not forgetting Jens Lehmann.
But one thing has shocked me, I can live with being given five years in prison for jaywalking or not stamping your train ticket on the U-bahn... but walking around naked in a gym? Please!
The hotel has a small gym, in fact, it isn't a gym, it is two excercise bikes and a walker. It is separated from the rest of the "fitness" area (lockers, sauna/sauna shower and two reclining chairs) by a glass wall. So as you work out, you can see out. I'm on one bike, thrashing away, and a more sedate middle aged lady doing sudoku is on the other, her spectacles perched on her nose.
Through the glass, a big man with a hairy back and a towel round his waist gets out of the sauna, he throws his towel away and flails his weisswurst and dumplings around before he jumps into the shower, which is thankfully partitioned off by misted glass. So I don't have to look at him soaping up his hairy moobs.
Before he got in the shower, he glanced over towards me definatley with an expression that said to me "This is accepted in Germany!" Which was of course a paranoid reaction, he probably didn't look over at all but my spirit was crushed under the thundering weight of his Alpha male nakedness.
Anyway, my peripheral vision told me that the sedate lady didn't flinch or react in any shape or form. I carried on cycling after my momentary lapse in concentration.....
When he got out of the shower, he stooped down to pick up his towel. His butt cheeks were covered in fur, the spot lamps gave me a view his rectal doctor would have been satisfied with before inserting the fibre optic camera. I screwed up my eyes, but the image of his murky chasm still burned on my retinas. "Keep cycling, keep cycling".
I opened my eyes when I heard voices, one of his equally hairy naked friends had arrived. One made a joke... the other threw his head back and laughed. His body leaned against the glass wall! Arrrrghhhhh! It was like watching a snail climb up a pane of glass from the inside! The flobby filaments of his mass rippled against the glass pane! Soap suds trickled between his bum cheeks and slid to the floor.
I thought a horrifc vision like this would perhaps have inspired H.P Lovecraft to create one of his Cthulu monstrosities. Perhaps not an elder god from the depths of the Earth, but one of their minions. Hairy, billowing, bloated, laughing, in a form that could be distinguished as vaguely human. He slid away from the glass, leaving an imprint on it, like a demonic shroud of Turin from behind, with a massive arse. He opened his locker and pulled out his clothes. His belly wibbled as he snapped his oh too small red briefs to his nether regions. He gave me another defiant glance.
I wanted to shake the unflinching Sudoku woman next to me and scream and point, gibbering "Das ist illegal!" but I was the stranger here.... I would have to get used to these customs. Like when Captain Kirk needed to become friends with the Klingons.... we were similar, yet not the same......