Nudity in the North

I don’t have a problem with nudity. I’m not shocked by strippers, flashers or nip slips.

I’ve seen them all and simply thought, “body parts.” 

It’s always my Mom who comments that, perhaps, my shorts are a bit too short for the grocery store. They’re not, but my Mom was raised Catholic, so a puritanical level of modesty is to be maintained at all times. 

While I don’t have a problem with nudity, I do have a problem being nude in front of my family. (Thanks Mom.)

Aunt Nancy and I were confronted with this issue several times in Iceland. Public swimming pools heated by geothermal energy are very popular gathering spaces for kids and adults alike. Reykjavik has a massive one with multiple soaking pools of various temperature, a big tube slide and a lap pool. Even the tiny seaside village of Vik, population 318, has one. 

We met Adam and Rob, two diving guides we met earlier that day, at the Reykjavik pool on a Friday night. We hopped out of our Uber at the designated meeting time of 7:00 pm and waited behind a group of teenagers to pay our admission.

After pushing through the turnstile, we were instructed to remove our shoes and put them into an elementary school style cubby. We were padding barefoot to the locker room when something stopped us dead in our tracks: a floor-to-ceiling-sized guide regarding how to properly shower before entering the pool. The big red dots indicate where to lather with gusto. 


Aunt Nancy and I, both very mature adults, cackled like hyenas in front of this sign for a solid 10 minutes. Tears were rolling down our cheeks as we walked into the locker room.

And that’s where things got serious. 

They actually did want us to shower naked before going into the pool. There was even an attendant standing by to monitor our level of effort.

I looked helplessly at Aunt Nancy and said, “I promise to shower naked in front of you at some point, but not tonight.” 

She must have sensed my desperation, because she agreed to shower in separate rows and avert her eyes as I frantically wiggled my wet body into a dry one-piece.

It was nearly 7:30 by the time we actually got into the pool. We found Adam and Rob lounging in waist-deep water near the entrance.  

“We thought you’d never make it,” said Adam.

He didn’t realize how close to the truth he was. 

We hit up a few more of these pools as the week progressed. We also shared small hotel rooms that offered little privacy. By the end of the trip, we were almost comfortable being partially-to-mostly nude in front of each other. 


We’re still family, so it’s still weird. But not as weird as it should be. 

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