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Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Banana Hammocks and Spandex

A few months back I was at the gym and enjoying a long cardio workout when I noticed the man in front of me. He had on light grey spandex shorts that were completely see-through. He too was enjoying a long cardio work out - his long hair flopping around while energetically expelling countless calories from his lean frame. Having been here a while I am somewhat accustomed to the amount of spandex men wear albeit the see-through thing was a new one. At the pool I have had to come to accept that a regular “swimmer-sunbather” will climb out of the pool and change his wet speedo for a dry one - poolside.

I know that I blogged once before about the nudity, but I decided that perhaps it deserved one more. The trigger being a friend who happened to visit me from Vancouver and the look of panic on her face as she watched a huge amount of sweaty, spandexed men crowd in around her on a small gondola. There had been a large group of men who had climbed the mountain and now that it was dark, were taking the gondola down. All eager to get home, they crammed in taking every available inch.

My friend was mortified. To a Canadian, this was akin to being smushed in an elevator of naked men. However, these Austrian men were only wearing what they have deemed appropriate work out attire. Not wishing to get too close to these men my friend declined holding onto a bar and instead firmly planted her feet on the floor. Short lived, the initial jerk of the gondola commencing decent left her tumbling into the arms of the men she most wanted to avoid. Delighted they uttered greetings in German to which my normally outspoken friend could only reply with a timid “danke.”

The next day I took my friend to the pool. Although perhaps a little mean, I still had to do it. As soon as I saw the banana hammock man I made sure my friend was in the appropriate place to witness the inevitable. Mr. Banana Hammock did not disappoint.

I watched my friends face once again fill with a look of both horror and shock.

In Canada we are uptight about nudity. And if someone dares to show their body, our culture dictates that it must be young and toned to perfection. Banana Hammocks are not tolerated, and spandex shorts belong only on a bike. We also have unofficial rules - like not engaging in polite conversation with a man wearing spandex bike shorts, or publicly shunning any man who dons a speedo and calling 911 if someone strips down poolside.

I can’t say that I am used to being around a culture so comfortable with their bodies – perfect or not. But I now know what to expect and that has eliminated the discomfort I initially experienced after moving here. And my Vancouver friend? As hard as I tried, there was no way I could get her to the sauna.

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