In the Buff (Personal Essay)

I had been frequenting the sauna room for months. Ah, it was steamy, sweat would stream from me, wrapped up in that big wooden box, my buddy and I would chat in heat. It was nice for a while, we would converse while releasing toxins, then relax, take a chair on the balcony in the sunlight, and lounge, cooling off before re-entering the hot box, everything was perfect. Perfect that is, except for one thing. Everybody was nude.

Old men would walk around suit-less, tall men, short men, a Spanish friend is round like a beach ball, giant men, most had skin hanging like melted candle stick. In all this heat, sweat and wrinkled skin, there is a commonality, nudity.

Myself, I was tucked away neatly in my suit, a towel strung over my shoulder, I would sit and sweat protected, everyone else would sit bare assed on wood.

But I couldn’t shake it, there was some shame I was brought up with, I cant spring myself in the nude with a barrel full of old men, could I? It’s a bad enough to bare the sights, rather to bare myself. So I sat, wrapped in conversation, fully suited and though feeling ill-suited to the occasion, I felt secure.

It was a day like any other, I flicked the locker handle like a zippo, the it groaned, and I gasped, I uttered a small moan. In my bag, where my towel would normally puff, wrapped inside like an egg yoke, my swim suit, there was nothing.

Ugh, the luck, what could I do, what would I do? I couldn’t go bare-assed into the wood room, I had my emotions to look after, I had my embarrassment. What would I do?

An idea unraveled in my head, ah, I can swipe the long rolls of brown paper for hand wiping, and wrap myself in them, I would be covered… its odd, but hell, I really want to enter the steam room, this is a small determent, it will be over soon, I will be sweaty, showered and refreshed.

I undulated the paper, I wrapped by bare skin. It fit, like a charm, like a mini-skirt… it was perverse. I stole a look in the mirror, it was perverse, it was base, the sexual tension that had spurred its solution, had slyly produced the opposite effect. It was a provocative piece worthy of a gay magazine…

Hell, I am going in anyway, I thought, and I did.

I received a few looks, a few old men muttering to themselves “this generation”. And I sat, wrapped up in my mini-skirt, I even had bend at the knees like girl in mini skirt to sit, it was humiliating.

I sat, sweat began to pop up in pools on my skin, beads began to careen down my body, the paper did what it was designed to do, it absorbed the drops. It began damp and waterlogged, it got heavy, sticky like… then I got up.

With a dull munching sound the paper wripped a slit straight down the middle, the sides peeled away and fell to the ground like wings. I was left standing there, incomplete liberty.

A few men glanced over and chuckled. But I didn’t buckle, the entire satire of it burst laughter, I couldn’t help it, I chuckled too.

Somehow the terrible absurdity of wearing around brown hand paper towels, seemed far more embarrassing than being in the buff.

And I realized that my inhabition had been as silly as the paper towels left crumpled in a ball on the floor, when they split, so had my inhabition, and I was free, literally.

So I realized that the true absurdity was in my inhabition, and it was only mirrored by the lengths I went to preserve it, and what a sight in the mirror it was, but with shedding my security, spurred on by insecurity, I ended up shedding my insecurity, and remaining with but what? Security.

34 thoughts on “In the Buff (Personal Essay)

  1. A new found security.

    I have to say, given the situation, I would’ve done the same thing and I did do something similar while taking pool in gym class. My “solution” to the problem ended being more embarassing than what I was worried about.

    (I’ll leave out details to reverse the cherry like redness that just covered my face merely thinking of the faux pas.)

    Well done. As you were explaining your liberation, I felt a relief for you, having been there myself.

  2. I have no comments, but I love to read this story because it related to myself. When I was in Thailand, I was a big fan of the sauna room. I heard many people said sauna would help people lost some weight. So, I jumped into the sauna room every single time I went to the gym. I used to crazy about exercising and eating healthy food because I didn’t want to be fat! Unfortunately, I have been here for a few years. I have gained many pounds. No more healthy food, a sexy abs, or tight thighs for me ha ha ha!!

  3. I am going to have to get that one out of you sometime; eligant words in parenthies.

  4. Your living the american dream baby, but hey, you can eat healthy, I do it.

    Now that I think about it, I don’t know what your talking about, your a twig (small branch on a tree).

  5. I’ve been in a sauna, but it was a small-room sized box several people could sit in. Not sure what this looks like: “wrapped up in that big wooden box”?

    add a few topics of conversation? (to characterize narrator and may be able to use juxtaposition of several topics for humorous or other effect)

    use intro para. as showcase for yr writing style–I think you could work more on description of physical sensation of being in sauna.

    good placement for that last sentence; maximum emphasis at end of para.

  6. nice similes here!

    maybe work at parallel structure–rhythm seems off with “giant men” sandwiched after longer phrase

    were there any more fit and/or younger men to describe? great possibilities here for describing a few snapshots of men in action (how they moved, what they were doing, etc.)

  7. Yr natural style seems to include a lot of what are technically run-ons. In moderation, if you’re using them consciously for stylistic reasons in personal writing, it’s fine by me, but too many, for me anyway, are a distraction. Of course, not an issue at all in draft, but think of it in revision…

  8. Maybe explore a little that “legacy” of shame? Any earlier memories that relate?

    “spring” seems an odd word in this context?

    “bear the sights” rather than “bare”–is that what you mean?

    I like “wrapped in conversation.” Not sure about “fully suited” or how it works with “ill-suited”–yr call though!

  9. I’m a little confused by time sequence here. I had you already sitting in sauna in previous para.? Are first para.s *typical* events and now we’re moving at a *particular* day?

    zippo-flip a nice image

    Don’t you have to open yr bag?

    I like the egg yolk image (not sure about “puff” esp. if towel is supposed to function as metaphorical “shell”, but not quite clear on what’s supposed to be wrapped inside what (I know from logic but not from the sentence)

  10. not sure about “emotions”–can you expand or evoke the potential embarrassment more specifically, imagine what it would have been like?

  11. “undulated” is a nice word (though paper can undulate, can someone undulate paper?)

    I’d like to see the wrapping process described more fully–great comedic possibilities!

    Interesting “paradox” (not quite right word) at end: a motivation leading to a contrary outcome

  12. Maybe take a line or two more to show “reaction-shot”? (the film version will certainly pan the audience…)

  13. well done–yr reader knows well what to expect, if he/she didn’t already anticipate the outcome

  14. not sure about “munching”?

    what kind of wings are you imagining? (can you make the image more exact?)

  15. I’d like to see the ones who didn’t even lok in yr direction–were there some?

    reword “the entire satire of it burst laughter”?–word(s) omitted?

  16. Maybe combine with next para.–a little repetition in 1st line of last para.

  17. A little too much security/insecurity at the end maybe? The “cleverness” distracts me, at least, from the poignancy/depth of the issue of overcoming inhibitions and insecurities.

  18. GENERAL COMMENTS: Really, a fine draft, much clearer and more focused than yr original personal essay. Many nice turns of phrase and effective descriptions, of a situation that combines comedic possibility with more serious issues. (good title as well)

    I’ve made some suggestions (to be taken or left) for places you might add some description, and I’ve quibbled with a few word choices, etc. I wonder if you might want to use a minute at the end to reflect a bit more on the experience, particularly on how this new-found sense of physical ease might have translated psychologically, socially, etc. (but don’t hit that too hard, if at all). I would say that yr chief aim in revision (after a little consideration of focus) would be to fine-tune writing at style level.

  19. cloths your eyes and put yourself right back in the sauna. how were you feeling what emotions are you going through. write as though your in the hot box rather than writing about your experiance in the box….

  20. protected, hmm nice choice. could be symbolic to somthing other than what is intended

  21. omg that is to funny dude. what i would have done to have been a fly on the wall for that….u gotta be shitten me

  22. i would have fell on the ground in laughter if i wittnessed this shit.. im embarresed just reading

  23. overall awsome. great subject with a little bit of work your gonna have a keeper.. maybe play up the humor a little more. this could be a potential doozy… you can do so much with this dont play it safe go for it….

  24. Hey Holly, I left my computer power cord in Class, I will pick it up tommorow, I appologize, I cant post my ethnography tonight, I will try to get it up tommorow though…



  25. I have been visiting various blogs for my thesis Research. I have found your blog to be quite useful.Keep updating your blog with valuable information… Regards

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