One my favorite former ex-pat pals passed through town on Saturday and had arranged a mini-reunion with those in her former circle still living in Malmö. And because the Kallbadhus experience is something she has been unable to replicate since moving back to the US (even in the Swedish immigrant mecca of Minneapolis, Minnesota), it was the natural place for us to get together.
So it was with much enthusiasm that I shared news of the event with Dr. Darling, a relatively recent convert to the charms of the traditional Swedish sauna and cold plunge ritual, and a big fan of the guest of honor. The plan involved about a half-dozen of us gathering at the adjoining cafe for brunch and a big visit before hitting the sauna.
To my surprise, the Swede was a bit reticent about committing, saying that that she'd be glad to meet the gang for brunch but would prefer to skip the sauna/cold plunge.
"What's the deal?" I asked. "I know you're not big on group socializing, but it's going be a relatively small party. Besides, you know and like everybody who is going to be there."
"Well that's the problem, I'm not very comfortable with the idea of being naked with people I know."
"Present company excluded, I hope."
"Well, you don't count, of course."
"Oh, thanks alot. But seriously, I thought we Americans were the ones with nakedness issues. I'm pretty sure the Swedish government could revoke your citizenship over this."
Fortunately Dr. Darling got over her selective modesty by the time we finished brunch and joined us for a naked sauna and plunge into the Öresund. Not only that, but she actually helped me re-enact our recent run-in with Rude-vig Entitled-sson (self-proclaimed Queen of the Kallbadhus) for our friends…prompting another friend of mine who knows the shy Swede fairly well to ask:
"What the hell were you guys drinking at brunch?"