I take the “no lewd behavior” posting as a good sign. This place seems well-run and professional, I think to myself. Creepy, well-run, and professional. It’s tough not to be a bit creepy when it comes to nude bathing. Clothing not optional.
It starts with a shower and the showers have curtains. Well, actually, it starts with the decision to bathe (and before that, a trip to Tecopa, CA), then the undressing in the room with benches and hooks, then a quick walk to the shower, where there are curtains. And there’s soap, like a hand-soap dispenser found in any other bathroom except that this is a bath room — at one end, there are stairs into the hot bathing pool, and on the other, there are two showers and some toilets. Currently, I’m alone, newly naked, and headed to the shower (required before bathing — again, professional).
Shower goes fine. Still alone. Newly clean and still naked. I start to towel off, but I catch myself. I’m headed to the bath, but my subconscious still seems not to know it.
Time for the hot bath. I can see the stairs leading into the pool but nobody in the water. However, I know there are people in the pool — I can see their clothes and hear them. One of the gents is giving off sighs of relaxation that I deem slightly too loud and pleasureful. At this point in the story, Confucius, or another wise man, would say: time to nut up or shut up.
I enter the hot bath room, as nearly as possible, as I would enter any other room. This room is just filled with water and naked men, NBD. The people in the pool room react as they would if I had entered any other room — they look to the door and at me, in all my naked glory.
It takes a split second for me to realize I don’t actually care about this. We all have penises here, feel free to look at mine. I had thought it would be weird. It’s not. I, however, try my best not see any other penises.
Tecopa is a odd little town. They have these warm baths (average temp is 104F) and basically nothing else. There are a few campgrounds of varying degrees of sketchiness, but it’s a nice little place. Old peeps seem to love it. They camp here for months enjoying the warmth and the water. Adventurous and cheap locals head to the rivers along the road to soak, but I’d stick to the bath houses if you visit. They’re professional and are less likely to have scary-sounding mud mites. If you really are terrified of bathing with nude strangers, you can reserve a private pool for an hour for about ten bucks.
The loud-sighing guy is a Japanese tourist. These baths are so popular with the Japanese tourists that the rules are printed in both English and Japanese. The other guy in the pool is from Palm Springs. We have a brief conversation about Chicago. Two guys enter later. They’re old buddies … I can’t imagine ever proposing a naked soak with any of my male friends. To each his own. They’re younger than the first two guys by at least a decade, and one has a sort of Pavlovian reaction to the water and keeps trying to backstroke only to realize he’s in too small a pool and trunk-free. Whatever.
I soak for probably 10 minutes total before heading to the ‘cool’ pool. The cool pool is only a few degrees cooler and I have it to myself. After a few minutes more, I hit the showers again and head out. I feel relaxed. So either the warm water did what it promised or I’m just relieved to be back in hidden-penis reality. Tomorrow, I’ll try this again.