After a Käsekrainer, a traumatic train ride to Budapest, and renting a “bathing suit,” I was walking down the stairs to the pool. One handing was holding up my bathing suit in the back, and another in the front. My “bathing suit” failed to cover everything.
This was less clothing than I’d ever worn in public.
However, once my feet touched the cool tiles next to the pool and I looked around, all my fears vanished. I was by far the youngest, fittest, and most attractive person in the room. I don’t say that to toot my own horn. Whoever tells you that Americans are the only ones for whom obesity is a problem is a liar. Hairy guts were hanging so far over speedos that my only means of discerning whether or not these men were even wearing speedos was the bright fabric on their sides and back. We’re talking waistlines that were punishing the elasticity of lycra or spandex or whatever material from outer space that speedo uses. These elderly Hungarian men were pushing fabric technology and human anatomy to new limits. They were pioneers.
Although I don’t recommend such comparisons for eradicating self-consciousness, I confess that after a quick glance around the massive indoor pool, I was filled with Pride. I had nothing—nothing!—of which to be ashamed.
Come butt crack, come glimpses of pubic hair, I was a Greek god among overweight, arthritic, and sluggish mortals!
My spirits revived, and I sampled everything the spa had to offer: mineral baths, swimming pool, hot tub, sauna, and steam room. People were drifting in and out of a particular door. I decided to explore.
Outside was a heated pool. Steam was curling off its surface and scattering in the breeze. Snow danced in the air.
Ha! All the young people were out here. So I wasn’t alone!
I slipped into the heat, and waded around for awhile, still wondering what was happening with Hunter—to Hunter!—at the moment. I decided that I’d had about as much fun for the both of us as there was to be had. I ran back inside to change.
That image is frozen in my mind though—orbs of light burning in the darkness, laughter and snatches of Hungarian, snow, wind, steam, and the statues on a pedestal in the middle of the pool somehow sad and pensive.
I changed, thanked Mr. Cabana Boy, my only acquaintance in the place, and walked out into the park. I knew how to get back to the train station from the previous trip, so I started walking that direction.
To burn the florints I had left, I ate a lonely five-course dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
Soon, I was fully, warm, and sleep, riding a train three and a half hours back to Vienna.
Where was Hunter?
[To be continued…]