|The Viking Club
Well, it’s not the mile high club but it was pretty amazing anyway….I am visiting a friend from my high school days in Norfolk, Jeanine, who married a Dane twenty years ago and has been here ever since. Last night she asked me, “Hey, do you want to become a member of the Viking Club?”
“Sure,” I reply, “Who doesn’t? What’s the Viking Club?”
“Well, you get naked and jump into the ocean. Three times.”
“Don’t some people have heart attacks when they do that?”
“Sure, but I’m a nurse and they have plans in place for that kind of thing,” replied Jeanine calmly.
I wasn’t sure what scared me more, getting naked in front of other people or jumping into the frigid North Sea. No, I’m sure, it was getting naked, definitely that. You can warm up from cold water but you can’t unsee a naked body. But since I lost Michael, I’ve been really drawn to doing things that scare me yet send a little thrill through me as well, and this was absolutely a check on both counts. In Denmark, naked bodies are no big deal and they are very comfortable with it. I mean they wear clothes normally, but when they don’t, meh, who cares?
That night, I was so nervous, I refused to even think about it so I wouldn’t talk myself out of it. The next morning we drove to the Jomsburg, a private club, with peek-proof fencing around it. Jeanine used her membership card to get in the big gate, and we walked through a sandy beach area, then onto a u-shaped pier with ladders going down into the green murky ocean. It was fairly calm today, but raining, and a storm was blowing in that afternoon. There was a row of shelters along all three sides of the pier, and the open sides faced each other and the water. We undressed completely in the shelter and hung our clothes on hooks, then went to one of the saunas to prepare for our dip. Naked men and women of every age, shape and body size were walking the pier, jumping into or climbing out of the water, or sitting in the sauna. It was the most natural, yet bizarre experience, to watch the men and women talk to each other, sitting naked, having a perfectly normal conversation. Nobody but me covered up with a towel while they were walking or sitting, so I stopped doing it since it made me stand out.
We sat in the sauna until we were good and sweaty, then went back out in the rain, to the dock. Jeanine went into the water first. She climbed backwards down the ladder, then, when the water was belly button level, she crossed her arms and fell back into the ocean. That seemed like torture to me, so I went down until my feet hit water and then very ungracefully jumped in completely. I went under, came up like a shot, screamed and raced back up the ladder. Holy mother of brain freezies!!! But I couldn’t stop laughing, it was exhilarating. We went back to the sauna, roasted for a while, then jumped in again. Much easier, so much so that the last time I did it, I swam from one ladder to the other one, about 10 feet away. I only screamed the first time, nobody else acted like it was anything other than warm bath water, although no one spent more than 60 seconds in. People entered the water in a variety of ways. Some dove in or jumped from the pier, about five feet above the water, mostly the guys. The women used the ladders to lower themselves gracefully, or not, as in my case, into the waves. Jeanine said some people go every day, and she’s been there when it’s icy, like a slushy.
That is some hard core shit right there. So, I’m officially a Virginia Viking, although I don’t have any pictures to prove it….no cameras allowed. Thank God.