Dear Wally. When it comes to sauna time, I don’t want to be rude, but I don’t want to be nude…

Wally is a thick-skinned, big-hearted, hardworking outdoorsman who gives advice on many subjects. He would be happy to read your letters and share his wisdom with you. Write to Wally care of The Walleye, 15C St. Paul Street, Thunder Bay, ON, P7A 4S4 or email him at

Dear Wally,

My boss and her husband have invited my girlfriend and I to spend a weekend at their camp this summer. There will be fishing, booze, good food, and a hot sauna.

It’s the sauna that has me worried. See my boss and her husband are traditional Finns, as is my girlfriend, and so I know that when it comes time to “get our sweat on” those three will be happily, shamelessly nude.

I am not so free in spirit. I never wear shorts because I hate my skinny legs and no one but my girlfriend and my doctor have seen me nude since the boys change room at the Canada Games Complex when I was an adolescent. Even then I would rush out of my swimsuit and into my jeans, barely drying myself first. The discomfort of having wet pants remains to this day, preferable to “letting it all hang out.”

I don’t want to be rude… but I also don’t want to be nude. What are my options here?

Yours with hang-ups,
Not A Nude Adult

Dear NADA,

We all have different hang ups, don’t we? I can remember being shy about my body as a young man. I used to worry about who had a flatter stomach, smaller nipples, and if anyone else had hair on every one of their toes.

I remember, an older boy named Kelly (tough as nails, that one) enlightened me to the secret of Body Shamelessness one summer after the gang all went skinny dipping and I, rather than strip, sat by the water’s edge and watched them splashing about with their childlike glee. While toweling his nude body nonchalantly, Kelly said “Wally, no one’s perfect. We all have bad skin or flabby bellies, or”—he paused to look at my forearms—”too much hair. But the secret is to accept and celebrate all of our perfect imperfections.”

And so that must be the advice I pass on to you—especially because you are dealing with a bunch of Finlanders, and they couldn’t care less about the nature of your body.

Now, I’m sure you are worried about seeing your boss naked and vice-versa, but remember that there is no hierarchy in a Finnish sauna. There is only a bunch of goodnatured naked folk, sweating it out for health and pleasure.

Here are your options:

A) Don’t go to the camp.
B) Go, but bring a bathing suit.
C) Take the opportunity to face your fear head on and naked as the day you were born.

A) will be comfortable, B) will be passable and C) is the path to growth and happiness.

Do the right thing: get naked.

Thank you for writing to me NADA, take care of yourself.


Illustration by Shayne Ehman