In a recent blog entitled Amazing Views, I wrote about McCurry’s experiences at the Berlin saunas during his stay there. In other parts of the novel, I write about the casual attitudes Germans – and particularly German women – had towards sex. The saying at the time was that bringing a wife to Germany was like bring a sandwich to a smorgasbord. (Don’t shoot the messenger.)
Granted attitudes between the sexes have changed significantly in the U.S. since that time. But, in the late ‘60s there were still men’s and women’s dorms at most colleges and universities; where I went to school, there was a desk in the lobby of the women’s dorm where one had to report who they were calling on. That woman would be paged and meet her date in the lobby. Come back after 10 p.m. and you would find yourself – and your date – locked out.
By contrast consider the experience Dwight Evans, one of McCurry’s closest friends, had after going to the home of a woman he had just met in a popular discothèque:
“Wow, what a night,” Evans had told McCurry at the time. “She was absolutely insatiable, but I wasn’t complaining.”
After they had finished their love-making, Evans said, he had fallen asleep. In the morning, however, he had just about jumped out of his skin when he was awakened by Sonja’s mother coming in with a tray of coffee and lebkuchen, a richly-spiced gingerbread German specialty.
“She wanted me to feel welcome,” Evans said. “Problem is, I couldn’t exactly get out of bed and greet her properly.”
In a blog called Stephen Goes to Germany in an article he quoted from, it appears that the attitudes I observed from the ‘60s haven’t changed much:
Public nudity is accepted in a lot of areas and Germans are not prudes. Saunas and pools are no exception, even in public parks, people bare their bodies to catch a few rays. Talking about sex is common and the nudity on television delighted my son when he was a teenager. Sex shops are a common occurrence in most major cities and prostitution is legal so hang up your Puritan ways before heading to Germany.
Frankly, I am not sure we will ever catch up. Just as well I guess; we need the flashers to keep us amused.
Oh, I forgot about the sex shops and legal prostitution. That will definitely have to be the subject of another blog.