However idiodic of flawed he may be, my master is still my master. The poet reminds us to never forget our benefactors, and even a cat cannot, in good conscience, look on his master's plight with indifference. I was overcome with empathy, in fact, to the exclusion of all else. I'd completely abandoned my observations of the bathing area when suddenly, from the direction of the medicated bath, rose a loud chorus of cries. Thinking another quarrel must have erupted, I turn to look. Through the constricted opening of the steam gate, in a solid mass of interwoven limbs, spills brute upon brute. There are hairy shins, and hairless thighs, all jumbled as one. The time is late afternoon, and the autumn sun sets fire to a solid wall of steam ascending to the rafters. Through breaks in this rush of steam, the jostling brutes come and go from view. "It's scalding! It's scalding!" Their shrieks assail my mind, seeming to pierce one ear and exit out the other. All manner of voices, plied thick and in rapid succession, fill the bathhouse, building into a single cacophonic crescendo. Chaos and confusion are the only common threads. All else is lost in the din. I watch in blank amazement as the scene unfolds, frozen in place. Finally, when it seems the cries have reached their chaotic peak, a looming figure emerges from the jostling throng. In stature, he's a good half head larger than any fellow patron. His red face sports a beard, or perhaps it's best said that his beard hosts a reddened face. At any rate, he throws back his bright red face and his voice booms out like the mid-day cannon. "Water it down 'fore ya cook us alive!" This voice and face transcend the jumbled horde. In this moment, all else fades away, and the attention of the entire bathhouse coalesces onto this single soul. He's an Übermensch. Nietzsche's Übermensch in the flesh. Lord of the demons. Boss of the brutes. "On it!" comes a responding call from behind the bath, suddenly breaking the spell. Again I divert my gaze. There in the darkness, just discernable, is the attendant in his padded vest, hefting a large chunk of coal into the furnace. Just clearing the furnace lid, the coal rings out with a pop and a sizzle as it falls into the fire. The attendant's face, in profile, is lit by an orange glow. At the same time, the bricks of the wall behind him also flash with light. This is all a bit much, so without delay I descend from my perch at the window and make my way home. Thoughts occur as I walk. Even among this mass of naked humanity, where haori, hakama, and undershorts have been shed and set aside, equality doesn't reign. The greatest of men still rises up over his peers. Nakedness is by no means an equalizer.