I wrote this several years ago and have never found the right place to publish it. Perhaps because it’s a little quirky. Or slightly uncomfortable for some folks. It offers a look into my childhood living with alcoholic nudists. Yeah, you read that right. Enjoy…
Just Be Naked
It’s hard to take someone seriously with their dangly bits hanging out. But you should. Say you’re talking with a naked man. First, don’t laugh. And you always, always, look directly at his eyes. Or maybe straight down at your own feet. But only if your cervical spine is capable of a complete ninety degree flexion. Otherwise, the slightest tilt of your head can put you in a very serious situation.
There are times in life when you find yourself thinking, Is this for real? Like the universe is playing some grand joke on you and all the deities are having a good laugh at your expense. Hahaha, they squeal in delight as they concoct some new way of subjecting you to an experience that is horrifying for you but somehow deliciously funny to them. Like the time my father stood watching me mow the lawn naked. Wait. I was fully and safely dressed. I was, after all, pushing a spinning metal blade around and it was uncomfortably close to my feet. He, on the other hand, was going for an authentic, all-over tan except for the bottle of Corona in his hand. So technically, the sun couldn’t reach all of his skin. And as if that couldn’t get more awkward for a teenage girl who was already so weathered by life that she seeped cynicism from her pores, he then turned to walk away, noticed something on the ground worthy of his investigation, and bent down to inspect the nameless object. At the waist. Somewhere in the background I heard “Blue Moon” by The Marcels playing. It’s not often one gets to see a full moon in the bright afternoon sunshine. But there it was. In all its glory.
My father wasn’t the only one who liked going naked. My mother shared his nudist tendencies. Now, there is nothing wrong with being a nudist. I completely and utterly understand the joy of being released from modern-day rayon bondage. Ladies, we share a gift so wonderful it’s hard to put into words. At the end of a long day, after going through our routines, keeping ourselves held in tight and upright, we come home, slide one strap off, do that little mysterious unhooking thing that guys can’t figure out, and slide our bra through a sleeve. It’s like a frickin’ magic trick. And it is sinfully pleasing to let the girls out and work a magic trick in at the same time. So I get it. Naked is good. But time and place, people.
One day, I spent the afternoon with my mother while she relaxed in our pool. I was sitting at the edge, feet dangling in the water. She was on a flotation device of some kind, lying on her back, presumably watching the clouds and dreaming of a better life, when I looked over at her and realized that her suit was no longer holding her in. You might think of the loyalty you have to your own mother, and know that you wouldn’t even dream of telling such a story. But this is my mother, not yours, and she didn’t give a crap that her boob was floating beside her, a testament to years of breastfeeding and gravity. She just put it back in her suit, laid her head back into position, and went right on enjoying those clouds and dreams of a better life.
Not wearing clothing in my house was just the way to be. A natural state. It didn’t matter if clothing was on or off. Everything moved forward the same way, regardless of state of dress. If there was to be praise, help with homework, chores, dinner, or ass whoopins, clothing had no bearing on it. Too many people get all uppity about layers of cotton and polyester. Look at it this way: my family saved a lot of money by not staying current with fashion trends.
My sister and I share stories about our childhood with each other. With so much to witness, there was no way we could both be there for all of it. So we talk. And we laugh. About the time that our father met and was sharing a story with a stranger, and during the conversation, his balls fell out of the bottom of his shorts and everyone noticed except him. Or the time that I had a friend over for a “girl’s night,” and our mom pulled the same maneuver our dad did while I was mowing the lawn. Lessons in anatomy no one was expecting. And though the content is perhaps unusual, though I kind of doubt it, the effect is the same as any other two people sharing stories. We laugh, and we remember why we love being sisters. To help each other through all the wonky shit that happens in life.
My parents weren’t always running willy-nilly through life without a care for clothes. Sometimes they dressed. As a friend of mine once explained, You can always tell when Melissa’s parents have been fighting. Their closets are empty. Because it’s hard to take someone seriously with their dangly bits hanging out. Even if you’re naked, too. Especially if you’re naked, too.
There are probably more places than one would think where not only is it acceptable to run about letting your man- and woman-parts flap in the breeze, it’s expected. The “last trail” leading down to a beach. Private hot springs. Resorts. Designated multi-family communities. Skydiving companies. Yup. Naked skydiving. I’ve got one word for you, naked skydivers: velocity. It’s common for a plummeting body to reach speeds of well over one-hundred miles per hour in a free fall. The human body is not an entirely solid structure. Some things move around with the breeze created by a free fall of such speed. I suppose on the upside, a woman will be about as prepped as possible for a mammogram after a naked skydive.
But nakedness. Really, what is this unnatural concern with nudity and why such a fear of other people seeing you in all your naked glory? We all have (basically) the same parts. Some of us are lucky enough to have an extra part, or to be missing a part, or to have a bionic part. Like I do. It really helps us stand out in a crowd. What are you wearing to the dance tonight? Uh, just my insulin pump. You? A missing toe or extra finger goes a long way in helping people remember your name. We were born naked and it didn’t bother us a bit then. Why add one more thing to the list of things to worry about in life? Just be naked.
In March of 2015, 786 people contributed to the largest skinny dip ever to take place at that time. Hundreds of people ran frantically toward the water, many of them willing to be naked in public yet still covering themselves with strategically placed hands and forearms. Others, abandoning their inhibitions, ran madly, arms thrown out, confident in their nakedness. And still others showed off for the camera, bouncing around for maximum dangly-bit movement. The world can be a strange, naked, thrusting place.
In my early twenties, I spent about six months living in a nudist colony in Louisiana. That winter, the coldest day-time temperature was in the forties. Feeling a bit chilly, I bundled up in my jacket and beanie, and headed out for work. On the way out, I couldn’t help but admire the dedication of these nudists: sunbathing in the winter sunlight, not a thread of clothing on anyone, lying on bath towels like it was a hot summer day on the California coast. Just a winter sunbath in the bayou. One of the women among the cold-sun bathers was spread-eagle on her towel, forearm across her eyes to block the sun, resting lifelessly, as if to defy the climate and will the air to warm. There is no way that woman was anything other than cold. Her very core was exposed to the chill in the air.
So, you can see that my parents weren’t so out of place with their nakedness. And wearing naught but a birthday suit isn’t such a terrible thing. There are a number of practical benefits. As my parents discovered, your clothing bill decreases drastically. After a workout, having a fully exposed, sweat-covered body will help bring down your body temperature faster. You don’t have to waste any time getting undressed for a shower. If you’re an introvert, you may like that most people will leave you alone. Stay away from that naked lady, Sally! And even when you find yourself in situations where you are required to wear clothes, such as going out to dinner, keep in mind that most restaurant postings only state that a shirt and shoes are required. So stroll on into the dining room in a tank top and flip flops, and don’t worry a bit about having to unbutton your pants for room if you eat too much. For protection purposes, you may still want to place your napkin in your lap. You definitely don’t want hot food on your dangly bits. Especially soup.
So reader, I hope that you have gained something from my naked ramblings. Some small (or large) nuggets of wisdom that you can take with you on your way through life, naked under your clothes if nowhere else. At the very least, keep these nuggets with you. Always look a naked man in the eye. Dine without pants. And if things ever get too serious for you, remember, it’s hard to take someone seriously with their dangly bits hanging out.