Thursday, June 21, 2007

The Naked Truth

My sister Jodi and I were promised we would see a nude beach, so we kept our eyes peeled. We were hiking along a narrow, rocky ridge following the Italian coastline high above the Ligurian Sea. It was a perfect vantage point for peeking.

It was midafternoon when we finally spied it. There was only one guy on the beach, pacing around with a mix of anticipation and disappointment. He was clearly a tourist. I suspect that like us he had read about the beach in his Fodor's travel guide. He tried to act casual and go for a swim. Bad plan: it was a chilly sixty degrees outside. Judging from the humbled results he was either very cold or very Scottish. A Speedo would have been saggy on him.

Nudism is better left for the imagination. I read in the newspaper recently that private nudist colonies are offering discounted memberships to young prospects. They say their ranks are dwindling and aging. Indeed, the median member age is 55 years old. It is the same problem the Elks Club and the Rotarians have, they say: young people just aren't joiners.

I think the problem is simpler: young people don't want to see old people naked.

"Wow, Crystal, isn't that your dad and his bowling buddies over there?" Eew.

In addition to the discounted membership, one colony advertised half-price "amenities." What amenities do you need if you are naked? Sunscreen? Duct tape to hold your wallet to your butt? A magnifying glass?

I don't believe them when nudists claim all they want is to "be free." They want to see nice naked bodies, heck yeah. Otherwise they wouldn't care about member age—they'd be happy just walking around naked at home.

There are a few good things about nudist colonies. People are much more likely to notice that expensive new watch or flashy engagement ring. And you always know when someone is happy to see you.

6 comments:

  1. I think the problem is simpler: young people don't want to see old people naked.

    So funny and so true.

    My teenage boys freak out if I wear a long t-shirt on a hot summer night. They shield their eyes and yell things like, "Get some pants on." I cannot even imagine going to a nude beach with them.

    Maybe in a different culture it would be possible, but not here.

    The first time I was at a nude beach, I was about 21 and I was shocked at how terrible some people looked without their clothes on. Now that I'm in my 40s, I think my reaction would be a bit more compassionate ....

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  2. I suppose I was a body snob in my twenties. But now I find dings and scars and irregularities create sexiness. I fell hopelessly in love with a beautiful diabetic, and my feelings attached to all her bruises and swollen needlepricks.

    Ad heck, anyone comfortable enough in their own skin to walk around naked gets my thumbs up, if not any other part of me.

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  3. Yeah, it's funny how that kind of thing changes as you get older. At the academic conference I was at last week, a pregnant grad student was telling me all the stuff she was doing to try to prevent stretch marks (the only real way to prevent them, of course, is to not get pregnant in the first place and she'd clearly missed the boat on that one) so I unzipped my jeans to show her my stretch marks, which I think are cool-looking (they turn slivery in the sunlight) and I noticed that the reactions of the people in the group differed depending on their age. As I get older, I more and more appreciate all the scars and stretch marks and such that carry with them so much personal history.

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  4. "so I unzipped my jeans to show her my stretch marks, which I think are cool-looking (they turn slivery in the sunlight)"

    Ow. That must hurt. You should try Coppertone.

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  5. You probably think it was a typo, but the reality is that I'm this amazing superhero who has all these cool powers. When bad guys come into view, I strip off my clothes and my stretch marks turn into splinters, kind of like the quills on a porcupine, acting like a protective shield while wings sprout from my shoulders and fire comes shooting from my throat.

    Oh, okay, it was a typo.

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  6. That's your superpower? You strip off your clothes whenever a bad guy comes into view? My imagination is getting silvery stretch marks.

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