GRINGAS & GUACAMOLE
By Gail Nott
Nudist Camp Etiquette
One should always be open to new experiences. So, when my friend, Rick, invited me to spend the next Saturday at a nudist camp in Central Florida, I agreed without a moment’s hesitation. A hectic work-week allowed me little time to reflect upon my decision. Denial is a wonderful gift that the conscious mind offers us and I wallowed in it.
Saturday morning I was frantic over what to wear! I discarded bathing suit after bathing suit, lamenting that they were all stretched out and faded. Then realization crept in, I was going to be wearing the oldest and most worn suit I owned: my birthday suit. Denial wormed its way back in and I was faced with the next fashion challenge. How do you accessorize nudity: pearl earrings or gold hoops; which sandals, subdued or flashy sunglasses? I opted for the pearl studs, hoping to appear chic.
For the two- hour drive to the nudist camp, Rick and I gossiped, chatted and listened to music. Rick was trying to put me at ease, which I thought was thoughtful but unnecessary. After all, I was a sophisticated career woman with few inhibitions about nudity; I was a veteran of the sexual wars.
As we drove through the manned security gates, I glanced to my right and gasped. My God, there was a bare butt staring back at me through the window. Whatever happened to common decency? I reassured myself that when we registered at the office, everyone would be dressed. Crossing the threshold, my eyes quickly riveted to the ceiling; the room was filled with naked people. Sliding my sunglasses firmly onto the bridge of my nose, I felt repulsed at this lack of discrimination. These people would show their bodies to anyone.
Rick was giving off soft chuckles as he led me to the dressing, uh, undressing area. Fortunately, no one was in the room as I darted behind the curtain of a stall. I took deep breaths, lecturing myself that I was an adult and reasonably worldly. Still dressed, I poked my head from behind the curtain upon hearing my name called. “Gail, you have been in there half an hour.” “If you don’t come out, I am coming in for you.”
Okay, sunglasses in place, check; beach towel wrapped tightly around me, check; book, suntan oil, sandals, check. I could do this. I sprinted out of the stall and onto the first vacant lounge chair, congratulating myself on my bravery. The feeling of smugness quickly dissipated as Rick reminded me this was a nudist camp and staying wrapped in a towel was unacceptable. Struggling to unwrap the towel while lying flat, I inched it to the ground. My sunglasses were my sole link to invisibility. Rick, stretched out full length, naked no less, was soaking up the sun. I couldn’t miss the grin on his face.
Rick had been a long-time member of the nudist camp and people continually stopped by to say hello. My vision became blurry from looking into the sun. As hands were extended in greeting, too late I realized I was reaching toward the most personal parts of their anatomy. How did one handle this situation? Miss Manners never covered decorum at a nudist camp in any of her books.
Rick suggested I might be more comfortable in the pool. Trying to appear nonchalant, I sauntered from my chair and walked off the edge of the pool into ten feet of water. Immediately, I sank to the bottom. Panicking, I began grabbing arms, legs, uh, whatever was available to speed my way to the surface. Grasping the pool’s edge, coughing and sputtering, I spotted a pair of bare feet in front of me. The lifeguard stooped down, oh my God! “Ma’am, intimate contact with other swimmers is strictly forbidden.”
Over the loudspeaker came the announcement that lunch was being served in the dining room. Rick informed me that towels were required. I felt that I had just been given a reprieve and encased myself like an Italian sausage with the towel. As we entered, row upon row of bare behinds came into view. I turned searchingly toward Rick. “Towels are required for hygienic reasons; you have to sit on them.”
The menu included hot sandwiches, soups and salads. The visual image of my luncheon companions spooning hot soup across their naked laps made me wince. I chose a salad; Eve had used a little foliage in the Garden of Eden. Shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, cucumber pieces and onion rings dispelled my illusion.
By late afternoon and two double Scotch, I congratulated myself on how adventuresome and uninhibited I had become. I began to realize that “behind” the nudity were people of all ages, sizes, races and nationalities. Many Europeans lived at the camp for extended periods and others spent weekends with their young children, as a retreat from hectic nine to five lives. Nudity was most certainly an equalizer.
Rick asked me if I would like to visit again. My close friend and confidante, denial, reappeared and I said yes. Complacent, I entered the dressing area for the ride home. As I hooked, zippered and buttoned I experienced excruciating pain. Oh God, I had forgotten to use sun-screen.