Naked Came the Stranger
One of my deeply held beliefs is that there comes a moment in everyone’s life when they absolutely, positively, no questions asked look better with clothing on.
For myself, I estimate that I reached that point in my mid-thirties.
My Eureka moment came while walking down the beach.
I began tugging the back of my bathing suit down, muttering “The elastic in the rear of this bathing suit is starting to go.”
Alas, it was not the elastic in the rear of the bathing suit so much as it was the elastic in the rear of the bathing suit-or. (Suit-ee?)
I may, of course, be deluding myself here. I may have reached the point of no return with respect to covering up decades earlier.
Not that I was doing much cavorting around naked prior to my beach walk epiphany. (Hey, I come from a German-Irish Catholic background. Just as there’s no crying in baseball, there’s no nudity in German-Irish Catholicism – this despite the fact that it was Germans, apparently, who introduced nudism in the U.S. Must have been Lutherans…)
In any case, after my confrontation with drooping butt syndrome, I became more self-conscious about my own personal form, and how it might appear, if I were to be one of those who do like to cavort around naked.
Which I can’t imagine I’ll ever be.
I like clothing.
It protects from rain, sleet, snow, hail, and, if not from gloom of night - when, under the covers, you don’t need so much protection – from the sun, as well. It’s harder for mosquitos, wasps, and yellow jackets to pierce you if you’ve got clothing on. And clothing can be far more easily changed out than can a birthday suit. Don’t like today’s look? There’s always tomorrow.
Harder to pull that one off with the naked form, other than via tattooing, hair dye and other bodily alterations. Plastic surgery, however, does take a while, unlike a new set of duds.
Clothing also comes in a wider variety of colors than that supported by the blah and boring skin color palette. Ditto for textures. Sure there’s dry skin and oily skin, and baby-soft and sun-baked leather, and the crepe-y skin (yuck) that’s begun to manifest itself on my arms. But compared to clothing? Velvet, velveteen, polished cotton, Pima, mesh, blend, twill, chino, denim, corduroy, wool (all kinds – smooth and scratchy), rayon, nylon, tencel, acrylic, pure polyester…. The list is nearly endless.
Plus you can try clothing on, see how it looks, and decide whether it looks good, and whether you want to buy it.
Try that with your skin.
The only circumstance, other than in the tub or shower, where I’ll award the advantage to nudity is during a warm summer downpour.
So, no, I won’t be heading to a nudist resort any time soon.
Not that they’d want me.
It seems they’ve got enough aging, sagging Baby Boomers in their ranks, already, and are looking for the young folk.
Or so I learned from the WSJ, which reported the other day on the outreach efforts being made by nudist organizations.
"The whole lifestyle will just disappear unless we attract a younger crowd," said Nicky Hoffman, head of the Naturist Society, one of the two big organizations of U.S. nudists. "The problem is, most of these resorts aren't geared to young people. They've become like retirement homes; they've sort of calcified."
Calcified. Interesting word choice. Atrophied would have been another good one.
Membership in the two big nudist umbrella groups has been flat or declining for years, prompting a youth-recruitment effort that includes reverse-strip-poker nights, volleyball tournaments, naked 5K road races and music festivals like Nudepalooza and Nudestock.
As youth-recruitment efforts go, this all sounds reasonable – other than the “naked 5K road races”. I don’t care how young, toned, and fit you are, there are certain body parts that are going to jiggle. There is, after all, a reason why warriors gird their loins.
One new group, Young Nudists and Naturists of America, this month is having a naked dinner party in a loft in New York's financial district to recruit members.
And even if it is calcifying, nudism is a reasonably big business. The Journal reports that there are 250 nudist resorts in the country. If you factor in the nude cruise business, it’s a $440M a year industry. Of course, it could be even bigger if they could sell more gear, but how can they possibly push tee-shirts? (“My grandma went to a nude resort and all she got me was this make-believe tee-shirt.”) Maybe they go in for visors. Or the towels they tote around with them, just to be polite.
Good luck to the nudist groups and their efforts to grow their ranks.
It may be a tough sell, given the current show-of-flesh culture that leaves little to the imagination, especially when it comes to women.
And then there’s the flip side of the benefits of having a lot of the nudist action occur in Florida. At one resort:
Signs informed visitors that there were seven types of poisonous snakes in the area and that photography was forbidden.
I don’t know about nudists, but if I were going to be roaming around an area that had seven different kinds of poisonous snakes, I’d want to be wearing something other than a smile. Actually, I’d want to be wearing something designed by NASA, or at least for the Shackleton Expedition. Then, of course, I’d be too darned hot.
Fortunately, it’s not a problem that I anticipate I’ll ever have to deal with.