Anytime I see a sign that says ‘clothing optional’, count me out. I like my clothes. They keep me warm and they cover a multitude of ‘sins’. I don’t want to go anywhere if I have to look at other people’s ‘parts’. Especially, if they’re jiggling about. What can I say? Nudity or nakedness makes me extremely uncomfortable. Although, that cannot be said for everyone. ‘Nudist colonies’ or ‘nude beaches’ wouldn’t be a thing if everyone felt as I did. And what about the many tribal communities that exist today? Those folks do just about everything sans clothing, cleaning, cooking, hunting, dancing, you name it! We all enter the world ‘naked as a Jaybird’. We don’t exit the birth canal wearing a cap, a cardigan, jeans and leather shoes. So when and why did I develop this discomfort? I have an inkling about it. I am sure a great deal of my feelings and beliefs about nudity are rooted in the teachings of the Catholic church. Even though our family was excommunicated when I was only 2 years old, those things you learn during your formative years stick with you.
I believe never seeing a family member naked my entire childhood probably contributed as well. I kid you not! I never, not once, saw my parents or any of my siblings in the buff. How is that possible with such a large family? It’s possible, I’m telling you! I am sure many of you are doubting this admission, but it’s true! We were raised very ‘modestly’. Even with my Mom, the closest I ever got to seeing her in ‘all her glory’ was when I wouldn’t leave her alone one evening while she was trying to take a bath. I remember that I kept knocking at the bathroom door and calling her name, over and over again. She kept asking me to wait but I insisted that I needed to speak to her right away. I think I was only around 5 years of age, and I have no memory of what it was that I needed so desperately at that moment in time, but she finally relented. When she finally gave me permission to enter, she was still in the tub, but all her ‘parts’ were covered with little white washcloths.
Going to the swimming pool? Oh my gosh, it was torture! When I was in the swimming pool, it was great. But before and after? Holy moly! To me, it was akin to ‘running through the gauntlet’. Nobody physically touched me but it was terrifying. I was one of ‘those’ kids that went straight to a dressing room and changed from my street clothes to my bathing suit. And I always chose the dressing room that was furthest from view. They always had the most chintzy ‘privacy curtains’. They were never wide enough or long enough. I usually pulled them as far as I could to one side and then hung my towel on the other side to cover any possible gap for someone to look through. Once I got done, I had to find a locker to ‘secure’ my valuables. But there was no way to do it without passing the open area with all of the shower heads and more often than not, two or three unashamedly naked people in the process of ‘rinsing off’.
If it were possible to walk by there with my eyes closed, I would have. But it’s kind of tough to see where you’re going with your eyes closed, so I usually just looked at the floor until I found an available locker, put my stuff inside, locked it, pinned the key to my bathing suit, and went straight to the pool. I know. I was supposed to rinse off first, but there was no way I was going to stand anywhere near any of those naked people, casually lathering up all their ‘parts’ without a care in the world, if I had anything to say about it. Once in the pool, everything was better. The water helped ease the ‘horror’ of seeing so much flesh and so many ‘parts’ at one time. But when I was done swimming and had to go back into the locker room, God help me! Sometimes I would shower with a little soap before I grabbed my clothes and headed to the nearest dressing room but I never took my suit off when I did. Most of the time, I just skipped the shower altogether. It was just too traumatizing.
Do you think I feel any different now that I’m well into my 50s? Hell no! Even though I’ve given birth to three children and had multiple surgeries, I still don’t like being naked or being around other naked people. But as I said, not everyone feels that way. There was one couple that we used to ‘hang out with’ years ago that were ‘hot tub’ people. That’s another thing you will never see me in. I do not do hot tubs. Ever. Anyway, this couple loved to go out to nightclubs and dance as my husband and I often did and they were a lot of fun. If there was ever a weekend that we wanted to get out and ‘work the dance floor’, we usually gave them a call. Most of the time, they joined us. But there were a couple of times that they asked if we just wanted to get together at their house and ‘hang out’. One of those times, they brought up their hot tub. I’d already heard some tales about what had taken place in that hot tub and I was not interested.
The husband was not one to take ‘no’ for an answer. He kept insisting on how much fun it would be. I didn’t like him, he was ‘creepy’, always putting his hands on me (which I had a BIG problem with). “I didn’t bring a swimsuit,” I said, hoping that would suffice as an excuse and he would leave me alone and drop the subject. His response? “I’m sure my wife has one you could wear.” First of all, yuck! That’s like putting on someone else’s underwear. I don’t care if they’ve been laundered, no thanks! I then said, “I’m allergic to spandex.” If the ‘no swimsuit’ excuse doesn’t work, the allergy excuse generally does (even though I’m not actually allergic to spandex). Nope! Not with him! He was already standing way too close for comfort, he was one of those people that didn’t have good personal boundaries, but my last ‘excuse’ appeared to excite him a bit. “You don’t need a suit to use the hot tub,” he then said with a twinkle in his eye. And if I remember right, he winked at me after he said that.
Time to go! It was obvious this guy was getting some zany ideas and I wanted no part of them! My husband and I got out of there in a hurry and I’m pretty sure that was the last time we ever went to that couple’s house. I found out later that they liked to ‘mix things up’ in their marriage. Adding another person or two to the equation was not uncommon. Sorry, not my thing. I missed having another couple to go out dancing with but not enough to entertain the idea of ever reaching out to them again. I didn’t want to end up in their hot tub or their bed. The next time the ‘clothing optional’ scenario came up, it was when my husband and I took our kids camping in the southern part of the state. There were some hot springs nearby and I’d always wondered what it would be like to sit and soak in one. I’d heard they were very therapeutic. I mentioned it to my daughter (who had brought along her boyfriend) and she encouraged me to try one out. I’d heard ‘rumors’ about hot springs and before I agreed to go, I wanted some clarification.
“Are there going to be naked people?” I asked my daughter. She went on the website for the hot springs nearest the campsite in order to check. “It says ‘clothing optional'”, she stated. “Clothing optional?!” I replied in alarm. No way! “Most hot springs are clothing optional,” she responded, “But most of the time, people wear their bathing suits. It’s very rare that people are naked.” I’m sorry, but if you want to convince me, you’ve got to do better than that! The word ‘rare’ is much too vague. And because there was the remotest chance that someone would be naked, I refused to go. It didn’t matter how much my daughter pleaded, I held my ground. She and her boyfriend finally gave up and went on without me. When they returned, my daughter’s face was red and you could tell she’d been laughing. The first thing she said was, “It’s a good thing you didn’t go!” I was then informed (in great detail) that aside from her, her boyfriend and the guy on the lounge chair beside them (who was wearing ONLY a shirt and sunglasses, and absolutely nothing from the waist down), EVERYONE ELSE WAS NAKED!
No way, Jose! Looks like ‘hot springs’ aren’t going to happen in this lifetime! If you cannot keep your pants on, don’t bother with an invite. I’m not coming. I can only imagine if I had gone to the hot springs with my daughter and her boyfriend! Whenever I get really uncomfortable, I usually start laughing uncontrollably. And when that happens? I won’t go into detail, but let’s just say there’s a reason you see so many ‘Poise’ commercials on the TV. From what she described, most of the folks there were older ‘bikers’, men and women. A few were laying on their backs and a few on their fronts and they were all wearing their ‘birthday suits’. In my mind, I see a lot of things ‘dangling’ and a whole lot of wrinkles and flaps and dimples and sags and bags and puckering, much like what I see when I look at my own reflection in the mirror. I don’t like looking at my own naked flesh, why on earth would I want to spend an afternoon looking at that?
If we ever do manage to get to Spain while my son is stationed there, I can tell you one thing. I am not going to the beach! Those folks in Europe feel very differently about their bodies and they don’t mind flaunting them. And good for them! But when I go to the beach, I dress up like John Candy in ‘Summer Rental’. The less skin showing, the better. And sitting there, practically covered from head to toe, while most of the other beachgoers are throwing frisbees and playing volleyball and frolicking in the waves while topless and possibly even bottomless? No thanks, I’ll pass. I’m still traumatized from the swimming pool when I was a kid. Thank you so much for stopping by. For the folks that are ‘following’ me, I am grateful for you and the continued interest you have in reading about the variety of things I talk about each day. I’m no poet laureate or anyone with significant credentials to speak of but I do enjoy the opportunity to share things about my life and family or to just make simple random observations. I love to write and I try to infuse humor into everything I do, especially when I write. And I hope I was able to make you smile, especially if you had a really crappy day. If all goes well and I haven’t run you off, I trust you will return tomorrow as will I.