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Bare necessities
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Posted: Sep 19, 2009

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Ever since a Greenwich couple I know revealed they've been going on what they call "nakations," or nude holidays, for more than 30 years, I've been trying to envision what it would be like to go on one of their travel excursions.

Let me take a second here to say that, at their request, I am not going to bare their names at this time. When the day comes, they said, that they can legally walk down Greenwich Avenue in their birthday suits, they would be happy to reveal their names. That's fine by me.

Anyway, this couple seems to have come across the notion of nude recreation by accident when they spotted an ad in a newspaper offering a guidebook to nudist parks. When the guide arrived, they were surprised to find numerous nudists recreation sites across the Northeast.

With a pioneering spirit, they headed out in their van for one they selected in Massachusetts. Arriving atop a hill overlooking the site, they spied people walking around without a stitch - mothers and children, men and women, old and young.

I imagined myself looking upon such a scene when a line came to mind by the poet, Keats - "Like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes / He star'd at the Pacific - and all his men / Looked at each other with a wild


surmise/ Silent, upon a peak in Darien."
A tour of the nudist park followed - given by the proprietors, in their sixties and seventies and in their altogether. There were game rooms, dance floors, people playing volleyball and ping pong.

Dancing? Volleyball? Oh, my goodness! How ever could I keep my eye on the ball?

Ensconced in their cabin, it took the couple all of ten minutes to get naked. They found the people friendly and comfortable in their skins, whether fat or thin, whether scarred or missing a limb. A democracy of flesh. They determined to be nudists from that time forward.

This couple's nude life has, in fact, inspired them to be in better shape, to live longer. Perhaps this experience would be the impetus I need to finally lose that weight. Imagine attending a nude Weight Watcher's class!

This nudity thing is all about feeling sensual - not sexual - in the elements, I was told. Beautiful bodies are admired discreetly - no wolf whistles allowed. Only a certain amount of single males are allowed, and those with any sexual hang-ups are not welcome. Prescreening by a number of officials, in fact, is done before you're allowed to vacation in major nude resorts.

That's likely because these nude holidays appear to be a family thing

When my friends had kids, they brought them up as nudists. They were told when they were old enough to understand that there were some places they could be nude and other places they couldn't. Suddenly came the memory of my small granddaughter dancing around with glee, loving to be in the nude, and of what her delight might be to live the live-long day as a "nudie."

As children grow older, though, that glee fades. Adolescence and nudism don't seem to go together. Nakations did not appeal to this couple's kids when they reached their teens. Covering up was instinctive, except for swimming in those places where going nude is a rule. Reaching the driving and college age meant hanging out with fully-clothed buddies.

That said, their grown kids still talk about that trip to a Caribbean island when all they wore was suntan lotion and lived on the beach. Upon hearing of their parents' nude travels these days, they were said to cover their ears out of envy, not having the money to pursue such travel pleasures. They missed going on the Alaska cruise, seven days from Seattle to Glacier Bay, when the ship passed into international waters and the captain invited everyone to be naked - to resounding cheers. They missed watching glaciers calve in Glacier Bay while sunning in the buff on deck. But in the captain's quarters, clothes were required. For dinner and disco dancing for the girls - high heels and a smile.

But now for the real miss for these grown-up kids. Their parents have made the pilgrimage to the Mecca of nudist life - Cap d'Agde - in the south of France. A naked city of 40,000 nudies! Think of it, shopping malls, barber shops, cheese shops, wine shops, filling up at the gas station in the nude. Now we're talking about a town approaching the size of Greenwich with everyone on the Avenue in the altogether! Even the policemen - although they'd have to wear a gun belt. (Surely, there's a traffic stopper!)

The word is that police officers, by the way, do take nakations, along with firemen and lawyers, and those of every occupation and every age. But it's mostly the middle-aged who disrobe. By then, we are who we are, physically speaking. Expectations are definitely lowered.

The elderly, too, are said to particularly love nudity, and the retiring community for the in-the-buff is apparently on the rise. In the August 29 edition of the Financial Times, the "growing naturist property market" prominently featured those with attractive backsides at The Oasis naturist community in Pasco County, Florida. Florida, by the way, is indeed this country's nudist capital, with California coming in second. Nudism, it seems, thrives in the warm states. (Makes sense!) The article stated that of the 268 naturist clubs and resort communities located in the U.S., 40 are in Florida.

The headquarters of the American Association for Nude Recreation, founded in 1931, is located in Kissimmee, Florida. Their Web site confirms that nude recreation as a whole is growing in popularity: "Over 18 percent of all Americans would find a visit to a nudist club or other clothes-free experience a highly desirable vacation choice, according to survey results in USA Today."

As for my friends in Greenwich, they have found their piece of nude living real estate at a "premier clothing-optional resort" where - with perhaps future nudist grandchildren in mind - an annual nude Olympics is offered with sack races, egg tosses, medals and ribbons. (I wonder where you pin them on.)

They're ready to pass down their idea of a wholesome, relaxing nakation, where going fishing is done strictly in the nude, "where everyone watches out for each other, where there's never any pressure," and where "being free and enjoying the sun and air and water in the company of like-minded people who make you feel secure," was what it was all about.

Still, I'm not sure that I'm cut out for nakations. I'll admit to skinny-dipping in my time, but the Puritan ethic runs riot in my blood. I can't imagine being naked in public. Why, I'm even against full-length mirrors in my house.

There is one thing, though, that I find attractive about the whole nakation thing. Think of the money you'd save on luggage.
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