Here Are Five Facts About Me:
- I won a date on The Dating Game.
- I filmed a U.S. president who is now dead.
- I was in an airplane prepared to invade a foreign country.
- I was in a famous Hollywood movie.
- I’ve been married four times.
Here is the first of my stories:
Nudists Are Normal People…
Or Are They?
After ten years in the suburbs living with a crew cut, a wife, three kids and a dog, someone had to go.
“It’s not about you, it’s me,” my wife Pam said, in her big-city New York accent. She ushered me to the door, adding, “We’ll still be friends.”
That last part rang depressingly familiar. “Bill, I really like you … but as a friend.”
I soon started meeting women. After three strikeouts, my life became like some kind of a prize, something in a Cracker Jack box, that you never knew in advance what you were going to get.
BILL STRIKES OUT
I met Fran in grad school. We were both studying psychotherapy. Required reading included A Nudist Society, a book by noted sex researchers Drs. Hartman and Fithian.
Fran and I were teaching communication skills at churches and community centers. Skills I’d learned too late for my first marriage to Pam, but they came in handy for the next three.
Anyway, as a class project, we set out to test the supposedly renowned claim(s) of these specialized doctors insisting that “Nudists were normal people, comfortable with their bodies.”
My eyes did a double take at the sign nestled in among sprawling trees and lush foliage. Did that sign really say, “Elysium Institute, Bare with us?”
Yes! The perfect place to find subjects.
We signed in, drove through the gate, and waved to someone sitting on a fence.
We passed a shirtless man in a golf cart, who raised his pipe in salute. He was also pantless.
Fran elbowed me. “Hope he doesn’t get whiplash playing golf.”
A naked man holding a tennis racket strutted across the grounds carrying himself as though he were dressed in a fine suit.
I wondered about whiplash.
A guide met us at the swimming pool.
Though fully clothed, his arms and face were burnished like fine Italian leather. Even his voice was tan.
It was the sort of place the entire family could enjoy, young and old alike. Swim, play tennis, volleyball, or just stretch out and bake all over.
Prohibited from mingling, I said to Fran, “Sweet talk this guy into letting us do a workshop. We’ll find out if these sun worshipers really are normal people, comfortable with their bodies.”
The room was packed with people, everyone eager to take part in what we had billed, An Adventure in Self-discovery.
Through experience, Fran and I expected some folks to be open in sharing their feelings, while others would do so with coaching and practice, and some would not.
Everyone was clothed (who the hell’s going to drive someplace nude?), and there we stood before the group, excited to start.
But we hadn’t thought this through. How do we get them to strip? Say, “Hey folks, just toss your clothes anywhere.”
Weak-kneed and cowardly, I looked at Fran. You got us into this. Figure it out.
She shot me daggers, then turned to the group with a big smile. “Okay, everybody, let’s get started.”
She whipped off her clothes.
Everyone burst into applause and stripped down like four-year-olds racing to be the fastest.
It had been years since I so much as removed my belt in front of strangers. But who wants to be made fun of?
The directions were simple. People would pair up and take turns talking about whatever they liked. The listener, without judging or advising, would feed back the feeling beneath their partner’s words.
Fran and I demonstrated.
Fran: An uneasy laugh. “I hadn’t planned on taking my clothes off.”
Bill: “You feel nervous.” I sure as hell do.
Fran: “That’s right.” She took a deep breath. “But it’s okay.”
Bill: “You’re eager to get started.” Because I’m not.
Everyone partnered up and began while Fran and I walked around and coached. After a few minutes we called time, held a group discussion, then they switched partners.
Those people—nudists people— were more open with each other as strangers than any group Fran and I had ever led. We wondered why.
Were they nudists because they were generally open people, or were they generally open people who were nudists? Maybe at heart, they were just four-year-olds letting it all hang out.
Thanks for dropping by.
Write the best caption to put on the fence with the nudist (see above) and win a $25 Amazon gift certificate. CONTEST ENDS JULY 15. WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED JULY 21. ENTER CONTEST
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