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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A wedding and a skinny dip.

Ross and I went to a wedding this weekend in Maryland, land of crabs and red brick buildings. He has a whole store of old college friends scattered out through the United States, and this is one of the reasons I know I was supposed to marry him: while I excel at pleasant and charming, Ross excels at friendships.

Ross has enough very close college friends to fill the whole top floor of a hotel, which we did this weekend.

“I don't think I'm going to get too crazy this trip,” he said.

As I watched him climb back onto the pier, naked, following two more of his naked college pals, I remembered his earlier, more solemn assurances. I smiled knowingly at a giddy bystander next to me, as if to say, boys will be boys.

“Should we jump in?” she asked.

I made a face that said, that's a terrible idea, while my mouth said: “you want to?”

We looked at the water, we looked at the moon, we looked at my husband, comfortable in his nakedness, casually chatting with someone while slipping on his just-stripped underwear.

“I'll do it if you will.”

I thought about the time Jason threw a surprise birthday for my best friend Kim a few years ago, on Lake Travis, with a party barge. When it got dark, the “captain” paused the boat.

Everyone got naked and jumped in the water.

The exhibitionists needed no prompting. But some had to be begged and chanted to from below. Eventually, Jason and I were the last ones, clinging to the top deck, still dry, still clothed.

“I'm not wearing a bra underneath this dress,” I explained lamely.

An enormous wet bra was passed up to me.

“Is it cold?”

A drunk shout said it felt like a bath.

I looked down at my new yellow shoes, bought specifically for this occasion. I found a dry seat to protect them, along with my dress. “Let's jump,” I said to Jason.

He pretended not to hear me.

“I'll do it if you will.”

Jason looked out over the water from the railing, and saw exactly what I saw: Our friends, no one's nakedness particularly distinct from the rest. Only shiny wet skin, like a baby pool full of toddlers.

I one-armed swam over to Ross, using my other arm to hold the huge bra in place. He tread water easily, talking to two or three partially or not-at-all-clothed party guests.

“Hello,” he said in a big, welcoming way, as if he himself was host of the naked pool party.

“Hello,” I said right back, hoping to imitate his at-homeness, though with my jerky movements that was most certainly a lost cause. I tread water like a maimed duckling, with only one good wing.

“Are you having fun?” he asked with a smile, at once teasing and conspiratorial. I nodded vigorously in response, immediately dissolving all the cool I was trying to feign. This tent of a bra was tough to hold together.

“Whose is that?” someone asked.

“I have no idea,” I said.

“Nice of them to give it to you!” another piped up.

“It was,” I agreed. We all nodded in appreciation of the Good Bra Samaritan.

It was then I realized I had to pee.

The way I saw it, I could either pee on someone's leg underwater next to me, or use my sidestroke/dog paddle hybrid to get me back to the boat and its bathroom.   The first involved the unavoidable water temperature change, alerting the victim to what I had just done to their leg; the latter meant hoisting myself up onto the boat using my one arm, the other faithfully protecting my womanhood, and in order to make the hoist successful, I would most likely have to drop the kind stranger's bra and use my now-freed arm to complete the lift. Talk about a dilemma.

The amount of time I spent mentally weighing my options revealed something else to me.

I had seriously half-assed my way into this skinny dip.

Which went against the whole enterprise of skinny dipping.

I looked over at Ross, instantly envying his calm, sure decision-making. When we first started dating, it had taken him just a few weeks to say I love you; tonight, it took him two seconds to join our bare, happy friends in the water. I wanted to be exactly like him right then, meaning, relaxed. Not constantly fretting inside my head, not enacting humiliating little one-act plays that never came to pass, not not living in the moment.

The next time I skinny dipped, I was going full monty.

* * *

“I'll do it if you will,” she said again next to me, standing on the pier, the wedding reception twinkling in the dark from far away.

I sucked in, felt my heart beat a little quicker. “Well ...”

Ross strode by in his birthday suit.

Suddenly he announced that the water was alive. I met my friend's wide eyes with mine, and we both laughed nervously, at the crustaceans waiting to crawl over our feet, the crabs waiting to pinch us.

“Nevermind,” she said with a warm giggle.

I walked away from my second skinny dipping opportunity. We both went inside. I sipped a glass of wine, spilled some on my dress, and laughed because I didn't care.


Megan said...

Oh I didn't want this one to end! I really enjoyed reading it--felt like I was there.

And neither you nor Jason ever told me that party barge story!

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Megan - Thanks woman! I wrote it on the airplane last night, and finished it when I got home. :)

katherine said...

y'know, i've never gone skinny dipping. it's definitely on my bucket list. i've thought about getting topless at barton springs, but i'm always terrified the minute i lose my top i'll run into a kid i've taught (or worse, am currently teaching), and that means the top stays on.

well done, you, though!

Unknown said...

This is hysterical. If I had known you were going through such a mental struggle with yourself, I would've given you all kinds of hell. As it were, it's a good thing you decided to keep this to yourself, although I'm glad you decided to finally share after two years. Be forewarned, though... If this scenario ever plays out again, prepare yourself for a proper teasing...

Heather Howell said...

Oooh! I loved this! You should do more posts like this. I felt like I was sitting under the moonlight with you!

Megan said...

katherine--I also have the same thoughts terrorize me when I think of taking off my top at Barton Springs: What if someone I know sees me and I somehow scar them for life?

I should just go to Europe and do it anonymously.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Katherine - Haha, dude -- totally understand about students, and paranoia about them seeing you topless and/or naked. You are right to be cautious. It would change EVERYTHING.

Also? Believe it or not, I had a gig posing (nude) for a Drawing I class years ago. I did it because it paid great and I needed money for a trip to India that summer. Don't know why I could do that, yet skinny dipping freaks me out...

ANYWAY. The very first class I did, I *knew* someone in the class. Thank God she was a former co-teacher of mine, and completely awesome. Still. I felt more naked than naked when she said, "Tolly?"

@Caleb - That's right! You were there! And you got in the water, my friend. Ladies, form an even line!

@Heather - Thank you so much! I wrote this directly after snapping shut a novel that really inspired me, "The Wonder Spot," by Melissa Banks. Sometimes novels do that to me...awaken something and compel me to write fo' real.

@Megan - I will go with you to Europe.

Dad said...

Now Tolly. Daddy knows best. At the next skinny dip opportunity jump in fully clothed. In the water take your clothes off. Then before you emerge, put your clothes back on. Voila! Modesty preserved! Now people can say "No fair! We jumped in nude for everyone to see!" But that's not the point. Naked in the water is the point of skinny dipping. See what I mean? It's just logic.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

HAHA. Voice of reason as usual Dad! I knew I should have consulted you to find the skinny dip loophole.

Stefani said...

Just found your blog. I like you. If that really is your Dad, I like him, too.

Austin Eavesdropper said...

@Stefani - Welcome. :) That really is my Dad. No one else could put together such a canny solution to the skinny dip dilemma.

Becky B. said...

OH, nudity. I married a hippie from Woodstock, and every time we go visit his family there is some naked activity that I am unable to participate in because I was raised by a clothes-wearing family of Baptists. Also, I don't know where to look. Straight up in the air? Oddly, though, I had no problem getting (nearly) naked on stage in front of strangers and shaking my moneymaker as a burlesque dancer in LA.

Anyway, LOVED this post and can identify with being totally cool nekkid in some circumstances and completely paralyzed by the thought of it in others.

Kristen said...

lovely lovely post!

the future Mrs. Smith said...

I loved this post too. I saw your name in Michael Barnes' column this past Tuesday - Hooray for you!

Countryside dating said...
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Beth H said...

this was a great read! and i can relate to how you feel - being naked in front of friends is just totally different than being a nude model or a burlesque dancer (not that i have done either, but i can imagine).