There is nothing strange about fear: no matter in what guise it
presents itself it is something with which we are all so familiar that
when a man appears who is without it we are at once enslaved by him. —Henry Miller
It’s amazing what can sneak past one’s consciousness in the midst
of a vacation, under the spell of the tropic sun — an elderly man who must
have been in his seventies, shuffling around the beach with about nine
tiny brass padlocks hanging from his scrotum. He sported no blue Mohawk,
nor was his hair spiked. He appeared a normal old guy who could have
been tottering toward the corner grocery for a newspaper instead of down
the white sand toward the grass hut/bar. Except, of course, he was
naked, as nearly everyone at the resort was.
My wife actually talked to him, but did not ask about the locks.
He told her he was going to get his wife a drink, ply her with alcohol so
she would “give him a little later on.”
He added, she said, “At my age, you take it where you can get it.”
I can imagine her, smiling back at him, nodding.
I’m trying to figure out my delayed obsession with him and his
locks — something drawing my memory to him, moth to porch light. Never
once did it occur to me to talk to him, inquire. Never, until I was
buckled into my seat on the plane returning home. Too much distraction
probably Too many other naked bodies.
My mind wanders leisurely from the old man and his locks and I
remember what a friend asked me recently regarding the clothing-
optional experience, “Isn’t nudism sexual?” The question was put forth
in a tone of accusation.
And I became, and I am still, defensive. The answer is yes,
although I can’t speak for anyone beyond myself. I know this: As a recent convert
to nudism, having only limited experience to draw upon (five or six visits
to clothing-optional beaches in Hawaii) I’ve yet to witness a blind person
in attendance. And I’m positive that the turquoise ocean caressing my
skin, the sunlight warming places previously unwarmed by sunlight, would feel
equally, if not much more delightful to a sightless person.
I guess Morality clears its throat (in the form of my friend’s
question) because I still find myself defensive. Conventional nudism often
includes the entire family;there were many children on the beaches of Hawaii.
Our children, I’m certain, would choose a firing squad or Chinese torture
over exposing their teenaged bodies in public. Acknowledgement of their
parents’ involvement still produces a display of eye rolling. One can
expect teenagers to display teenage maturity, and we respect that.
We did however, encounter our first “swingers” at this resort. A
couple from our home state coincidentally (I’m sure there were others),
were indiscreetly recruiting for some swingers club. The man just
happened to look like a middle-aged soap opera star, or a Senator, and
his wife, well . . . she looked and sounded exactly as you might expect,
a vulgar, heavily-dyed blonde with far too much make up and a voice that
would make a jack hammer jealous.
On the other hand, (I reply silently to my friend’s
question/accusation) I’ve yet to experience anything close to
uncontrolled sexual excitement in the presence of the naked. No, no erections. It
happens, I’m told, from time to time to some of the new guys.
What I have experienced is a sense of freedom that comes from the
realization that unless one possesses some enormous glaring physical
deformity, there’s nothing wrong with the human body. Not fat ones,
skinny ones, short, tall, hairy or hairless. Seeing a three hundred
pound man with a two-ounce penis assured me that my body fell well within
correct human boundaries. Here’s the thing: the three-hundred pound
man with a two-ounce penis knew he was a three-hundred pound man
with a two-ounce penis; he silently defied me to find fault with the
body I was wearing around. And so too with women who to me seemed even
more liberated once that discovery was made. My wife said many women
are taught that their bodies are somehow shameful.
The old man with the locks? Either fearless, crazy, or both.
From time to time I reflect on him and his fearlessness. Not only was he
exposing his ancient, brown, sagging genitals, he was drawing attention
to them. Maybe when we return next year (and we plan to do that) I’ll
have one lock dangling from you-know-where. Or another piece of
jewelry, a gold chain perhaps, or a gaudy Christmas ornament.
Or maybe I won’t . . . I don’t really have the balls. Maybe I’ll
simply let the Jamaican sun glimmer down and transform them to de happy color
of de cocoa bean.