notquiteold

Gracefully Aging – With Resistance

I’m Finally Ready

In the winter of my junior year of college, the brief phenomenon known as Streaking streaked through our campus. Boys in thick work boots and wool hats and nothing else ran by the women’s dorms every evening.

One night, a dozen boys staged a relay.  We watched from our windows as they ran by in one-minute intervals. We cheered like mad for each one, and didn’t mind that they could all have been just one guy – they were interchangeable in their blue-skinned sameness.

About an hour later the gaggle of them reconvened (dressed) to holler from the yard that it was the girls’ turn.

We discussed this both laughingly and seriously, and decided that we would stage a different kind of show. An exhibition rather than a run. Yes, we were classy girls.

Because the exhibitionists would be coming out of our own dorm, and because they wouldn’t be a bouncy blur, we were a little more worried about anonymity than the boys. So my roommate donated a mardi gras mask and her long velvet cape. It was a two-act show – first a blonde and then a brunette went out. Each girl walked slowly to the middle of the snowy yard, and then dramatically opened the cape.

The boys applauded with profound appreciation.

I won’t identify the girls, except to say that neither was me.

******

Fourteen years later, I was an up-and-coming young executive (and thirty-five is STILL young; so shut up) – in desperate need of a little vacation.  I just needed to take a short break from the long days and cold winter.

I had two problems – I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to go with me, and I couldn’t get a last-minute reservation at any of the good resorts.

A tourist-agent friend solved both my issues. She made me a reservation at Club Med in Haiti. Club Med was still the hot-spot resort – but Haiti wasn’t exactly top-tier. And Club Med would assign me a roommate, so I would have someone built-in to have my meals with.

After a ride in a scary old plane and an even scarier bus trip through unimaginably ugly towns, I arrived for a long weekend at a resort in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.

The weather was gorgeous, the beach was perfect, and my roommate turned out to be a very nice woman my own age. Not so bad.

Haiti was not a vacation destination for Americans. Including me and my new just-for-the-weekend friend, there were six of us. The other eighty guests were French nationals.

There is a difference between French women and American women. An American woman will show off her body if it is beautiful. To a French woman, her body just IS beautiful. The French women at Club Med wore bikini bottoms only. All the women: the old, the young, the skinny, the voluptuous.

I was mesmerized.  Mesmerized by women walking on the beach, lounging by the pool. One young mother played with her children, read paperbacks, and chatted – with her parents. She was all but naked… in front of her father. Her mother was also nearly naked, and read her magazine with her breasts comfortably drooping against her round belly. I could hardly imagine it. These ladies bared their breasts like breasts were something natural.

On my last evening in Haiti, I went down to the beach, dropped my bikini top, and ran into the water. I was French!

Of course, there was no one there, and I redressed as quickly as I could.

**********

It’s been forty years since I didn’t walk out naked for some enthusiastic college boys.

It’s been twenty-six years since I almost got naked on a Haitian beach.

I see now that these moments would not have changed my life.

But still…

I want a do-over.

I’m sixty-one. Before I’m seventy I want to go to a clothing-optional beach, and avail myself of the option. I’m not going to worry about whether my body is something I’m proud of. I’m proud of it because it’s mine.  I’m French.

34 Comments

  1. You go, girl! And let us know how it all turns out. (Sorry, but I couldn’t be your room mate for that trip!)
    Love your sketch, as always.

  2. Go for it! I love to go skinny dipping and often do!

  3. During my time in Deauville, which was a beach town, I got pretty used to seeing most women sunning themselves without tops on. The men, too, left little to the imagination with their teeny tiny bikini swimsuits. It didn’t matter how ancient or overweight a man was. Some of them had so much belly that you couldn’t even SEE the teeny tiny bikini. Quite different from the huge baggy sacks that guys wear swimming here.

    • Oh yeah, the men. I couldn’t take my eyes off the women – I was amazed at their freedom and naturalness. The men – I averted my eyes.

  4. My time living in Switzerland/France was filled with naked breasts at the beaches and pools. My young son frequently said, “I LOVE Europe!”

    Go for it!

    • Yeah, I’m sure this is one goal my husband will help me attain.

  5. Hear, hear! It’s never too late to go on a holiday and leave the baggage behind! :-)

  6. Wonderful post!

  7. They didn’t do that at my college :(

    • I think it was a short-lived fad. Early seventies. All the kids who had wished they had been at Woodstock – (which was just about everybody).

  8. free penny press

    Go for it.. you only live once!!!

  9. Yes, you should absolutely do it. Your blog readers want to read the post that you will write afterwards! There is a beach on Martha’s Vineyard, MA, that used to be (unofficially) clothing-optional, if you happen to be in that neck of the woods someday. There are probably others, somewhere (though I think it would be more fun to go bare in the South of France!)

  10. I’ll never be that uninhibited, but will enthusiastically cheer for you from the sidelines!

  11. I think I’m going to have to wait until I’m 61 to feel that uninhibited, but I certainly support anyone else who is! I hope you get your opportunity!

  12. I’m with Bigsheepcomunications. Must confess I’m embarrassed by a breeze and that’s with my clothes ON.

    Great sketch. Love the blue. Nice to have a plan.

    • I plan to practice in my backyard. We don’t have any close neighbors.

      Thanks on the sketches…lately I’ve been drawing and coloring the image as usual, but then I go to pixlr.com for background, special effects (like the snow in the blue sketch), framing, etc. I’m still a newbie, but I’m having fun with it.

  13. You go Nancy! Make it sooner than later because maybe you’ll want to do it again. How does Hubby feel about this latent desire?? Hmmmm.. perhaps a future blog.

  14. i commend you for wanting a do-over. i do not like to pass myself in the mirror getting in the shower, but i will HAPPILY read your blog post after you do it.

  15. Elka

    Just for the record: best place to go skinny dipping if you are in the mind to is in the Baltic Sea off of Finland during the summer. It is the only time I have ever gone right after taking sauna. It was tradition, I had to do it along with all of my female Finnish relatives of varying age. I am just relieved that I was well into the water at the end of the jetty when the occassional boat went by. It is really exhilarating to run at a break neck blur the twenty-five odd feet from the sauna to jump into the water. It was my one scandalous moment.

  16. Oh..I think I’d like to be part French along with you! I do love skinny dipping – but always in the dark of night. Will look forward to hearing about your little experiment and experience!

  17. pharphelonus

    Good for you, Nancy. I can only imagine the post nudity blogs (yes, more than one). I’m even already coming up with titles …

    Nipples Burn

    You Missed a Spot

    No banana. You ARE just happy to see me

    • How about: “Let Me Help You With That Sunscreen”

  18. I am envious of a culture that teaches girls and women to love their own bodies.

  19. Chris

    Even in Morrocco, where the women on the street were often covered from head to toe, the women in the French hotels I stayed in were topless at the pool. Very strange in a primarily Islamic country.

  20. Yeah, do it! No more do-overs (I hate having that feeling)! The only time I’ve gone skinny-dipping was very recently, in my own pool, but it was still completely liberating! I often wonder how different my life would be if I just felt ‘free’ in my own skin. Oh, to be French!

  21. How amazing you wrote about this right now. I was chatting to my twin sister, Tina, on Friday about our memories of streaking! At our college, Somerset Collge of Art & Technology in Taunton, Somerset, all the guys were well into streaking (we were there 1973/74) when it was all the rage, I have to say I didn’t have the courage to join in, but had great fun watching everyone streaking through Taunton UNTIL my identical twin sister decided she would join them. My joy turned to fear as I could hear police sirens and imagined her being arrested and locked up for being a streaker! Thankfully she made it back safe and was giggling at my conservative ways. Now we are in our late 50’s and she is severely disabled from a brain haemorrage she had a couple of years ago – but we have so much fun chatting about her lack of inhibition in those crazy college days.
    Go for it … I wish I had!

    • Wow…you brought back another memory for me. Back in college, I remember whondering whether anyone might have thought the brunette streaker was me…it was my roommate’s cape (which she was rather famous for) and the girl was a similar build to mine. I secretly hoped some people thought it was me. That way I could have a little fame even though I didn’t have the courage. So now here’s your sister – she did the same thing for you! You should thank her for providing you with a little ‘reputation’!

  22. You are a braver woman than I! Good for you for giving it a try. Different cultures have such different ideas, dint they?

  23. JSD

    And you will be as beautiful as any of the other women…probably more so!

  24. Do it! This sounds like a dare I should take up, too.

    • If I see you there, I will avert my eyes.

  25. Let’s do it. No regrets this time. We can mark it off of our bucket list. I have always told me wife if i get to nude beach I am in. She laughed and said I would “stick” out and they would make me get a towel to cover up…hehe

Trackbacks

  1. Why did we put our bikini bras back on? « PtbW Blog

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