The Perfect Life #8
Dear Dr. Perfect,
My free-spirited girlfriend wants us to attend a nude beach. I’m not comfortable walking nude around other people. It took me a while to even be nude around her. I’m afraid if I say no, she won’t consider me as adventurous as she used to. She’s big on that kind of thing. I certainly don’t want her going without me. She’s already put it on our social calendar for next weekend, without my approval. I can feel the walls closing in. Help!
The Reluctant Nudist in Florida
Dear Reluctant Nudist,
I’ve studied your letter and even shared it with my circle of advice columnists, hoping to get to the bottom of your quandary. My columnist friends and I have concluded that you’re in one hell of a predicament. Nudity is about being comfortable with our bodies, when many of us aren’t. Those brightly lit store dressing rooms with their big mirrors are terrifying.
But if you’ve been to a public beach in general, you’ll notice plenty of shameless peoplel. No matter how big and/or hairy one might be, they have no issue parading around in their swim trunks with their grossly utilitarian bodies on display. If you haven’t been to a nude beach before, you’re in for a shock. Fear not, most nude beaches don’t have signs that read, “Models Only.” There’s no arbiter of attraction at the gate, dismissing people by age or physical inadequacy. You’ll most likely be disgusted by what you see and therefore less self-conscious in the end.
As a straight male, I believe that women can pull off nakedness better than men. That flaccid thing flopping between our legs with its buddies isn’t eye candy, in my humble opinion. And the last thing you probably want to endure is other men comparing their endowments to yours with nonchalant glances after eying your girlfriend. It could be a nightmare, but end up becoming something you can tell your grandchildren about. You can entice them with tales of how you braved the nude beach to please your partner and protect the rights of all Americans to be nude when they’re crazy enough to flaunt it in public.
Nude beaches are an entirely different world, but it isn’t a contest. Most nudists are just trying to get a good tan. Our pasty, sagging, freckled skin isn’t going to glow on its own. There’re always a few creeps in the mix, but that goes with the territory. Just ignore them, and don’t get caught leering, staring, or drooling at others, which is clearly marked on the signs. This shouldn’t be a problem, as you’ll most likely be surrounded by middle-aged nudes and the elderly. Perhaps you’re of the same age group. If that’s the case, jump in! Some beaches mandate nudity, whereas others are optional.
In my free-wheeling youth, I journeyed to a nude beach in San Diego with friends. I saw too many naked men, drank too much wine, and got stung by a jellyfish. My hazy memories of the experience weren’t fond, but we had a wild time.
You girlfriend’s brazen imposition has understandably left you shell-shocked and seeking answers. I suppose if you were to placate her, tango lessons would follow. Then she’d have you rock climbing the next week and attending the ballet the week after. There’s no telling how far she’ll go once given free rein. It’s time to put your foot down. March naked into your bedroom and tell her that you’re uncomfortable with the idea. After she’s done laughing, you’ll realize how ridiculous it all is. You were naked and didn’t even care. If you can maintain such confidence, you’ll have no problem being nude around other weirdos.
If you still have objections, try my patently childish reverse psychology method that I’ve advised before. Flaunt yourself throughout the house in her presence. Watch TV in the nude. Eat, sleep, and dance nude without a hint of inhibition. File your taxes bare as they day you came into the world. Frighten her with some naked pushups. If she hasn’t left you by then, she might just be wondering what the hell’s going on. Confess that you’re merely preparing for the big event. She could decide that you’re not nude beach material and cancel plans altogether or be further encouraged by it.
Both scenarios are a gamble.
I promise nothing.
My fellow columnists and I have an office pool going on you. Roughly half think that you should go to the nude beach, a fourth say you shouldn’t, and the rest are undecided. I probably shouldn’t be telling you this.
What does it mean to be naked? Philosophers have pondered this existential question. A civil society is one where its citizens are clothed, and the amount of clothes and types and brands of clothing often dictate social status. I own over twenty suits and detest them all. I’ll pull out an old, ill-fitting T-shirt from the corner of my closet, lament its short length and tight sleeves, and simply place it back on the hanger. Why do we put ourselves through this charade?
If there’s no way out, ensure that alcohol is readily available. Booze is never a wrong answer.
Crawl out of your shell and join the rest of us. The water’s warm.