So I was staring into my closet this morning, agonizing over what to wear when I suddenly remembered the obvious: it's Nude Recreation Week. That's right, this year July 7th to the 13th is held sacred by naturists all across the nation as a week to celebrate birthday suits by going out to their favorite nude beaches (and being exceptionally watchful for jellyfish), by getting together in their own backyards (and discussing why the neighbors never drop by), and by going to regional nude festivals (visit the Portuguese Hall for a naked feshta - you thought the chicken dance was hilarious fully dressed).
Apparently Nude Recreation Week started back in the 70's by people who feel that nudity is wholesome and natural. Never mind that prehistoric man escaped into a set of furs and hides as soon as he could unnaturally invent the needle and thread. Sunburn, frostbite and mosquito welts are apparently very wholesome. Today, the tradition of Nude Recreation Week is carried on nationwide by the Naturist Society to help people "reap the social, psychological, and physical benefits of a healthy and natural way of life." Note that society members refer to themselves as "naturists", not "nudists", by the way. They're just behaving naturally. Those of us wearing clothes are obviously the deviants.
But perhaps a lifetime of being confined in clothing has made me unnaturally cynical. Maybe these naturists have the right idea. And after all, it's a lot easier to be "natural" since the invention of UPF 40 sun block and insect repellants like DEET. So, trying to keep an open mind, what kind of activities are involved in "nude recreation"? Smaller, local groups are celebrating Nude Recreation Week with hikes, barbeques and day trips. The large, regional groups hold their celebrations slightly later, so as not to interfere. At the Eastern Naturist Gathering, to be held from August 18-24 in Lenox, MA this year, they have an entire week filled with a wide variety of nude recreational fun. A few excerpts from their program:
Tennis lessons. Do these people really play barefoot on a hot tennis court? If not, do they wear tennis shoes and those silly little tennis socks with the pompom on them - and nothing else? Could you really keep a straight face playing against someone dressed like that?
Volleyball. Of all the sports to play naked... I'm sure the volleyball events are secretly sponsored by the makers of support undergarments, who line the exit to the resort with sales booths. They probably make a killing as all sorts of brand-new ex-nudists flock to take their aching, flapping bits and prop them up with newly purchased unnatural underwires and the like.
Archery. The program states clearly that clothing is required for this one. I hope nobody had to learn that lesson from experience. Of course, you have to ask yourself why a clothing-required event is included in a nude recreation week...
Hayride to bonfire. This probably sounds like a good idea to city folk who haven't had a close acquaintance with hay and think it's soft. While we're at it, really large fires also top my list of things I don't want to be naked around.
Dancing. You thought I was kidding about the funky chicken, didn't you?
Spanish for Naturists. Still not kidding.
Weenie roasts. Okay, now I'm kidding.
How to be an artist's model. Who are they trying to kid?
History of nudist exploitation films. This sounds like a nice way of saying what we uptight, clothed types all secretly suspect when we hear "nude recreation week". But let's be openminded, here. I'm sure most naturist films are heartwarming family classics, like "Bare Knobs and Broom Sticks", "Swinging in the Rain", "Ernest Goes to Nudist Camp", and "Richard the Third".
Is it just me or did it sound like the program hasn't changed much since the 70's? Hayrides. Making bead necklaces. Dancing. Art films. They were probably too embarrassed to mention the patchouli vendors and "Nehru Night". Setting aside the other, more obvious arguments, the problem with these naturists is that they need to get with it. They need more events in tune with the new millennium. You know -- Extreme, In-Your-Face Nudism. Er, so to speak. A sample program might look like this:
Extreme Nude Bungee Jumping. Hah! You think your silly games of volleyball got bounce? Just remember -- there's nothing between you as the spectator and total loss of sphincter control from the nudist hurtling sixty feet straight down with nothing but an oversized rubber band between him and certain death. Like the whale show at Sea World, you'll want to sit outside the "splash zone".
Extreme Nude Mountain Biking. Go on! Go hurtling down a mountain trail at 35 mph wearing nothing but a grin. Those wussies with the helmets and the heavy canvas shorts think they're so tough.
Extreme Nudist Deep Frying. It takes one tough naturist to hold his ground in front of the stove when that hot grease starts spattering. Talk about your Iron Chefs.
Extreme Nudist Whack-A-Mole. Don't miss.
Extreme Nude Driving While Talking On Your Cell Phone. Makes it easier to kiss your rear goodbye when you wreck from not paying enough attention to the road.
It all sounds like so much fun, one hardly knows where to begin. And it certainly solved that troublesome dilemma of what to wear. Oh, yes, that's where I'll begin: by putting on every item of clothing in my closet.
Just to prove I didn't make this up, you can see more (in some cases much too much more -- follow links with caution) at http://www.naturistsociety.com/.
This article previously appeared in the Manteca Bulletin.
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