I was not expecting full frontal nudity. The add had stated, “European style hot springs spa for couples,” which to me meant, I could go topless. Last time I checked, Europeans were not running around the beach totally naked. But somehow the definition of “European” had clearly come to mean something very different to these people than it did to me.
My husband Joel and I were in toasty Palm Springs for some R&R. We were staying at a lovely but bland family resort and really wanted to go for a dip in the area’s acclaimed fresh water pools. In the local visitor information was listed, “Living Waters Spa for couples.” It sounded great, no kids splashing you, quiet and serene; they even served wine and cheese in the afternoons. However, as a preacher’s daughter from rural Indiana; “European” definitely did not describe the way I was raised to view the body and nudity. I called and spoke to the spa owner, who assured me that it was a lovely environment that simply offered guests more “freedom” than traditional resorts. We decided to go for it.
As we were getting ready to leave I glanced in the mirror before putting my shirt on, looking at my breasts, wondering if they were ready to greet their public in the full light of day. I felt my stomach tighten and nerves start to run through my body. In the years since leaving my religious up-bringing I had begun experimenting with different versions of myself, trying things on for size to find what truly fit. Except this wasn’t really so much about trying something on, as it was about taking something off. No, I definitely could not do this; I could not go topless in public. I’m not that girl. Flash your boobs at a party, never. Lift that shirt for some shiny beads at Mardi Gras; you’ve got to be kidding! I began to realize just how much I adored my swimsuit and all that it covered on me and everyone else for that matter.
Arriving at the spa, I began to calm down. Much to my relief it looked modern and sophisticated. Not the kind of place where classless young men would be pointing at my chest and yelling “boobies” as I had feared. Instead it was serene, as well as gated off for privacy. Joel and I approached the front entrance, hand in hand, looking forward to a relaxing day poolside. At this point we had been married for a solid six years. During that time Joel had added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame and an equal amount of confidence. That, combined with all the heavy lifting he had done lugging around and sorting through our psychological baggage, made him a physical and emotional presence beside me.
Steve, one of the owners, greeted us at the front door. He was wearing no shirt, but had a towel draped around his waist. His build was half-fit middle age, clearly active and also clearly not planning to lose the small spare tire around his mid-section. “Hi, you must be Joel and Michelle,” he said warmly, “welcome to our spa.” His authenticity put me at ease and I liked him immediately. Having completed the introductions he stepped ahead of us to give us a tour of the place. We were following a couple of feet behind him when all of the sudden he just let that towel fly off and much to our shock there was a 50 year old ass staring at us. He was totally fucking naked. Oh dear god, oh dear god, oh dear god, was all my mind could come up with. Not to mention a juvenile urge to giggle. Joel grabbed my hand in shock; we both stared straight ahead, knowing we’d bust out laughing if we dared to look at each other. And it seemed really rude to laugh at someone when they were standing in front of you naked. My mom would be proud that even in the face of a naked ass my manners were still holding up.
The spa itself was lovely. The views of desert and mountains on all sides of the circular property were breath taking. There were private rooms for guests around the periphery and a sparkling fresh water pool and whirl pool were nestled in the middle. It could not have been more perfect….except all the naked people lying around everywhere! This was no European spa, this was a nudie camp.
Steve took us into the registration center where his wife Beth was sitting behind the desk doing paperwork: topless. Much to my relief she had a little sarong tied around her waist. Although, when she stood to shake our hands I saw just how little the sarong was, really, more decorative than anything because there was her cooter staring me in the face. And I do mean staring at me. When you are faced with mass amounts of naked people it’s as if their genitals are yelling at you to look at them. It’s this 7th grade sort of curiosity that sweeps over you. I stretched out my arm to shake hands with her and exchanged the appropriate social pleasantry of, “Hi, it’s nice to meet you.” All the while in my head yelling, “don’t look at her pussy, don’t look at her pussy, pretend this is normal, eye contact eye contact, DON’T LOOK…” Somewhere about this point Joel just went mute. The shock of it all was too much for him to take. We held hands as Steve walked us around the rest of the resort as if we had suddenly been dropped in a war zone and must cling to each other for dear life. We were entirely taken aback and unable to process what our eyes were taking in.
Much to our chagrin Steve took the time to introduce us to all the other guests one by one. There was Bob and Mildred, with his old man, almost hanging to the ground ball sack and her boobs that truly hung down to her waist, resting just above her 60 something year old Brazilian waxed pussy. And who could forget Chris and Kendra. His chiseled abs just seemed to point their way south as if to say, here, look at my unusually large penis. Clearly comfortable with herself, Kendra straddled the lounge chair, cooter open for the world to see, while she greeted us. On and on it went in a sea of names and naked bodies. I hoped the other guests would think that the flush red on my cheeks was a little sunburn as opposed to the mortifying embarrassment I was actually experiencing.
Steve led us to our room for the day and left to go attend to other guests. We watched Steve walk away, ass crack and all, until we were sure he was out of ear shot range. Then in full junior high mode we collapsed on the floor laughing and gasping for air as we sputted words out between laughs like, PENISES!, BOOBIES EVERYWHERE!, and other such forms of mature dialogue. After the explosive laughter subsided we sat on the floor quietly.
It was at this moment that for the first time it began to strike us the true question at hand: How much are we going to take off? It might be funny to walk into a room of other naked people. But it was downright scary to walk into a group of people naked yourself.
Joel, having a far more extensive naked resume than I, was fairly ready to take it off. Back in our college days, he was hailed as the naked Malaysian sensation, and could be found on dark nights playing ultimate in the buff no questions asked. While the adventure at hand demanded a group of mixed company and the full light of day, he felt he could, well – hang.
I however, was more of a rookie. I had never been the biggest fan of my body. It had never looked or performed to my standards. Not to mention that modesty was a huge family value during my growing up years. The body was linked to all sorts of sins that one must avoid so as to not slip into the fiery pits of hell. The trouble with that was avoiding the sin meant avoiding your body as well, which I had become a master at.
Yet slowly and sheepishly, over the years, I had grown quite comfortable walking around our apartment in the buff. In fact, I really enjoyed it. This evolution from my prudish past had occurred with the acceptance of a loving partner, as well as the simple ease that develops with oneself as a natural by-product of time.
Deliberations continued for quite sometime, weighing peer pressure and our desire to do something new with our insecurities and sense that the world would somehow end if we walked into a group of people totally naked. Personally, I debated taking my top off and keeping the bottom of my bikini safely on. However, that would make me the ONLY women there with bottoms on and I feared that would draw even more attention to me than if I were naked entirely. Finally, it was reluctantly decided that when in Rome…and so we began to slowly and nervously disrobe down till we hit just plain old naked skin. After taking the deepest breathe I could possible muster, I proceeded to stroll out of our room buck naked. I tried very hard to pretend to be one of the cool kids and act like this was no big deal. When in fact, it was a very big deal.
We walked over to two lounge chairs and quickly put our towels across them. Wondering how many bare asses had sat there before I took extra time to carefully arrange my towel over the entire chair. Trouble is though, when you are naked in a group of people most anyway you need to bend, sit, reach, or lean makes you awkwardly aware of the various angles people are getting of your flesh. Squatting with no clothes on looks very different than squatting with clothes on. And then there was the sun tan lotion issue. I had forgotten to put it on in the room, what was nude sun tan lotion etiquette? Do I just sit there and rub lotion all over my boobs and nipples? And what of my husband, is he just supposed to grab his dick and rub on sun block? That can’t be ok can it? We opted out of lotioning genitals in public and just laid on our stomachs. As I lay there all I could think about was the fact that I was naked. It was like a constant loop in my head, you’re naked, you’re naked, you’re naked…
As the blazing desert sun grew hotter on our exposed bums my husband suggested we take a dip in the fresh water pool. I got up carefully, trying not to totally and completely wave the crack of my ass in the air as I got off the chair. The water was softly cool and felt amazing. I stepped in deeper and deeper feeling it rise up to my knees, thighs, bikini-less cooter, and chest. I dove all the way in, swimming a couple of gentle strokes as the water danced around my body. I felt soothed and calm, a sort of centered in my own body I had never before known. When my husband hugged me in a mix of only skin and water I knew that I was officially hooked.
After we got out of the water I lay down on my back, fully exposed, and felt the sun flood over me. To lay there with out a wet swim suit sticking to your skin was entirely wonderful. We began to talk to the people around us and somehow it all started to feel very, well, natural. People seemed at ease and less afraid of themselves. I had expected nudist were old folks who didn’t care anymore or young people with perfectly toned bodies. That did not describe this crowd at all; they were all sorts of people, with all sorts of bodies who just didn’t give a fuck what anyone else thought. I started to notice genitals less and the people themselves more. Surprisingly, I had never felt so at ease with people so quickly.
As I comfortably chatted with other guests I began to appreciate the stories their bodies told and the natural intimacy that followed. Beth, one of the co-owner’s, was clearly a breast cancer survivor. There was a noticeable scar that zigzagged around her mishapen left breast and ran up into her arm pit. One of the older gentleman had made it through open heart surgery judging by the soft pink scar running the length of his chest. Naturally, the vast majority of women past a certain age showed the markings of carrying and nursing a child, the subtle rise of an abdomen that had once stretched and subtle fall of breasts that had as well. Even my own body was giving off clues to my past. My dancer’s feet and athlete’s thighs. My breasts, with the right hanging just above the left, a genetic gift from my mother. The scar on my knee from that trampoline accident with my sister when were little. It was refreshing to experience the silent stories our bodies told as something common to us all and unifying, as opposed to something we want to forget or, quite literally- cover up
Yet of course, I never truly did forget that I or any of theses other people were totally naked. How could you when, while I was mellowed out down in the pool, Steve came over, standing in front of me in sparkling white tennis shoes and socks. I looked up at him to be greeted by an all too clear view of his balls and dick falling just a few short feet from the top of my head. But wait, it gets better, above that, was his tool belt. Yes, an actual tool belt complete hammers, nails, and such. “Would you mind if I did a little repair work?” He asked ever-so kindly, not wanting to disturb the peaceful environment. The irony of protecting his feet but not his dick was not missed on me.
In that first, of what have now become many nudist experiences, I couldn’t ignore the naked truth. The great irony of being nude, in front of many many people, is that I actually forgot what my body looked like and began to focus on what it was experiencing. What does sun feel like on my skin? What does skin on skin feel like? What our bodies look like really means very little to any of us compared with what it’s like to experience them. And I can’t help it if I happen to be the kind of girl who prefers experiencing her body with no clothes on it.