I conducted a small survey on fears. I was curious. I discovered that some people have nightmares involving spiders, falling from great heights, losing their teeth, and others, marauding dinosaurs.

Not me. In mine, I have somehow forgotten to get dressed and realise, as I walk down a busy street, that I am completely starkers. I am exposed, mortified, and there is no escape.

This might go some way to explain why I have always been intrigued by my friend and her husband, who get naked in (relatively) public places at every opportunity. They visit naturist resorts and beaches and love to stay at a nudie guesthouse when they go on holiday. (Who knew such things existed?) I am enthralled by accounts of them – stark naked – drinking tea with the owners of the establishment – who are also stark naked – discussing their respective children, the weather, and how the music of today just isn’t what it used to be.

Don’t get me wrong, sleeping in the nude is a delicious pleasure for me, as is the feel of my bare skin against my lover’s naked body. The idea of letting it all hang out in public, however, makes me squirm with embarrassment and discomfort.

The lure of a certificate

My friend informed me that a nudist resort not far out of town was having a spring day of sorts, offering free entry to newbies to experience the joys of naturism, and to join in an attempt to set a new record for the most people skinny-dipping at once. You’ll be fine, she said.

Two weeks. Would that be enough time to emigrate, or to enter into a witness protection programme? Apparently not. There was no other option but to turn my mind to the practicalities of such a sojourn.

What to wear? Not much planning needed there. What about my do?

The classic Leo Sayer? A style that is all the rage again, apparently, and would offer a much-needed sense of security. Not enough time to cultivate one though.

A Captain Luc Picard? If the glossies are to be believed, this look has had its day, and without so much as a hint of a fringe, I might feel a little too vulnerable.

Instead, I settled on a short back and sides. Sensible, neat, and I hoped, no-nonsense. Very Clark Kent inspired.

D-Day. We met up and drove out to the resort, announced ourselves over the intercom at the gate, and parked our car near the swimming pool area. We secured a trio of vacant sun loungers and taking a “now or never” approach, I quickly stripped off and flattened myself onto my towel.

A cornucopia of breasts, bottoms and beringed penises

My first impression from my vantage point was that, in stark contrast with my desperate attempt to blend in with my towel, everyone else looked completely relaxed and at ease. Some stood around chatting, while others sauntered up to the bar to order a round of drinks from the naked bartender. There were nude people by the dozen, all simply going about the business of their day.

My fellow guests ranged in ages, shapes and sizes; from young children and teenagers to men and women at least old enough to be my parents; a cornucopia of breasts, bottoms, and beringed penises.

A man, wearing nothing but a pair of black socks and shoes, cheerfully enquired as to whether he could use the lounger alongside mine. He went about settling himself into his spot, bending over from the waist to arrange the cushion, his towel, his bag, his water bottle; he seemed blissfully unaware that he was naked from the ankles up. Some things just can’t be unseen.

An actual naked chef

I have to confess that for the duration of my stay I observed my compatriots from afar, therefore there was no banter with new naked friends while leaning casually on the bar counter for me. But I did venture from the sanctuary of my lounger to mince awkwardly to the pool for the skinny dip – only 77 participants, not nearly enough to set a new record.

Another nudie run was required to collect my toasted sandwich from the starkers couple running the café (being an actual naked chef doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?) and to collect my certificate from the man who had broadcast my real, and entire name over the loudspeaker.

I walked, as naked as the day I was born, for what felt like miles across the lawn as 74 complete strangers and two of my dear friends looked on. I am still not entirely sure which is worse.

My certificate is displayed proudly on my fridge. My 13-year old grandson’s opinion of his grandmother’s skinny-dipping escapades?

“That’s just weird.”

Created for Broad Magazine – August 2017
Featured photograph by Dewald Jay