While I have a few more reviews to publish yet, we are nearing the end of this experiment I affectionately labeled “NAKED IN AMERICA.” West coast wildfires, weather, and other life events have caused us to curtail our itinerary a bit, but by the time we get home, we’ll have visited about twenty naked places in the United States since May – from Florida to Vermont, New York to California, and through much of America’s heartland along the way.
With that, I will present our conclusion of our thoughtful deliberations on how American nudists are dealing with the pandemic. WE. ARE. SO. FREAKING. CONFUSED!
Suffice it to say, as we both work in education, we fully understand the depths of disruption Americans are experiencing at every turn. The nature of my particular work relies on three critical components: travel; funding; and the ability for students to work collaboratively. My last time in an airport was March 13, 2020, and as all funding pipelines have since been shut-off, and most students in our region are living in virtual classrooms, it seems apparent that a return to previous routines is not actually going to be a thing – ever. I still have a job, and I’m deeply grateful for that, especially in light of so many of my colleagues (and former students) who are having to reinvent themselves in real-time.
You can probably imagine that our experiences at various nudist places across the country have been varied, at least, and more often than not, flat-out disquieting. Some are in-step with the precautions you might experience in a top-flight hospital or hotel, putting us through a rigorous COVID orientation while tracing where we’ve been before we’re allowed to check-in. I think every place has made us sign some sort of contract regarding our health status upon our arrival, but what happens beyond the front gate has been all over the map. We’ve heard a lot of different explanations for that. Here are the most frequent:
“We don’t have many cases in this part of the country, and we’re really not sure it’s a thing. You’ve gotta live your life, don’t ya?”
“No one here has tested positive yet, so we’re okay”
“We’ve got a lot of older folks, so we take things very seriously around here.”
That one is particularly interesting as we’ve heard those words, verbatim, from a woman in reception of a nudist park wearing a mask behind a plexiglass shield, as well as from a naked guy near the pool who put down his beer while offering to shake my hand. (I offered an elbow, instead.) But the most curious, and frequent explanation has been…
“We’re a very tight-knit community here. In fact, we pretty much live in a bubble where we trust that no one is going to wreck things by bringing that virus thing into our community.”
To which I want to reply…
“THEN WHY THE HELL DID YOU LET US IN? We clearly have the wrong license plates to be in your bubble. How would they know that we’re on the way across the country to visit elderly parents and that we’re being doubly, triply, crazy careful every time we stop to gas up the car or order food for take-out?”
The bizarre part of all of this is that even if she were willing to take the risk – which she’s not – my wife has been forbidden to hug her elderly father as per the careful and consistent policies put in place by his care facility. This, despite the fact that given our distance of 3000 miles from door to door, and our current reluctance to fly, (I used to fly two or three times a month, minimum.) there’s as good a chance as any that we may not see him again. Life at his age can turn on a dime, but you don’t want your carelessness to be the coin that pushed him over the edge! Two of our grown children have refused hugs as well, which we also respect, as they are eager to contain the pandemic not for life to “return to normal,” but so that we might start imagining the “new path forward.”
I should reiterate, there have been a few places that have been consistent and regimented in aligning to all the policies most of us have become accustomed to in the neighborhood grocery store, the dentist’s office, and even a few outdoor dining establishments. But those have not been the majority, which has most certainly changed the dynamics of our trip. Not that we haven’t been able to keep our distance when we need to, as we keep hearing, “Wearing a mask is a personal choice.” But I think it’s fair to say one certainly feels outside the norm when they are the only two people wearing masks in a sea of naked people – totally naked people, around them, or alternatively, hovering over their Kindles in the corner of the pool hoping to avoid uninvited conversations with their inherent aerosols. (If you’re standing in a swimming pool 18-inches from a stranger who’s talking loudly over the music, does the Chlorine kill the germs? Hmm… Can’t find that one on the CDC website!) We are typically gregarious people who make friends easily, except when we’re clearly sending off the stink-eye inducing glare that says “Leave me alone!”
There’s no question that the events of the past week have influenced me to go out on a limb and publish this post, but I suspect that other people out there are wondering how naturists are dealing with this bothersome mask thing – let alone keeping distance during a rousing water volleyball game – and how that works, exactly, for those who want to be naked all over.
Despite the musings of the Wall Street Journal author who tried to capture this a couple months ago, it seems this is not so much about nudity, but maybe a lot about regional ideals and the social constructs of anyplace humans gather to socialize. In fact, therein lies the irony to all of this. Can you practice “social nudity” and “social distancing” at the same time? I gave that topic a shot back in early summer, but a lot of water has gone under the bridge since then. I may need to update that post another four or five weeks from now.
Some images in this post were found by searching the internet for “social nudity.” If you find an image that needs attribution or should be removed, please let me know and I’ll do so at once. None of those, to my knowledge, were taken since the outbreak of COVID-19