There might be creepers at the nude beach on the Jersey Shore, but I never noticed. I was too busy breathing the air with sensitive nipples that never met sunlight. Since my development into womanhood, my breasts were taught they were evil, a beckoning symbol for idleness or promiscuity. The wind tells them it is not true and loves them tenderly.
An hour passes, and the newly unfettered organs comfortably subdue to nature’s new affection. I look to the people around me and everyone is smiling. This is the beach.
Men lay comfortably sunbathing erect, and the women reveal their female parts strolling glamorously with large hats to protect their noses. Shaggy-haired twenty-somethings share beers huddled on their knees, debating in naked circles. The prematurely wrinkled middle-aged couples laugh together with hoarse voices and greasy hair under their tents with bumper stickers that read I’d Rather Be Naked. The inked-thighs on the hipster couple splash into the cold sea. The occasional mother you would otherwise mistake from suburbia leads her toddler by hand, both of them unclothed, as a man trails behind them on business call, wearing less than appropriate office attire.
The nude beach is a microcosm of the world. As diverse as Old Navy commercials in the late spring. I hear French, Spanish, some New Joysey accents. I place my towel next to a greying man of Indian descent. A black woman in her thirties, with an intricate weave, skips topless towards her friends.
I witness an older Southeast Asian woman in a palm-leave conical hat and long sleeves with her husband where the water meets the wet sand. A couple with titanic abs sprint past the flat asses and beer bellies on this sunny weekend day.
Bush, stubble, and the smooth coexist next to cloaked parts, all exposed to the same sunrays. The rules lie in respect, not uniformity.
So I sit half the time with her and them exposed, and then cover when a feather flies to tickle my butt.
But won’t it burn you around there? My friends asked earlier that day. I’m not sure, I told them. I decide to arrive at the beach after five to avoid the issue and a sunscreening performance for my new community.
When the time comes, I reluctantly reclothe and walk a mile back to the car. Should I return with friends next week, including those who never saw me naked and those that haven’t since prepubescent years?
When I get in the car, I call my mom. I tell her the nude beach isn’t a sexy experience, and that naturalists don’t compare body creases, grooves, or cellulite. That I like being naked on the beach, and would like to naked more often. I can’t tell if she is surprised.