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In the sauna an aging accountant is giving advice to two young women on how to become members of a particular nudist resort. Earlier he was complaining about problems at his resort because a few of the gay members had recently come out of the closet. A woman is throwing up outside the steam room and is being led around by her companion. Another man is apologizing for some drunken groping he did at the last pool party. I'm looking through some of the photo albums being passed around (a nude cruise, a nude wedding -- Unitarian priest nude wearing only a collar). A group of women play volleyball; the faux-aerobics instructor now, somehow, wearing only one stocking. Always a damn stocking.

Three hours later and you grow tired of seeing so much flesh, almost like listening to hours and hours of confessionals. I'm questioning the idea of something as flimsy as nudity uniting people, being substantial enough to be a collective pursuit, even a form of recreation.

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After the party a group of men go out to a strip club(! right?). One man, swinging in Rod Stewart style, leaves the spa with his arms around two young women. I join about thirty other nudists at a diner, as they push tables together, make loud jokes about this one or the others wandering hands, hassle the waiters ("Is this a clothing optional diner?"). The man on my left looks past me, only interested in talking to my companion. We stay for hours, the combination of comradery, loneliness, banality, feigned self-deprecation ("Now you can get to see how us nudist freaks eat"), of forcing oneself to be so secure that you go too far beyond self-consciousness, calls to mind the attitude of AA fellowships, combined with one part singles club, one part softball league.

On the car ride home John, who lives alone and is hoping to meet a nice lady who's into the nudist lifestyle, criticizes me for leaving my companion alone at the spa. If she were his girlfriend, he sure wouldn't treat her like that. Bob says he loves women and tells war stories from his swinging days. Peter is looking forward to upcoming pot-luck dinners and summer canudeing trips. Phil says he once told the guys at work he was a nudist and "they ragged me about it, they had a good laugh." Now he mostly keeps it to himself. The four of them never socialize outside of nudist events.

I got home and went to sleep fully dressed.



*Some of the names have been changed to protect privacy.