Our 13th year anniversary trip was in the works. We love traveling to Spanish-speaking countries, but for a short, quick weekend, Miami was practically like going abroad. But, Jack threw me a curve ball. He told me about a clothing optional beach nearby that we could visit. My stomach lurched… What on Earth was he thinking??!! I know 13 years can wear on a relationship, but I couldn’t believe he was at THAT point. After three kids, my boobs were tiny, but still managed to sag… the worst of both worlds. I was not your ideal centerfold. I was a little more like Olive Oyl from the Popeye cartoons. So, I thought he was absolutely crazy and probably headed into a mid-life crisis. There was no way this could be good for our relationship. Sitting on a beach, staring at other men and women’s bodies, in MIAMI, capital of beach parties and sex appeal. I would be hiding, buried in sand until it was time to go.
We talked about the idea a few times, each time with Jack urging me that ‘we only live once’, if I ‘don’t like it, we can leave’, etc. I resigned myself to do it for him and to let him get it out of his system. We flew to Miami and enjoyed cocktails, lots of food, massages and some nightlife. Then…. Saturday came. The plan was to pack lunch and take a cab to the beach. The feeling of dread hung over me. What did I get myself into? I should have flatly refused. I should have been a strong woman and put my foot down.
The cab dropped us off at the opposite end of the beach so we started to walk… and walk… and walk down a paved hike and bike trail. We stopped at a park with some shabby bathrooms and curious people and ate our lunch. I was getting the feeling that we were on the wrong side of the tracks.
Jack googled the info for the “clothing optional” beach entrance. It turned out we were almost there, so I had to buck up and prepare myself. After walking a few more minutes, we saw the sign.
“CAUTION: Beyond this point you may encounter nude bathers.”
How on God’s green Earth were we supposed to walk through the entrance while people were jogging and roller blading past? They would see us! What would they think?! We were such perverts… I couldn’t believe we were about to do this!
We walked through the shaded greenbelt protecting the beach and came through to the other side. Welcome to God’s flesh-toned Earth. Some were lounging and relaxing in the sun, some were swimming, some were walking the beach. But, I could not get over this one man, in his sixties, with a big gold chain, talking with a booming Yankee accent to his buddy. Just standing there, letting it all hang out and having a loud conversation for everyone to hear. And, he wasn’t facing the water, but facing the audience. This guy was obviously comfortable. Several other men were coming up and shaking hands, patting backs and acting like they were at the church picnic.
I quickly shed my clothes so I could fit in and sat down. Jack looked over at me, shocked that I was already nude. Then, the most unusual thing happened. I felt OKAY. I felt pretty normal. There were no rock-hard, surgically enhanced bodies to body shame me. Everyone seemed to be average people, some older, some younger, some around our age. We quickly fixed a drink and settled in to bask in the natural glow and get rid of our obvious tan lines.
After a few drinks, Jack asked if I wanted to take a walk. That was definitely a way to get me out of my comfort zone by parading my booty up and down the beach. We passed a few nude couples and then two fully clothed men. I had a sensation of rage… what were they doing here? Just walking through to stare at all of us? Woah… I was one of the ‘us’? I had crossed over to the dark side.
There we were. Standing on the wooden bridge about to walk through the shrubs. A little nervous, a little excited. All of the questions we had and prejudices we had about getting naked in front of a bunch of people were all about to be confronted and, hopefully, answered. What are we doing? Is this stupid? Is this trashy? Is this creepy? Too late now. Let’s do it!
We are just two southerners who have a little land, a few kids and go to church on Sunday. Our values are very traditional and believe in raising our kids according to the Christian faith. We weren’t looking to do anything sinful or jeopardize our marriage. We were curious. Before Haulover I kept telling myself that it was so stupid for people to wear bathing suits to enjoy the warm summer sun. After all, God gifted us all a unique body. But, basically, every 2nd person is the same. God also gifted us beautiful days. Why not enjoy it as it was intended? God gave us beautiful people. Why are we telling them they are not?
As we walked through the shrubs, the view opened up and there it was, the first glimpse of the vast, legendary, nude beach known as Haulover. “Oh shit, look at all the naked people!”, I then noticed, surprisingly, from my gold rimmed dark bomber sunglasses. I tried to keep my cool, but went into freak out mode. Are they looking at me looking at them? Where do I go? What do I do? Butts, boobs, dicks, vaginas everywhere. Head for the chairs and take a deep breath.
While traversing through the sand I get an odd feeling that all of these naked people are looking at us, staring at us with our t-shirts and shorts on. All of the sudden I feel like the odd ball. We landed on some chairs and an umbrella in the middle of the beach, which unknowing at the time is the best spot to be. You are surrounded with naked people on all sides).
As we put our stuff down, I’m nervous about taking my pants off. A million thoughts start running through my mind. Will I have a boner? Will I have half a boner? Will it look really small? Are women evaluating dick sizes? My bubble popped when I look over to find my wife stripped down completely naked and ready to take on the day. What?!! Way to go, honey! I was proud and quite astonished at how quickly she acclimated to our new environment.
I had to chill out. I was somewhat of a nervous wreck. Here I go!!! Time to drop the clothes. Then, “$35 sir!” What!? I look up and there’s a 20 something year old there with all his clothes on and sunglasses asking for money for the chairs. I fumble for my money. I start to get a little frustrated. Is he looking at my wife? Focus on me, punk, not her. I’m worried that my wife is going to be upset or embarrassed? I gave him some money and too much tip so he would leave.
Ok, NOW I’m ready.
We got naked and it was awesome! It was exciting, liberating and unexpectedly peaceful. I started to put sunblock on. Everything was starting to come in line until I realized I had to put sunblock on my man part. “Uh oh, how is this going to work?” I wondered. Should I stand here and rub it in front of everybody? If I did, would I get a boner? Should my wife do it? No, very bad idea. I would really get a boner, then. Should I hide and do it? No, then people would think I’m trying to get off? So, I did what anyone who’s ever been in a bind and seen it coming would do. I took it like a man. I stood up in front of everyone in all my glory and rubbed my sunblock in.
Still to this day this is the most awkward part of suntanning naked. I’ve applied it in front of other couples, in front of my wife and by myself. It’s still weird no matter how you rub it.
Once the initial anxiety wore off, which was about 15 minutes, we had the best day. We spent hours drinking Tequila, playing cards and swimming in the ocean. We even met a group of 3 other naked couples and spent hours talking and relaxing with them. This would not have happened on a textile beach.
It was everything it was supposed to be. My wife and I spent hours together talking and reconnecting. We laughed, we had serious conversations and we even theorized about which of our friends would join us next time. It was not sexually charged, even though my wife is so beautiful without her clothes on. The rooftop pool where women were wearing thongs and sporting their fake boobs that we visited the day before was way more sexually charged than a beach full of naked guys and girls.
I realized 2 things that day.
First, I realized this day that peoples’ imperfections are not that at all. They are only imperfections if you subside to the societal pressure of looking like a certain image or body type. From this perspective, nobody is perfect. That day I saw hundreds of men and women with their “imperfections”. God made us all unique. God made us all in his image. God made us the way he wanted for a reason. Be confident. Be proud of the way God made you. You are unique. You are you. You are beautiful.
Second, it’s a much kinder world in the buff. That’s reason enough to continue our peregrination.