It was my first college Summer I was staying in the area. Normally, I would have ventured the four hour drive home to my parents’ house and sweltered in heat, humidity, and gnats, but this year, I was staying put. Staying put also meant I needed to find a Summer job.
Not all stories in Nudist Group Hug are about naked bodies. I worked in a restaurant, and all of us were fully clothed. Our merry band of restaurant workers dwindled down to three right at the start of the season. Serving started Friday night for dinner, all three meals for Saturday, and all three meals for Sunday. Thursday was cleaning day and prep day for the kitchen for the weekend service. I was still learning the ropes of working in a kitchen and in a dining room, and I am grateful I had a memory like a steel trap because I wouldn’t have been able to care for twenty-nine tables on my own.
But I will never forget an incident with ice water.
Patrons to the restaurant were permitted to remain nude. They had rules to bring towels into the restaurant to put on the chairs while they ate, and when they left, the chairs were wiped down with cleaners. One couple came in for breakfast one day. They were a friendly couple, asking me about my school and what I was studying. Each weekend the resort hosted a theme. This weekend’s theme was Margaritaville, and the woman’s husband had used body paint and painted beautiful macaws on his wife’s chest and torso. We talked about art while I was serving their meal, and I complimented him on his skill. With a smile to his wife, he responded, “I had a beautiful canvas.” The next time I returned to them, I refilled their beverages, and just as I was putting the woman’s glass down, my tray tipped, and down came a pitcher filled with ice water (minus one glass) all over the woman. I.was.MORTIFIED. I grabbed some napkins, and I started scooping up ice cubes that had fallen off the woman and on the floor. here were ice cubes in places that my first instinct was to grab at them, but my brain kicked in and said, “that’s considered sexual battery in some places,” and I was at a loss of what else to do other than continue to apologize profusely. I was in a panic – surely this is how servers get fired, right? I am so Type A that I was falling over myself trying to help. That’s when the husband laughed. The wife smiled and laughed. And they both said, “it could have been worse. I could have been wearing clothes.” After proceeding to tell me how their son worked his way through college at an Italian restaurant and spilling a glass of red wine on a woman’s WHITE designer blouse, I didn’t feel nearly as bad. They shrugged it off, welcomed me to the resort, and left me a friendly note with my tip. To this day, when I see a pitcher of ice water, a woman’s naked body and painted macaws still flash to my mind.
This brings up another topic of discussion: food physics. I’m not talking about food chemistry like ice becomes water becomes vapor type of stuff or sugar heated caramelizes. I’m talking about how food MOVES.
I’m a klutz. That’s a given. I have worn many pieces of food. I also have large boobs: my shelf so when food falls, it stops and stains on my boobs. It happens. But something else that happens is the cloth of my clothing that covers my boobs acts as friction to stop food from moving. It plops, and it stops. Dry, wet, it doesn’t matter. It plops, and it stops.
Consider skin. Consider skin doused in tanning oil and/or sweat. We now have a lubricant on a soft surface free from cloth friction.
And this is where food physics happens.
When the nude guests came to dine in the restaurant, it was also a test for servers to learn how to pretend not to pay attention or see something that happened. The chef created a dish that was scallops and shrimp and pasta with a citrusy cream sauce. It was one of the most popular dishes at the resort. When we think of it in terms of food physics, we have two seafood items that have bounce, and we have a cream sauce that is a viscous liquid. Add those two items together with skin covered in lubricants of either tanning oil or sweat, and you’re asking for A LOT of movement if you drop food.
And then it happened.
Down went a scallop.
And, as true with physics, when something falls, it doesn’t stop until it hits something, and it usually stops when it has reached the lowest point of its fall. Please take some time to consider where that location is on a seated, naked body. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
The second part of food physics is the intricate moves that were also supposed to be discreet. (They weren’t.) The ever so sly dropping-of-the-napkin-hand-in-crotch-to-retrieve-scallop move was the most popular for this dish. Other famous moves were the make-a-joke-about-ranch-dressing-on-my-tit and it-also-needed-mustard-and-relish comments. My favorites were the oh-shit-I-dropped-food-oh-wait-I’m-naked–SCORE moments.
Being a klutz, I wondered if being naked was more appropriate for my meals.
I started my first shift at the resort’s restaurant, donned in a t-shirt emblazoned with its logo, and I wanted for the dinner rush. It was a Friday night: the first night the restaurant was open for the weekend, and we waited. I spent much of my night cleaning tables, making sure everything was just right, and chatting with the restaurant manager about various tidbits. We exchanged common topics: where are you from, what do you do, where do you live, is this your first time at a nudist resort, etc. My first night was hardly memorable except for the guest who placed a to-go order for $22, handed me a $100, and told me to “keep the change” and “welcome to [the resort.]”
Like any other locale in which persons come together, there are groups that form. I would say “cliques,” but that term often connotates negativity, and not all of the groups (majority of them) were “cliquey” or rude or negative in any way. Now, while you’re reading this, and you’re waiting for me to get into x-rated details about various body parts and hoping for some juicy details, let’s talk about boobs.
That’s right. I said, “boobs.” I’m talking breasts on the female anatomy – upper body extremities as I like to call them. Without diving into a conversation about gender, sex, etc. we’ll just say that for many women boobs, whether small or large, is what many women used to define themselves as the move from childhood to adulthood. We don’t even need to have children to watch sitcoms about training bras, boobs, yadda yadda yadda. But what happens when those are taken away?
And that…is the topic for Group 1: the breast cancer survivors.
First-timers to nudist resorts generally started out shy, but within a few hours (or minutes), they were comfortable with where they were and who they were, and they shed their clothes and their shyness. Young, young-at-heart, pale, tan, athletic, larger, men, women, all. There was one group that contained members that took a little longer to shed their clothes and burst forth with a smile and new-found friendships. These were women who were breast cancer survivors and had also had a single or double mastectomy. For decades women were taught that breasts/boobs are women – “welcome to adulthood, here’s your over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder.” What does it mean, then, when cancer takes that body part from you? Are you less of a woman? Of course, you’re not less of a woman. You’re a fighter who flipped a big ole “fuck you” finger at cancer, and you beat it. But that doesn’t mean if you had a mastectomy that you are 100% confident with the new, physical you, and you surely don’t know what to expect removing even your shirt at a nudist resort.
Identifying breast cancer survivors who underwent a mastectomy/mastectomies became easier, and I don’t say that in terms of using it as a game. It became more of a “oh, wait and see. I’m so excited for you” because they had no idea what was going to happen. And so we meet “Beth.” “Beth” came to the resort by herself. Beth was in her early 40s and had a single mastectomy. She wore a long, denim shirt and a hat. Because this was more of a clothing optional resort rather than an all-out nudist resort, clothing was permitted for walking around, etc. And Beth was shy. She was very quiet at Saturday breakfast, and she kept to herself. She was a first-timer and didn’t know what to expect, and at the time, I didn’t know she was a survivor.
The next time I saw Beth after breakfast, she was being approached by Group 1 in all their glory: four women of various shapes and sizes with one thing in common: they were all breast cancer survivors, and they all had undergone a single or double mastectomy. They approached Beth because some how word had spread that Beth was a cancer survivor and had a single mastectomy. Group 1 approached Beth with all the love and fervor that any human can muster and immediately introduced themselves, proudly displaying bare chests (bare everything) and huge smiles. They quickly went over their stats: “single, 1998,” “double, 1994,” “single, 2000.” They discussed other details. These were not the type of stats most people would expect to share with a total stranger or at a resort of this type, but there they were. And then it happened.
And Group 1 embraced her and comforted her. They spoke softly to her until one of them handed Beth a plastic cup, words were spoken, there was a “Hell yeah!” and a thudding of plastic cups against one another, and Beth was now a member of Group 1.
The next time I saw Beth it was lunchtime. She wore a hat, and her denim shirt was replaced with relief and a huge smile.
Beth became a regular, and she joined Group 1 in welcoming new members throughout the season.
The nudist resort was something of a legend in the area. Teens and college students alike spoke of it like an urban legend. I can even remember loading into an old Cavalier with friends and driving to look for it. We imagined we would see naked people frolicking right there by the road.
The unassuming barely two-lane road contained scattered homes and farmland. Clearly this “resort” was just an urban legend like a “haunted house” or something of the sort. But we kept driving. A friend darted her hand out the window and hollered, “there it is!” It was just a simple drive and wooden gate.
Who knows what we were afraid of, but a friend shouted, “drive faster!” And off we went…giggling all the way.
I still remember the phone call I had with my parents after I called the job posting. I called up my parents, making sure both of them were on the line, “I got a Summer job.” My mom was happy as was my dad with his trademark response of, “good!” My mom asked if I was going to be tutoring – no. Working in an office? not exactly. I told them I was going to work at a restaurant at which point my dad burst into a guffaw of laughter, knowing how clumsy I was (am.) And then I told them…
“It’s at a nudist resort.”
This is an additional placeholder post. Click the Edit link to modify or delete it, or start a new post.