I go to a nude beach with my boyfriend. Think what you will; I like having God gaze down upon my bare ass as I watch the waves roll in. I know He has a wide prudish streak, but if dropping my bathing suit for a day is out-of-bounds, then hell is overrun with pygmies.
I find that unlikely.
My boyfriend and I are settled near a lifeguard stand. It’s a gorgeous, clear day; throngs of people pack the beach. Mid-afternoon I go for a swim, leaving my boyfriend with his book. I frolic, seal-like, floating on my back and catching the tail end of waves. Forty-five minutes later I walk back onto land and head for our towels. When I get to the lifeguard stand, I scan the area for my boyfriend.
If you’ve ever looked for someone on a congested beach, you know the stomach lurch accompanying the realization that they may be forever lost to you. On the nude beach, the panic is doubled, as there are no identifying bathing suits to aid in your quest. I know we were behind a lifeguard stand. I must be in the right place. Unless. . .
Unless I’m at the wrong stand.
I trudge off toward the next lifeguard stand — which, measured in beach-walking distance, is seven miles away. The sand scorches my feet; my gait takes on a pained, hopping bounce most unflattering to my breasts. I move toward the water and take up my journey, continuing to scan for my boyfriend. This is also a trial: As I move farther from the beach, my eyes strain, distracting me from sucking in my stomach. When I try to do both, my diaphragm goes into spasm.
When I come to the next lifeguard stand, I cut up onto the beach. I peer in every direction. No boyfriend. I wonder if I could somehow be looking past him. I hope not; I like to think I’d recognize his face, if not his penis.
Dismayed, I head back to my starting point. Judging by the amused sympathy in people’s eyes, I look every bit as bewildered as I am. (Looking lost dressed is one thing. Looking lost naked is entirely another.) Asking to use someone’s cell phone won’t help, either. Despite my memory for numbers, I find my boyfriend’s impossible to remember.
Under this kind of pressure, I’m guaranteed to choke.
There’s nothing to do but keep moving.
I begin to wish I’d brought a canteen. Shows on the Discovery Channel, like “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” and “Survivor Man” come to mind. I reflect on the man who, hiking in a remote area, got pinned under a rock and freed himself by sawing off his arm with a Swiss army knife. I become aware that my ass starting to burn.
If my own situation doesn’t improve, God knows what measures I’ll be forced to take.
“Excuse me,” I hear a woman say. “Are you lost?”
There’s no question she’s talking to me. “Yes!” I cry, sounding like I’ve spent fifty-eight days on a life raft without food or water. “I am!”
“Your towel is next to mine,” she says, pointing down the beach. “Down that way.”
“Really?” I ask.
“Yes,” she says, smiling, and waves me along.
I follow gratefully as she leads me back to safety.