Brad Stevens : Austin, TX

FEELING ALIVE
... a short story about an experience at Hippie Hollow, a clothing optional beach

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I don't know what I was expecting. I guess I was wondering if there were going be a lot of 'swinger-type' people there. Ya know the type ... bad toupees and gold chains displayed on a bed of thick chest hair. Ick! Thank God there was none of that, I thought as I called myself half-witted for stereotyping an environment before I checked it out for myself.

I spread out a blanket on a rocky shelf and didn't pay no mind to anyone as I proceeded to disrobe. Gee, this feels nice, I thought, I wonder why some people are so uptight about these type of beaches. Hmmm, suddenly I was a proponent of making them all clothing optional.

I cracked open a cold one, still feeling good that I had planned ahead and settled in, pen and pad in hand, to write my monthly column. But, somehow the words just wouldn't come. I put the writing device down and glanced around at my surroundings, which turned out to be entertaining indeed.

There was a steady stream of boats motoring by; slowly of course ... the crews taking in every naked body they could possibly absorb. My eyes went from the water to land. There were all shapes and sizes ... big ones, small ones, old ones, young ones. It's people I'm talking about; although I guess one could use the same adjectives for the body parts that usually aren't exposed to everyone and their ... um, well, everyone.

I was surprised to see how many women there were in the gay section of the park. Straight women, that is. That question was soon answered after I struck up a conversation with Beth and her boyfriend, Brett, who were sitting a few feet away from me. They told me that they came down to the gay part of the beach to avoid the gawkers on the straight side. Makes sense, I thought. After all, for Beth this is a 'safe zone'. But, then I looked at Brett who I thought might feel uncomfortable. But, after a few minutes of pleasant conversation, it was obvious that he was very comfortable with his body and his sexuality. He couldn't give a crap what anybody thought or if people stared. I decided I liked my new friends.

To my left there were a few African American men laying out seemingly attempting to deepen their tans. Why? I thought, Seems rather redundant. Oh well ... the very fact of the sun beating down on ones skin does make one feel full of life. If I was them, I'd be doing the very same.

Derrick, a guy sitting on a ledge above me, joined in our conversation. He looked like a model directly out of Gentlemen's Quarterly, except for that nasty scar on his lower abdomen that bared the remnants of a past surgery. Derrick pointed out a man coming around the bend, wearing nothing but a pair of tennis shoes and a white cowboy hat. He chastised the man for wearing the white hat. After all, white cowboy hats should only be worn after Easter; he should be wearing a black one! Only in Texas, I thought as I donned the only thing I had on ... a grin.

I was still smiling when a 'cottontail' strolled by and settled in about 50 yards away. My new friends sitting around me told me that new people to the park are identified as cottontails ... not because they have a cute fluffy tail, but because they have a white ass, not yet tanned from the Texas sun. Hmmm, I thought as I realized I had been identified as one of the same upon my arrival an hour earlier. Just call me Peter Rabbit I exclaimed, which resonated a healthy laugh of those sitting around me.

The sun was becoming more intense as the minutes turned to hours. Fours hours of direct Texas sun is about all anyone can stand. Skin pink with the days intense sun, I picked up my pen again and I began to write. But, I didn't write my column. I wrote about my experience.

Funny ... it wasn't anything like I thought it was going to be. When the designer clothes come off and one's skin is exposed to all, there is nothing left to hide behind. Clothes tend to cover our imperfections. And, let's face it; we all have imperfections with our bodies. Without them, even more of our imperfections were evident to the world. There were no pretenses ... how could there be? It was a feeling I found to be invigorating.

Today, I learned that clothes tend to cover up more than just our bodies. The content of the conversations were more genuine ... more of 'here it is and this is me'. Yes, it was just me and the people around me, naked in more ways than one.

I feel good. I not only feel good ... I feel alive.


LAST UPDATED: NOVEMBER 8, 2003

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Copyright 2000 BRAD STEVENS all rights reserved worldwide
Austin, Texas