My psyche stripped naked to the core and my closet down to the barebones, was it such a stretch that we stay at a nudist RV park? Although as a psychiatrist Tim is very much in tune with unconscious drives, hidden meanings, and deep-seated motivations, he is also a typical guy. And typical guys want to go to nudist resorts. Not being any type of a guy myself, I had always informed him I would never, ever, EVER, not in a million . . . Oh, what’s the use? By now I had clearly lost any semblance of free will. I was, after all, living in a bus for a year. I didn’t stand a chance. Not that I was nonchalant about this, mind you; I’d started Atkins in anticipation – just in case – as soon as we left New Orleans. I need not have bothered, for as I discovered, nudists are incredibly low-key. Unless, that is, you’re trying to get into one of their parks. Then they can be just as big a pain in the ass as any prudes.
As we neared California, I checked around on the Internet. One place seemed particularly promising, so I called and asked if they were, indeed, clothing optional.
"No," the lady unequivocally answered.
"Oh. I’m sorry. I must have the wrong information," I apologized, hoping she didn't think me some weirdo. But something in her voice made me query further.
"So . . . people don’t walk around naked?" I tried to confirm.
"Oh, yes, they do," she answered. Is this place English optional, or what?
"Okay . . . but you’re not clothing optional." I offered slowly, with impeccable pronunciation.
"No, we’re nudist," she snapped. Well, excuuuuse, me.
"I’m not sure I know the difference," I conceded. She explained that when inside the park, one is required to be naked. Now I got it. It was the optional, not the clothing, that was the problem with the whole clothing optional thing. Who knew? I proceeded with what I thought was a perfectly reasonable follow-up question.
"Can I wear shoes?" She guffawed, muzzled the phone, and called out to some other nuditity-requiring linguiphile, "She wants to know if she can wear shoes!" For those as clueless as I, the answer is yes. I decided she could keep her shod-optional accommodations and found a different park.
When we pulled into Olive Dell Ranch Nudist Resort near San Bernadino, I faced yet another dilemma: Usually, I headed to the office to check in while Tim stayed with the bus. Should I take my clothes off now? What if, in a variation on the universal nightmare, this was some God-awful joke and everyone was clothed but me? I was wearing earrings. Do I take them off, too? A valid question, methinks, even after the shoe debacle. I could have called on my cell phone and asked, but it seemed a mite like the shoes question and I didn’t feel like being laughed at again just yet, especially as I was anticipating that reaction as soon as I stepped off the bus, anyway.
I kept my clothes on. The woman in the office had not. (If ever I can’t work at home anymore, this could very well be my dream job, for even though I’d have to leave the house, I still wouldn’t have to get dressed.) She told us where to park and that the owner would come by to show us around.
The campground itself is at the end of a long, winding road set on 140 acres up against a tree-studded hill with views of the surrounding countryside and valley. There are about two hundred members, half of whom are permanent residents, the rest weekenders with about another fifty to a hundred visitors like us, just passing through at various points in the summer to stay in the handful of cabins and RV spaces. After we parked, we saw the owner approach. He was in his forties and nude, but wore an open work shirt against the sun (and sneakers, I was pleased to note). We quickly donned (or rather, undonned) similar gear and met him outside.
I soon discovered that none of my concerns mattered. In a nudist park, everything is stripped down, so to speak. As Tim observed, there’s no macho, no pretense, no posturing. Your balls (and whether or not you have any) are out there for everyone to see. (Especially, as we would later discover, when partaking of naked karaoke.)
That first day, we hung out at the pool, relaxed, read, and met some of the locals. (No murmurs of "your rig or mine" to be heard.) As was my custom, if I got a call to do a review, I did it. I had already blogged about being in the nudist park, so after Alison and I finished discussing a case, she asked in a whisper, "Are you talking to me while you’re naked?"
"Nope. I’m naked. Tim’s naked. Bill, Sue, and Cameron are naked . . ."
In Boulder, I used to get a kick out of the fact that the doctors I reviewed probably assumed I was wearing a business suit in an office somewhere, instead of at home in my pajamas with a cat on my lap. (And, in fact, if Morty was in one of his talkative moods, I usually explained it away with, "Someone brought her baby into work.") Olive Dell Ranch brought that titillation to a whole new level.
Our first night, Tim started closing all the curtains in the bus. I wondered why – we’d been nude all day, anyway. He explained he was about to start cooking and for his own safety needed to put on clothes; he didn’t want to offend anybody.
We both had to dress, of course, to leave for our day trips to Joshua Tree National Park and Palm Springs. And each time during our weeklong stay, we did so reluctantly. This nudist resort was the friendliest RV park we’d ever stayed in. (It was also quite cheap, although we easily made that up in sunscreen.) Established in 1952, it has been owned and operated by two generations of the same family and the atmosphere was completely laid-back. The married owners, Bobby and Becky, grew up there in nudist families and now raise their own children in the park. Bobby, who is also the cook (working in the kitchen clad only in an apron), gave me his recipe for the best tuna salad I’ve ever tasted. Like every place on the planet, this one also has its eccentrics, including the woman who explained why she couldn’t stop to chat saying, "I have to catch my breath. I just had brisket." But our favorite had to be the maintenance guy who walks around nude except for his tool belt. An interesting effect, for every time he turned around, I nearly exclaimed, "Hey! You dropped your . . ." Oops.