Thursday, August 4, 2016

Free As The Breeze


The Soviet Premier Khrushchev famously declared in 1956 that the USSR would bury American Imperialism.

Actually he said, "Whether you like it or not, history is on our side.", but the Western press liked 'we will bury you' better.

After his election in 1960 President Kennedy was upset by the USSR thinking America was soft and JFK called the American people to improve their health and fitness. His primary challenge was the 50-mile hike. The Marines could accomplish the feat in 20 hours. In February 1963 JFK and his brother walked the distance in the winter.

That following summer at Boy Scout camp in New Hampshire my older brother and I joined a troop of hikers on a 100 mile hike through the forests of the White Mountains. Our scout leaders drove the phalanx of 12-13 year-olds to finish the daily 20-mile stages. We ran out of food on the second day and pillaged a cornfield for dinner. The 3rd day was a tortuous trudge on a path surrounded by miles of chopped tress. The sun was relentless and the leaders promised us a good swim at the end of the trail.

"Big Man Pond."

"Food and water."

We tramped with the food as first word for the right foot and water for our left.

Food and water built a mirage of Big Man Pond. The crystal clear lake was 30 miles across from shore to shore. Hot dogs and hamburgers were cooking on a BBQ with ice cream sodas to chase them down and a girls' camp was next to our camp site.

The reality came as a shock.

Big Man Pond was barely 300 feet in length. One of the boys from South Boston threw a rock across it. The troop leader yelled at us.

"Stop your complaining, This pond is spring-fed. That's our water. The food will be here later. We've marched 60 miles in 3 days. It's time for a swim. You've earned it. Everyone strip off your clothes."

He led the way and was buck-naked with seconds. We joined him without protest.

"Everyone in formation. Now one quick jog around the pond and then in the water."

We followed the troop leader. Our penises bounced up and down. At the starting point he stopped and pointed to the pond.

"Into the water."

We were robots to his command.

It was the first time that I went skinny-dipping, but not the last.

Since that day I have swam naked on Cape Cod, at Watchic Pond, Riis Park in New York, and Black Beach in San Diego.

Nudity was frowned upon by most Americans.

Our Puritan roots deny the freedom of prurient behavior, for to my ancestors a body without clothing was too vulnerable to attack, however the Germans and Scandinavians have a long history of sun-worshipping due to their pagan history.

In 1982 I visited Sylt north of Hamburg. The beach was a center for FKK or Freikoerperkultur 'free body culture'. I stripped off my clothes and to allow the four elements of wind, earth, sun, and water to embrace my flesh. The other bathers bronzed their bodies like gods and goddesses. My friends and I were young. That day we felt immortal.

30 years later sunbathing au natural has fallen out of vogue according to the German FKK association. There are less Germans and more foreigners, who disapprove of the old tradition, plus the Germans of the 80s are in their 50s and 60s.

Our divinity has been devastated by our age. I no longer look at my reflection in the mirror. I prefer looking at my shadow, but last year I quit my job on 47th Street to regain my girlish figure. For the past three days I've been out on the basketball court shooting hoops. I walked around my apartment in the nude. One day and one day soon I'm going to check the mirror and see the shadow of that young man basking in the dying light of a North Sea sunset and say, "Naked as a jaybird."

The same way I came into this life.

Sylt, I'm coming your way.

Achtung, achtung.

The naked man cometh.

Nobody is burying me other than in the sand.

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