There’s a beach on the California coast, somewhere in the Central Valley, I think? Does that even make sense? I don’t know, I was out there for a week-long trip and didn’t do any of the navigating, so I never really knew where we were. Plus I was drinking. But the exact location doesn’t really matter for the story.
We were at this beach. In California. And man, let me tell you, it was gorgeous. I grew up with Lake Michigan beaches, and as impressive as those are, they’re not quite as big as beaches on the ocean. People who first see our beach in Michigan are always surprised at how big it is, at the fact that you can’t see across the lake, that the sand is so much finer than ocean sand, that the waves are actually big – but still, nothing like a Pacific Ocean beach.
They’re just so much bigger. The waves break over a long gradual slope of a hundred feet instead of twenty. The waves are eight feet instead of four.
We lay back on the fluffed brown sand in our sunglasses and sucked on Bud Lights, and that’s when I noticed the woman without a shirt on.
I was surprised, naturally, to see a woman topless on the beach, which one of my friends had described as “semi-private” – I don’t know what that means, but I was doubly surprised because most nudists you’ll run across are sixty, sweaty, and swinging. This woman was none of the above.
She looked young thirties, but I suppose she could have been pulling off a lithe forty. She was lying on a towel on her back, with her knees up and her head up, propping her elbows on the ground behind her for support. She was only about thirty feet down the beach to our right, sitting with another woman who was wearing a full two-piece swimsuit. This girl wasn’t. Black bikini bottom – and that’s it.
Quite honestly, none of us made too much of it.
“Oh, I didn’t know this was a nude beach.”
“Yeah, I don’t think it is.”
“Hey, pass me another beer.”
End of conversation. We went back to drinking, minimal talking, and watching the waves beat the beach.
But then the guy happened.
This guy was probably fifty, but he could have been forties. He wasn’t in bad shape, but he had some kind of pot-belly working, and I think it must have been a new development, because he’d definitely gotten his swimsuit before he packed on the pounds. It was snug, a little blue and white number that left most of his thighs breathing free and the seams might have split if he started doing lunges.
But he wasn’t doing lunges. He was walking over to the woman purposefully, his hair-covered gut preceding him like the advance guard in a royal fat parade. The man shuffled up, careful not to kick sand onto her towel, pushed his sunglasses onto his head and began, “could you please put a… you know… put a shirt on?”
“I’m not trying to bother anyone,” the woman said. My ears perked up immediately. This could be good.
“Well, some of us would just like to enjoy the beach and not have this… immodesty going on.”
And this is when the exchange got so outrageous I literally could not believe it.
The woman shifts position a little, looking as cocky as you can when you’re lying on the ground talking to someone standing over you, and says, “it’s just my body.”
The guy is not about to take shit. “Yeah,” he says, “and it’s just my erection.”
I was amazed that the woman could even respond, but who knows, maybe she gets this all the time. “You don’t have to look at me, you know,” she says.
“Yeah, but when I look somewhere else, I still imagine them. And they’re even bigger in my imagination.”
I was stunned. I couldn’t even laugh, I was so shocked. My mouth fell open and a little beer dribbled out.
But he topped himself. “And what if…” he stumbled. “What if in my imagination, you don’t have pants on?”
The woman was confused and ready to acquiesce. But she had one last rejoinder: “even if I put a top on, you’ll still have your imagination.”
“I hope so,” he said, and it was a withering blow. The woman was overwhelmed, defeated. She grabbed a matching black top and threw it over her neck, then hurried to tie it behind her back.
I couldn’t blame her. At that point, the guy’s next move could have been to ask her to put suntan lotion on her back or strip off his swimsuit, plop down on the towel and say, “scooch over, will ya? And then tell me a little about yourself.”
But he didn’t. Instead he shuffled back in the direction he’d come from, farther up the beach. The women picked up and left about ten minutes later, possibly because they heard us snorting with uncontrollable laughter.
That was the only time I’ve ever seen someone naked-ish at the beach, but I have no desire to do it again. I can’t imagine ever topping that.