Patchwork

So I did it: I bought a package of NicoDerm patches. I’m setting the 15th of this month as my start date. The only reason I picked the 15th is that it’s a non-event date for me and, this year, it falls on a unremarkable day: Wednesday.

I started a new ritual yesterday with one of The Bee Goddesses — the one who doesn’t read this blog because she doesn’t want to spend more time than she has to in front of a computer screen. Two or three times a week, weather permitting and for one hour each time, we walk. This B.G. kicked the weed more than a year ago, while the other started her attempt this past weekend.

I am also making a few other changes, namely eating better, drinking more fluids, and already denying (or pushing ahead) my automatic ciggies. This way I am hoping that the shock to my system won’t be as violent when I begin the patchwork.

Nothing But the Naked Truth, Part I

I am a fan of Spencer Tunick‘s work. And to me, the fact authorities assisted him in realizing an installation of his on-going project in Montreal in May 2001 partially explains why I love that city so much.

I don’t know if Poupoune remembers this, but…

…I was in Moncton on the weekend this event happened. We were at my parents’, and it was my mother, then 72, who asked us if we had “seen the naked people in Montreal on TV.” Turns out she was asking us not because she was disgusted, but because she thought it was wonderful! She went on about how participants spoke of it having been a “liberating” experience for them and applauded how “very ordinary-looking people” would have the guts (pardon the pun) to participate in such a project.

Now… Rewind to several summers before that. I was really, really tanned. She joked that I must have a very pronounced tanline, and I replied (in front of all the family) that I had none.

— You go to the beach naked?!”, her lip curling up with a smile.

— Yeah… It’s no big deal, really.”

— I guess not…” Then she pretended to reach for my shorts to pull them down (which she didn’t and wouldn’t really do), joking that she always wondered what the lack of a tanline looked like.

About my mother, Poupoune often says “Madame Michaud ROCKS!” And she does! (More about that in subsequent posts, I’m sure.) Yet she’s very much a devout French-Canadian Catholic; as such, she’s not 100 percent “anything goes.” Unmarried people do not sleep in the same bed in her home, even if they do so in their home. And I can’t count how many times I’ve heard my mother preface a sentence with “I don’t want to tell you how to live your life, but if it were mine …and I’m only speaking for myself, …” More important, however, even in her senior years, she is always prepared to consider ideas which, on the surface, are contrary to her morality. What passes as “received wisdom” is always open for debate, including the idea that one should always be clothed. But again I digress… :->}

Or am I? The point is that if someone of her generation is able to think of public nudity as NOT being an affront to morality, and NOT being a state that can only degenerate to hanky-panky, then why the heck can’t most North Americans do the same?

Fodder for Part II of this entry…

Nothing But the Naked Truth, Part II

Hard to believe, but in the summer of 1985, I was scrawny. Not hard to believe, but that same summer, I had auburn hair. And one glorious day in July, a friend introduced me to the joy of sunbathing nude.

From the parking lot of Crystal Crescent Beach, we walked for 35 minutes along a winding trail through the moors which leads to what’s simply referred to as “The Third Beach.” As soon as we found a spot on the sand, my friend put her towel down, peeled off all her clothes, and layed down “sunny side up.” It occurred to me at that moment that I had never before been within so few inches of such a sight.

Scrawny little me? I was too self-conscious (read “chickenshit”) and kept my shorts on. I’ll be frank with you, dear readers: I was afraid of either of two things.

  1. Upon air contact, something would rise to the occasion.
  2. Upon air contact, something would shrivel up so much that everyone, don’t you know, would notice and snicker.

Don’t kid yourselves. People do look while on a nude beach. However, after about 15 minutes or so, I realized that the glances were as disinterested as if they happen upon the waves lapping the shoreline. Or the sailboat out in the distance. Then a man and a woman in their early 20s walked by in front of us at the water’s edge, just minding their own business, and what stunning specimens they were! They furthered my resolve to keep my shorts on.

But that was the end of the parade of Beautiful People. For the next half hour, the people who walked by or were taking in the rays around us were resolutely unremarkable. They looked like sunbathers who …ooops! …forgot to put on a bathing suit. And then two men walked by, oblivious to their obesity. They were as comfortable as the Beautiful and the Ordinary. And after nearly an hour, no one — no one! — had had an “unfortunate incident” as I feared I might have.

Off came my shorts.

Nearly 18 years later, I am …well …let’s call it “full figured.” :->} Oh, okay… I’m chunky! But I still don’t own a bathing suit. And when I go to a “textile” beach, I feel like something is just …wrong!

Yet it’s not as though I have the best body image in the world. I know I look better dressed. But I’m too lazy to exercise, and I enjoy too much feeling the sun and wind all over my body on a warm, summer day. So I accept these facts along with the body I do (and don’t) have. I just don’t see any point in being ashamed of my birthday suit.

It’s nude. Not lewd.

Nothing But the Naked Truth, Part III

Having praised the joys of suntanning sans maillot at Crystal Crescent, I wouldn’t be true to the title of this entry if I omitted a few facts.

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Beyond the earlier-mentioned “Third Beach,” the trail continues along the rocky shore. It is a provincial nature trail. The clothing etiquette varies from year to year and one has to play it by ear. However, the safest bet is to keep shorts on when walking along the main trails. Clothing rebecomes optional when one stops at a reasonable distance from the trails, even if one is visible from said trails.

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One day late last summer, I got annoyed initially with a family of fully clothed hikers. First, they were loud. Second, one their way back from the far reaches of the main trail, they stopped for a break and I was in their full view some 100 feet away. But then I realized that even the little kids weren’t gawking at me. And it occurred to me this wasn’t a bad thing at all: The parents were normalizing the situation, possibly telling the kids, “Some people do that, and it doesn’t hurt anyone.” (Maybe they also told the kids, “We’ll kill you if we catch YOU doing the same thing,” but at least they weren’t disallowing me, whom they did not know.)

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There have been problems at Crystal Crescent, 2001 being the worst year in recent memory. Some residents in the nearby village of Sambro objected to the nude sunbathers, charging that some were in fact lewd and had made inappropriate advances. Through much of the summer, undercover RCMP officers randomly issued bans to anyone caught sunbathing nude, which decimated beach attendance by mid-August. But a judge recinded the bans and ruled that, after 20 years, Crystal Crescent was widely known to be a haven for nude sunbathers, and that was fine as long as there was no sexual contact among partakers.

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There are literally hundreds of nooks and crannies at Crystal Crescent — some on the rocks close to the shore, some in clearings in the nearby woods. All are out of sight to the hikers walking along the trails.

Does more than sunbathing occur in those nooks and crannies? The answer is yes. However, most who indulge in such “extra-curricular activities” also put a lot of effort in finding spots where there’s a reasonable expectation of privacy — for themselves and the hikers on the trails.

There are also deers, porcupines, and other wildlife in the woods of Crystal Crescent. Those who wander far off the beaten trail must assume that they might encounter anything. And I do mean anything.

So what!

I think even my mother would agree.