What’s been interesting about my current situation is that when my old friends have come to visit or have reached out to me via email, etc., they remember old life stories that I had forgotten about. My friend Dano came to visit a month or so ago and reminded me of something that happened when we were about 17 or so, and I can definitely say I was grateful for this fun experience that had completely slipped my mind. It’s nothing deeply meaningful in a cosmic sense, but I think it is funny and does once again demonstrate the WTF attitude I had once I hit puberty.
Dano was lucky enough to live in an awesome house right on Lake Michigan in our idyllic town of Mequon, Wisconsin. We used to have campfires on the beach and party there and in his boathouse all through high school and college. Where Dano lived though, the house was actually about a ¼ mile from the lake itself, and you had to climb up a wooded path through the lake bluff forest to get between his house and the beach. Dano liked to fish, and one summer day he had inflated his large rubber raft, dropped it on the beach, and returned up the wooded path to his house to get his fishing gear. That took about 15 minutes or so, and when he returned he was pleasantly surprised (I assume!) and certainly shocked to discover two completely nude girls about our age casually lounging in his raft which they had launched into Lake Michigan! Boring rural Wisconsin had somehow transformed itself into a sexually liberated place like the south of France (or at least Southern California—Hahaha!)
The girls invited him to join them in the raft, but they explained that the raft was now a “nudist raft” and that he would have to “drop trou” if he wanted to get on his own raft—Hahaha! Well, Dano is half Korean and comes from a very socially conservative family so he wasn’t about to do that, particularly in his own back yard! But being the good friend that he is to all his buds, he decided to hike up the bluff again to call his close friend Phil who only lived about 5 minutes away and tell him about the new status of his now “nudist raft.” Of course this was in the old days of hard wired home phones only, and when Phil didn’t answer the phone, Dano had the good sense and kind heart to call his good friend Eric (or “Crickey” as I was known back then) and offer him the opportunity of a lifetime (at least where we lived!) Fortunately for me, I was home and answered the phone on a Saturday afternoon that summer day.
What’s funny is that Dano didn’t tell me anything about what was really going on, but simply asked me what I was doing right now. I replied, “not much, what’s up with you?” or something similar, and he said: “You need to come over to my house RIGHT NOW.” I naturally wondered what the hell was going on and asked if everything was OK with him, and he said: “Oh, it’s more than OK—Just trust me on this and get your ass over here right now before it’s too late.” I’m sure I made another comment, but when he told me again to just “trust me on this one,” I hopped in my car and took the 15-minute drive over there. Dano wasn’t the kind of guy to BS you about anything, so I was game for whatever he thought was so important.
When I pulled into the driveway, Dano had this shit-eating grin on his face so I knew at least everything was OK in Danoville. Of course, I asked what was going on and he still refused to tell me, but said that all would be obvious once we got down to the lake. I must say I was rather intrigued but had absolutely no idea what to expect. When we finally got to the beach, the nude girls waved at us and asked us to join them on Dano’s “nudist raft.” I was beside myself with equal measures of surprise and excitement, and the first thought that went through my head was: “Are you freaking kidding me?!!” and the second was, “Oh, hell yeah!” I started taking off my clothes and was pretty much expecting Dano to do the same. I’m not sure if he expected me to be all in so quickly, but my mind was filled with possibilities, and I had to play this thing out. I’m sure it crossed my mind more than once that these two girls wanted to mess around with we two guys, etc. and that some kind of sex fest was indeed quite possible.
I asked Dano why he wasn’t getting naked to join the girls, and I think he said something about not wanting to have any of his family see him if they should wander down to the lake by chance. I certainly understood that, and tried to act as cool and nonchalant as possible to impress the very free-spirited girls at this point. I got on the raft with them and tried not to stare at their nubile young bodies, which was pretty tough for a young guy like me! But I knew I had to “act cool” like this was no big deal or the girls would think I was uncool and wouldn’t take things any further.
What was interesting was that as we got to relaxing and talking for a while, the thought of sex as a goal or outcome gradually went away and it became clear that the whole nudist thing wasn’t really about sex at all. Being a young man, I certainly enjoyed the view (and I hope they did too—At least the lake wasn’t too cold that day—Hahaha!), but I started to understanding the psychologically liberating nature of nudism as a concept. Dano stayed in the water on the side of the raft and was involved in the conversation while navigating the raft and making sure we didn’t end up too far out into the lake. He did his best to act cool and not stare at the girls.
I think we were all chilling and talking for about an hour when Dano & I noticed a rather large, athletic teenage dude standing on the shore only about 50 feet from us in the raft! Dano later said the guy reminded him of Lou Ferrigno, the actor who played “The Incredible Hulk” on the TV show from that era, and I have to admit there was certainly some resemblance. The dude looked like a high school football linebacker, and I was just a skinny, long-haired guitar player! The girls had told us they were guests visiting family friends a few houses down the road from Dano’s, and when we saw him I thought I was in serious trouble. The first thing that ran through my mind was that one of the girls was his sister, the other was his girlfriend, and I believe that actually turned out to be the case!
But when he shouted out to the girls quite casually that they better come back to the house because it was getting close to dinner, I started to relax a little. I wasn’t going to relax quite yet, but one of the girls (the sister, I think) calmly told Dano to bring the raft to the shore, I started to settle down. At that point I felt a little weird, but as we approached the shore and “Hulk, Jr.” could see I was naked, he didn’t bat an eyelash. We all got dressed, said goodbye, and I never really did find out whether these people were tourists from SoCal or just a family of touring nudists. It was an eye-opening experience that prepared me for some later adventures in life… I was grateful at the time for the liberating experience, the lesson that nudism didn’t necessarily mean sex, and even more grateful about 40 years later for the lesson that it could be about sex depending on who the “nudists” were!