On the Nude Beach
Sarah, spread-eagled on her New York Jets beach towel, was opening the bottle of rosé. Scratch that. She was trying to open the bottle of rosé, which meant her naked body was shaking and shimmying all over the damn place. In the distance, I could see Rick, my boyfriend, wading into the water like a drunken ballerina. His back and the backs of his legs were white like porcelain. Porcelain with hair, that is. My eyes. There was nowhere to hide my eyes.
“Are you scared?” Sarah asked me after she finally managed to extract the mutilated cork. “Come on,” she said, “it’s fun.”
Grant me this: I had wanted it to be fun, had been excited by the idea of the nude beach, thinking of it like adventure, like test, like mature and freedom, but everything I saw — all that explicit, unearned, undeniably arrogant flesh — massacred the fun and excitement.
And Sarah’s coaxing? Her insistent, adolescent pressure? Her wholehearted enthusiasm that reeked of desperation?
These things felt like a breach or betrayal, and I needed to act fast because I didn’t want to raise my voice and rant about intimacy and restraint, ugliness and groups, what’s sexy and what’s not, who’s free and who’s a slave. I knew I’d sound ridiculous and wind up hurting Sarah’s feelings, there on the nude beach, so I unsnapped the top of my bathing suit, stood up and slid the bottoms down my legs, walked as confidently as I could towards the equally vicious ocean.
“Woo!” Sarah hollered. “That a girl!”
Rick quickly became hard, kept his Speedo in his balled fist and pulled out like he always did. I wondered what happened to his sperm. Did a school of fish eat them? Some lazy crustaceans play with them? Or did they just swim stupidly away? Whatever happened, I was glad the water masked my dryness, that I didn’t have to avoid any more useless questions.
“I saw you two,” Sarah said, her smile’s smugness a smug notch higher than the one her bouncing breasts had achieved.
I dressed fast, saw more of our friends arriving with big grins on their faces and massive amounts of booze in their coolers. I left them all there without a word, left them to do whatever it is you’re supposed to do on the nude beach.
In our hotel room, I cranked the air conditioning and took a shower. When I was done, I put on underwear, jeans, a T-shirt, a sweatshirt, and the thickest socks I had. If I had brought a scarf and hat, I would’ve put them on too. I poured myself a glass of wine and opened a book by Lawrence Durrell.
When Rick returned, no longer sober, he didn’t know what to make of me or our freezing room. Still, he wanted to fuck me again before we all went out to some “special” club, but I acted cold, even though I was very, very warm.
I’m sure when he thinks about that vacation he thinks he did a good job ditching the killjoy prude before things got too serious. People think lots of nonsense, and most of the time it’s better to let them, so I pretended to be sick and didn’t go out to the islands or the downtown bars and clubs or any more of the nude beaches. I did, however, have a three-day affair with one of the bellboys, a native who didn’t understand the concept of a nude beach. He had dark, beautiful skin, was timid and polite in public. His penis, hands, and tongue made me come and come and come. I don’t remember his name, but I loved watching him get dressed. I will never forget it.
Kevin Tosca lives in Paris. Find him at kevintosca.com.
(Next story: The Color of Dead Things by Aleyna Rentz)
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Art by Paul Fischer