DEAR ABBY: I had to laugh at the letter from "Happily Surprised in Minnesota," concerning her visit to a nudist club, but she didn't explain the "non-reaction" of the members. Imagine a nudist club and male and female supermodels parading around, enticing all. That was my husband's fantasy, so I let myself be talked into a visit.
My first sight, as we drove down to the club's office, was a man at least 80 years of age jogging down a trail stark naked, except for his running shoes. It was so unexpected that I burst into fits of hysterical laughter. Much to my husband's displeasure, the giggles continued while we were in the office registering. I was informed that if I felt uncomfortable, I could wear a bathing suit the first day.
So we went to sit at the pool in our bathing suits. There we discovered that a nudist club is real life, not fantasy. It's made up of appendix and gall bladder scars, stretch marks, beer bellies and everything from grossly underweight to grossly overweight. We discovered that sitting clothed while a hundred others are nude brings out the same feelings you'd have wearing jeans and a T-shirt to a formal, black-tie affair. You realize you stand out like a sore thumb and become very uncomfortable. Within a few hours, we removed our suits.
Not once during the entire weekend did I see any reaction to the nudity of others. No one seemed interested in the bodies of others at all, which is the "non-reaction" your reader mentioned. You begin to realize nude is just that -- nude. Nothing is left to the imagination at all. And without imagination, there's no interest in even looking. I understood this, but my husband seemed terribly disappointed.
A word of caution, however. Areas of the body that have never seen sunshine must be heavily protected with sunscreen. I couldn't wear a bra for a week because of the sunburn. My macho husband was in agony for two weeks because he was too "tough" to heed my suggestion about using sun lotion on his buttocks and frontal area. He never mentioned visiting a nudist club again. -- STILL LAUGHING IN FLORIDA
DEAR LAUGHING: Your letter proves that after sunscreen, the second most essential item to take to a nudist colony is a sense of humor.
My dermatologist friends tell me that "Old Sol" is the enemy of a lasting beautiful complexion, and it's unwise to venture out without a sunscreen that has less than an SPF 15 rating. My sun-worshipping readers may want to "bare" that in mind.