Clothes! Who needs ‘em? Eskimo’s maybe; or chip fryers; even non-potty trained toddlers. Nevertheless, most folk wear ‘em. And I suppose it’s useful to determine a cop from a bootleg sometimes.
Me, I’m not too fussed about what I wear. In fact I’d prefer to wear nothing at all. All that washing and ironing; choosing what’s suitable or appropriate every single day. And that’s the reason I look a rag bag I suppose. Problem is--well, me really. You see, I’ve never been the type that looks in the mirror much.
I was holidaying with Ben. I’d booked a lodge in a woodland setting where countryside meets the sea. We love to ramble but sometimes Ben’s energy levels outlive mine. On the first day I lost him. I whistled and called until eventually I heard frantic whining and followed the lead. Through a gap in the thicket I saw Ben racing up and down the beach looking for the way back in. I scrambled through the gap; cast a sharp eye around, and my jaw surely remained for several minutes, right where it dropped.
Presumably a family, I saw four adults and two kids, arms linked, squealing and yelling as they sprinted across the sands and into the sea; completely starkers!
That’s six rump ends; two tiny, two gargantuan and two incredibly relaxed and inattentive as to how far from base camp they’d strayed. This is England’s National Trust Heritage Coastline for heaven’s sake.
Not wishing to witness the spectacle on its return journey, I turned to grab my dog and scarper. Bad move! I spied Ben’s tail wagging gleefully from behind a stripy windshield. Ding Dong! Alarm bells! Beach--ice-cream; Ben adores ice-cream, especially vanilla.
I appealed to his canine sense and attempted to bribe with the promise of a home-made gourmet dog dish for tea, but to no avail. I had to go get him. Hesitantly I peeped around the windshield. No ice-cream, I was wrong. Just a chicken carcass and cake crumbs by the picnic hamper.
I suspected that would quell the appetite of the four rather robust, heavy duty ladies securely plugged into IPods. Tapping fingers and twitching toes, they remained oblivious to the opportunist thief licking his chops. There they lay, blathered in oil; two belly side down and two, not unlike fried eggs, sunny side up. I’d never seen so much meat outside a butcher’s shop.
From nowhere a guy came charging up the beach: “Hey, you with the clothes on.” I quickly turned my back on him. This was bizarre. Not even a hand full of seaweed to preserve his modesty. He poked a finger hard into my shoulder. “Rubbernecking young men like you are not welcome here!”
I didn’t hang around to argue my case. As I slunk off the beach nursing my wounded pride, I noticed the sign.
‘Naturist Club. Members only.’
Back at the lodge I took a good look at myself in the mirror. I liked my tattered jeans and trainers. I loved my non-iron comfy sweatshirts. And my hair, so much less bother when it’s cropped short. Lippy? Mascara? Oh forget that. I ring up my feminine mates.
“You’ll never believe this Beth …
Sue, do you think I need padded uplifts?
Jen, should I shave my top lip?”
The verdict was unanimous!
“You‘ll have to come with me.” I told my girly friends. “I’m new to this.”
We did the rounds; hair and nails, face, new wardrobe. It was surreal. The beautician took my hand and led me to a full length mirror. My eyes screwed tightly shut: “Open.” She trilled. I did. And I so did NOT like that woman staring back at me. But I acted the part. I cooed and clucked; twisted this way and that. I even began to speak an octave higher.
Pink frilly things; buttons and belts; earrings detaching my lobes from my head. Bits‘n’bobs squashed flat or plumped up. I couldn’t be mistaken for a bloke now!
But who was she, that woman surely mocking me? I didn’t know her at all.
Eventually, my friends confessed. They missed me; the old me. Rosy cheeked and pleasantly plump; always in Gumboots being dragged by a dog.
That night, I scrubbed the paint from my face; stripped off the trimmings and chucked them with the trash. Was that my worth in people’s eyes? In God’s eyes?
I think not!
Thank God, who sees the heart through the smokescreen of pretence.
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