Where’s nudity gone? | AspenTimes.com

Where’s nudity gone?

Paul Andersen

It used to be that Conundrum Hot Springs was a place where you could see more of your friends, a place where the bare essential was unveiled, where folks came to practice one of the fundamental human expressions of freedom – nudity.

There aren’t many places where you can strip down in front of God and the whole of creation and feel OK about it. The hot springs was a place where you could put yourself in hot water while getting yourself a steam. Or is that self-esteem?

I never thought I’d see the day that modesty ruled at Conundrum Hot Springs, but I did last week. This sad state of affairs is either a statement of obsequious modesty among the Gen-Yers or it’s indicative of the suburbanization of the wilderness. Either way, it was a shock to be the only one of 25 hot springs users without a bathing suit.

I come from a generation that cherished nakedness as a communal experience. I remember when streaking was an unfettered offshoot of the jogging craze and skinny-dipping was a national pastime.

Conundrum Hot Springs used to be a Mecca for nudity. Getting naked with your friends, new and old, was a privilege not to be missed, a pagan ritual that removed the barriers of clothing and social mores.

Nudity has held a subtle fascination for me for years, and I don’t think I’m alone in wondering what people would look like without their clothes. I have always thought that Superman made poor use of his X-ray vision simply by staring through brick walls. Didn’t he ever check out Lois Lane?

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About 20 years ago, on a bike tour from Athens to Munich, I was almost cured of my intrigue with nudity. Most of the beaches on Crete, the Peloponnese and along the Adriatic coast of Yugoslavia were nude beaches. My buddy and I would ride up, strip down and plunge in, feeling free and easy about our nakedness and the naked bodies around us.

One day, however, things changed. We made a point of stopping at a nudist campground near Zadar, Yugoslavia, and experienced an epiphany. Not only did it hamper our nudist tendencies, it confirmed that middle-aged Germans should never be without their clothing.

All day we had fantasized about the nudist campground, so when we paid our money at the gate, we rode in with visions of bronzed babes cavorting in the sun. Sadly, the first nude person we encountered was a fleshy, beer-bellied bruiser cleaning the mirrors on his mobile home. Sexy, baby!

Next, we saw a woman shaped like a pear who was walking her toy poodle. When the dog began barking hysterically at our bikes, the women shrieked, picked up “Fufu”, and attempted to cover her nakedness with a patch of white fur the size of a powder puff. We didn’t stop laughing until we were 10 kilometers down the road.

Perhaps the modesty now exhibited at the hot springs is based on a similar repulsion at the sight of middle-aged babyboomer flesh. Let’s face it, few of us 50-somethings have the body tone we had 20 years ago, and it may be our aesthetic responsibility to keep it wrapped.

All that beautiful wilderness spoiled by the sagging cellulite and bulging bellies of our aged anatomies is a sobering thought. As much as we like to think otherwise, aging is only appetizing, or even palatable, on wine and cheese.

Still, I ignored convention last week and proudly wore my birthday suit into the hot springs. I did it as much to feel free as it was to show the younger set the way it ought to be. All old hippies worth their tie-died memories and sun-burnt mammaries should rally to the cause like I did.

It is our duty to march up Conundrum Creek with neither bathing suit nor underwear and revel in the open expression of nakedness in the great cathedral of wilderness. Baptisms are sacred and a full-monty immersion in the hot springs should be mandatory for any God-loving pagan worth their hard-earned flab and cellulite.

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