During the Seventies I used to vacation every summer at Provincetown, Massachusetts, aka "P-Town." I loved Provincetown. Because I am a gay man, Provincetown was the one place on this planet where I could totally relax and be myself.
I went to Provincetown to relax, met other gay men and to work on my tan. Every time I got off the commuter plan at Provincetown's small airport I felt a complete sense of freedom.
My favorite beach for sunbathing and working on my tan was Herring Cove, which was outside of town. The beach was huge and sparsely populated. The bay water (I was on the bay side) was crystal clear and cold unlike the in town beach which was cloudy and bathtub warm.
One day while lying on the beach, with my eyes closed, baking the in sun a shadow fell across my face. I put my arm up across my forehead to shield the sun from my eyes and looked up. What greeted my welcoming eyes was a totally nude man looking down at me. "Well, hello" I said. Of course I was a bit discombobulated by his state of undress. He introduced himself as Tony Bellafoto (are you out there Tony)? I sat up and extended my hand to his to shake. This was the first time in my life that I ever shook the hand of a nude man. I have to admit that from my position lying on the sand and Tony standing, I was careful where I steered my extended hand. My eyes and brain weren't exactly coordinated at this moment.
After we exchanged pleasantries, Tony asked if he could join me. "Why of course!" I said. I'm no fool. A lean attractive man with a FULL body tan asks to join me on the beach who am I to say "no."
Tony spread his towel on the sand beside my towel. He lowered himself on his towel while my uncollable eyes checked out his business bobbing around and also getting settled. I have to tell you, this was not an unpleasant experience, lying next to an attractive nude man on the beach. Yes indeed.
Our conversation got around to Tony asking me if I had ever sun bathed in the nude. I told him that I hadn't. He asked why. I told him that I never had the opportunity but that I always did want to. He said "Well, now is your chance". And I thought, "Well, why not?"
I stood up and looked around. For what? To see if there was anyone else who would see me pull my swim trunks down? There was no one else in sight. It was a weekday and we were behind a dune. Tony told me that the nude beach was in Turo, which was the ocean side of the bay but he preferred Herring Cove. He told me the only problem was if a park ranger came by that we would have to put our trunks on. Tony said not to worry, he would keep a lookout for the park ranger. The rangers patrolled the beaches on horses. Ironically, their horses were nude and had their business swinging around for all to see.
So I pulled my trunks down and laid back down on my towel. No lightning bolt came out of the sky to turn me into a pillar of salt (shades of Sodom and Gomorrah). As a matter of fact, I felt quite liberated. In fact, IT FELT GOOD TO LET "IT" ALL HANG OUT. And I could tell by the expression on Tony's face, he was quite comfortable with our situation also.
Ah, so there we were. Two young, lean, gay guys in their prime and in the all together lying on the beach, thinking to ourselves "life just doesn't get any better than this."
After a some more conversation we laid back to bake in the hot summer afternoon sun on the sandy beach listening to the sea gulls and the waves gently rolling in on the beach.
After about fifteen minutes I heard voices in the distance. I pulled the towel off my head that was covering my eyes from the bright midday sun and saw a group of about five ladies off in the distance dressed in khaki with safari hats. "Uh, Tony". Tony removed his towel that was covering his eyes and looked at the ladies who were getting closer to us. He evaluated the situation and then told me "Oh, they're just a group of women on a bird watching expedition." Oh really?
Tony advised me to lie back down and pay them no attention. Oh really? Seeing no other alternative other than to pull on my bathing suit (which was somewhere in my bag) and looking pretty ridiculous with my ass hanging out for them to see while I put each leg into my bathing suit, I decided to take Tony's advice and lie back down and put my towel over my eyes, continue my sunbathing and pay the birdwatching ladies no attention.
As we lay there I could hear their voices come closer and closer. Yes, there were talking about birds. However, when their voices came very close to us, they stopped talking. I know they were standing close because two of the ladies were blocking the sun, I could feel their shadows on my body.
Uh huh. I wonder why they stopped talking. Then it dawned on me, they were checking OUR BIRDS! I wonder what they wrote down on their pads when they saw THAT.
After what seemed like a long time but was probably actually only a minute or two, they began talking again as their voices trailed off into the distance. I couldn't quite make out the words but I did sense the tone of their voices and it was something like "WELL, I NEVER! and DID YOU EVER?"
Tony said nothing more about it. Apparently this wasn't the first time his goods were on public display. It was a first time for me. It was a strange feeling. I felt like I was exposed. Actually, I was EXPOSED wasn't I? It certainly was a different experience.
Later, Tony asked if I wanted to take a dip in the water. We were hot (in more ways than one) and I thought that was a good idea. The waters at Cape Cod are always cold. Clear but cold. We ran into the cold, clear water, and took the plunge.
It was a different experience splashing in the water in the all together It really did feel natural, the way it should be. In fact it felt great! The only problem was when I got out of the water and strode on the wet sand of the beach. I looked down and I couldn't see ANYTHING! Oh, I did see my pubic hair (sorry to that mental image in your minds, I don't shave) but WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?
Here's the story folks, MAJOR SHRINKAGE. Remember that Seinfeld episode about "shrinkage?" Well, it's true, especially if you're coming out of very cold water. WOW.
Not to worry though, after a few minutes of laying on the beach everything returned to normal. Phew!
Tony and I stayed on the beach for about another hour before we decided to call it a day. And no, I didn't get sunburned on that part of my body that had never been exposed to direct sunlight in all my thirty-nine years (this took place in 1979). I did have some concern about this I have to admit. But all I got was a little bit pink then back to the natural, unexposed white flesh that has never saw direct sunlight.
Tony asked to meet the following day. I agreed to meet him but I told him that I wouldn't be nude sun bathing anymore. Once was enough for me. Thanks but no thanks. Been there, done that, let's move on.
I did ask Tony to take a picture of me so I could check this off of my Bucket List. He took my picture with his camera and sent me later on in the summer after I had returned home to Philadelphia. I got the slide and promptly hide it in my closet. Yes folks, back in the closet I went.
Going through my slides this past week I came across it. This is the first time I've seen this picture since I Tony sent it too me at the end of 1979. It's been in a box all by itself with all my other slides. I decided that it was time for this photo to come out of the closet so to speak. So here it is folks, my answer to Burt Reynolds and Scott Brown!
The way I look at it, if they can do it I can too. Nothing to be ashamed of. It is what it is.
An interesting side note. I showed this picture to my GOOD friend Lar this morning, giving him a head's up about my blog posting. He took one look and almost fell off his chair laughing! Am I missing something here? I asked Lar and he said it was the wide, white swath of skin that tickled his funny bone. I guess I was a dead giveaway that day on the beach. The bird-watching ladies probably knew it was my first day at the races. Like I said "It is what it is."