It took more than five years, but last week I was invited to a Key West rite of passage known as the clothing optional party. Actually, it was something like, the Smokin’ Hot Non-Smoking Clothing Optional Graduation Birthday Party. Most of the clothing optional parties I’m told of usually occur at Island House, a local gay resort, or Bourbon Street, a bar with a pool and guestrooms in the back. I’m always off the hook because these events aren’t female-friendly.
But it was time, and I had to face the music. I fancy myself a free and easy kind of gal, but just the thought of this party was making me nervous. I haven’t even begun to try and get into swimsuit shape for the season, and now I’ve got the pressure of potentially getting naked?
Well, actually I knew that wouldn’t happen. What keeps me in check even at my drunkest moments is that certain behavior, and especially photographic evidence of certain behavior, could cause me to lose my day job. Before the job, I had my days of flashing for beads as a Fantasy Fest visitor, and other related shenanigans, so I know I’m not missing out on anything and yet still manage to have a ton of fun. Or so I tell myself.
Really, I have nothing against nakedness. I kind of envy people who publicly throw off their clothes in the blink of an eye. Do I walk around the house in the buff? You bet your birthday suit I do. Hell, when I lived in a fourth-floor condo I didn’t even bother to put up curtains or shades. Even after I discovered the telescope on a neighbor’s balcony.
If I see someone naked, do I turn away in disgust? No. Well, maybe sometimes, like at the Garden of Eden.
But oh, the pressure! The pressure to be one of the cool kids and not look judgy or puritanical when encouraged to take it off. The pressure to confidently strut your stuff in your bathing suit when you are anything but confident. Which is weird because, living on an island, we really don’t wear much of anything nine months out of the year.
To add to my angst, five days before the party I’m informed that all the girls are ordering Gina’s Gems (jeweled pasties) to match their bikini bottoms! Where, god, where does it end? I pray for rain. Back in the day, I was the girl who could devour an entire frozen pizza, top it with a pintof ice cream, slip on a bikini and still not show an ounce of fat.
Not so much anymore. I’m new to this whole workout thing, and it’s a struggle to actually pay attention to what I eat. I took this all for granted and now that I’m in uncharted territory, I’m terrified.
To make matters worse, the weekend before the party I went out of town and stayed at a hotel with the most brutal full-length mirror view I’ve ever experienced in my life. It was almost as if the lighting was designed to penetrate and expand your skin, showing every tiny little fat cell underneath the surface. That was quite a cold hard slap on the ass. And not in a good way.
Then I woke up at 3:00 a.m. and found that six of the 10 TV channels were showing infomercials for diet pills and workout DVDs. I briefly contemplated jumping off the balcony and putting myself out of my misery, but I was on the 10th floor and I’m afraid of heights.
Alas, on my return to Key West, I started going to the gym, but too little, too late, at least for this shindig. Yet four hours before the party, I rallied and did an hour on the elliptical machine . . . and, in an act of self-sabotage, came home and ate all the Chinese leftovers in the fridge.
Finally, it was time. The sun blazed in the afternoon sky and I tried to focus not on nakedness, but on martini mayhem. And boy did I need a martini.
I got on my bike and stopped at KP’s. Leave it to Mr. Burlesque to order a costume change from beach cover-up to bikini and sarong, and then he applied a healthy varnish of gold body glitter (four days later, I’m still cursing him). I put on a brave face and we walked a block to the party. Although I don’t know why I was the one with the brave face; he was wearing a flowy sheer paneled skirt over his bikini brief, topped off with a Samantha Jones-esque black hat to block the sun. From his bare penis, eventually. Surely.
And damn if like, every girl is there in a cute little dress or beach cover-up. Three or four girls were in the pool with their pasties. It was all so goddamn civilized. Where was the drunken debauchery? Where was the wanton nakedness? Where was my martini, damn it? Shaken, not stirred. At least today.
My over-thinking and choreographed cock-blocking were all for naught. Hell, I was so relaxed I didn’t even care when I realized, 10 minutes after the fact, that a guy actually talked condescendingly about the size of my bikini top. Um, so yeah, no one remotely encouraged me to take it all off. Or to take any of it off, for that matter.
It was a little shocking when I realized the naked guy in the pool was the guy I was scheduled to have a massage with the next day. Yes, the visualization did affect my level of relaxation. And I’m pretty sure one friend ended up sporting a black eye. Don’t ask me how she got it or if it’s related to the naked guy in the pool.
There was the couple whodidn’t realize we all knew they were the ones in the shower for 20 minutes in the only bathroom in the house while we all did the pee-pee dance outside the door (hmmm . . . or did they???).
So the girl who was determined to make an appearance and leave in two hours max left when the sun was long gone. But that wasn’t before I danced on the ceiling and spilled martinis on the floor. Our gracious host Scott is still trying to figure out who broke the toilet seat from its hinges. My money’s on Merryl.
And to the guy who peed in the outdoor bathtub and didn’t have the courtesy to rinse: I’m no medical professional, but I think you need to see a doctor.