I can just hear it now. Why is Richardson writing about skinny dipping when the weather’s starting to get cold?

Fair question. But there is a rational answer even though “rational” can be defined in a multitude of ways depending on who’s doing the explaining. In this particular case I’m in charge of defining what’s reasonable and what is not so let me clarify why this topic came to mind. Listen up and if you don’t follow the logic just send me a nasty e-mail telling me I’m crazy.

Here’s my line of thinking. During a summer’s drought I pray for rain. When the rain comes I’m exceedingly thankful. However after a week of rain a severe case of cabin fever typically sets in and I want the rain to stop so I can go outside and play. This type of scenario repeats itself throughout the year. When it’s cold for too long I yearn for warm weather. When it’s steaming hot outside for an extended period I crave cooler weather. You get the picture – bet some of you follow the same pattern.

Just fickle I suppose.

So during the recent spate of cold and rainy weather I began dreaming about bygone days of summer. That meant being out of school, getting hot and sweaty and heading off to the Mullet Hole behind Lake Rutledge to remedy that situation by going swimming buck nekkid. If you’ve never been skinny dipping in the hot Georgia summer I’m sorry because you missed out on one of the greatest experiences life has to offer.

When I was growing up in the 1960s this activity was commonplace. Of course that was the decade of peace, love and streaking so it makes perfect sense that people would swim in the buff. Rational. There’s that word again.

But, as every Southern boy knows there are some iron-clad rules and ethics involved in nude swimming – at least there were during that most decadent of decades. One important rule of thumb was to choose your location wisely. This would be a remote place so that there were no casual passersby. If word of your adventures should get back to mama or the preacher, it was certain to cause trouble.

Another rule was to never go skinny dipping alone. Certainly it’s not safe but more importantly, it’s not nearly as rewarding as going with a group of your peers. Of course it goes without saying that timing is everything. It’s best to go when the temperature is 100 degrees but on the other hand there can be scenarios when going at night may be worthwhile as well.

When participating in this activity there always needs to be some high quality leadership. If you are an experienced skinny-dipper don’t be afraid to take the lead and be the first one to strip. This will help the novices of your group to get into the spirit of things and shed not only their embarrassment but their clothes as well.

Continuing on the subject of rules and ethical behavior for nude swimming it should be noted that a couple of other things are to be avoided. One should never drink and dip. Although alcohol may make it easier to get into the swing of things it is not a good idea. Many a young swimmer has wound up sleeping naked on the bank and waking up in the dead of night alone in a dark place with a chilled body and a horrific headache.

And by the way there has always been a rule that flash photography is strictly forbidden.

As we wind up this seminar on the ethics of skinny dipping it must be said that there is one guideline far more important than all the others – there can be no stealing of clothes. That dirty deed is completely out of bounds and should not be tolerated. Some poor soul will have to come trudging home with just a fig leaf strapped to their midsection not to mention that the mosquitos will have a field day.

Rationally speaking, if one of your group shows up in town with no clothes on it is sure to create a scandal which will ultimately reach the ears of all the mamas and probably the preacher – and that will surely lead to some unfortunate confrontations.

To make matters worse there’s never a fig leaf around when you need one.

E-mail your skinny dipping rules to

dar8589@bellsouth.net

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