Susan: So this is your local high school. It seems almost brand new, and impressive.
Dave: Yes, it’s pretty new. The old high school was a real relic, of the 1930s I think. This one is better in almost every way, in addition to simply not being rather decrepit. There’s a fine library, comfortable, well-lit classrooms, a modern computer network so that students can do a lot of their learning on individual computers. And, of course, an excellent swimming pool. Although Danielle’s swim team isn’t sponsored by the school, they’re able to rent the pool – at a reasonable price – for their weekly practicing and when they’re hosting a swim meet.
Susan: Goodness. It still can’t be cheap to rent an Olympic-size pool for a couple of hours every week.
Jan: No, it’s not cheap, but all the parents of team members seem to think it’s worth it. I know we do – especially since Danielle has been so successful as a swimmer. Also, the girls themselves work hard on several fund-raising events during the year. That gives them plenty of motivation to perform their best in competitions.
Susan: While it’s true that winning isn’t everything, there’s still no doubt it’s a big deal. Didn’t someone say “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll certainly end up somewhere else”?
Dave: That was supposedly Yogi Berra, I think.
Danielle: I’m probably being quite overly ambitious, but I have hopes of at least trying out for the next Olympics.
Susan: Well, I certainly wouldn’t bet against you, dear. It’s certainly impressive that you’re also a virtuoso pianist – in addition to being a potential Olympic competitor.
Danielle: That’s probably far too much to hope for – but I can certainly try.
Susan: You go, girl! That’s definitely the right attitude. However things turn out, your Gramma will be very proud of you.
Danielle: Oh, look, here come Shelley and her family right now. At least, I suppose that’s her family. I’ve seen her with them before, but haven’t actually met them. The family name is Amberson, but I don’t know their first names. Hey, Shelley, could you and your family hold up for a sec so we can get acquainted with all of you? My Gramma is here to watch us practice today.
Shelley: Sure. (Turning to her mother) Mom, this is Danielle and her family. She’s probably the best swimmer on the team.
Julie Amberson: We’re delighted to meet you and the rest of your family, Danielle. It’s our pleasure to meet the family of the team’s star swimmer. I’m Julie, Shelley’s mother. This is my husband, Mark. And this is Shelley’s older brother, Terry.
Mark Amberson: This is my pleasure, too. It’s unfortunate we haven’t gotten acquainted before.
Danielle: This is my Gramma Susan. She’s my Mom’s mother. And this is my Dad, Dave, and my brother, Sean. Gramma is visiting with us for awhile, and I’m really glad she could be here to watch our team.
Jan: We’re the Stuarts, and we’re pleased to meet all of you, as well. I agree it’s too bad we haven’t introduced each other before now.
Julie: No problem. This is Shelley’s first year on the team, so it’s not too surprising we haven’t met all the other parents yet. Sometimes I just bring Shelley by myself, since Mark has to work some Saturdays. He’s a contractor, and his schedule is not very predictable. He usually has several projects he needs to keep an eye on.
Mark: It’s kind of a hectic job, but I make enough to support the family on. I can’t complain about that. I’m sure the girls are eager to go now to get ready to swim, since practice is scheduled to start in just a couple of minutes. Shall we find a place over on that side where we can watch and get to know each other a little better?
Dave: Certainly, that sounds fine.
Mark: So what do you do for a living, Dave?
Dave: I’m a freelance software engineer. It’s pretty specialized work, since I have skills that not a lot of others do, but they’re in a good deal of demand. So I don’t have any trouble finding gigs, and the pay is good. We live in a pretty comfortable house in town, and it’s perfect for Danielle, since we have a very nice pool. During the summer she can use it as much as she wants. At other times she has to rely on the indoor pool here, but fortunately it’s very convenient for us. How about you and your family? Danielle says she thinks you live a few miles outside of town.
Mark: Yes, we’re about 15 miles outside. But it’s not any trouble to come in here when we need to, for shopping and things like this. The upside is that we have a nice piece of property – about 10 acres, with trees on it and plenty of privacy.
Jan: You say “privacy”, so there’s a question I want to ask. I hope you don’t consider the question too nosy, because if my assumption is wrong it might be a bit embarrassing, but I’ll ask anyhow.
Julie: No problem. Ask anything you like. We can easily say “no comment” if necessary, though I rather doubt it will be. We don’t have anything we feel a need to hide.
Jan: Fine. Well, you see, Danielle has noticed that when your daughter changes into her swimsuit at practices she doesn’t seem to have any tan lines, even though she obviously spends plenty of time in the sun. So Danielle has wondered whether perhaps there are some in your family – in addition, possibly, to Shelley – who might be nudists. Danielle doesn’t feel she knows Shelley well enough to ask her directly, so she’s kind of been bugging us to ask you for her.
Julie: Oh, yes, we’re all definitely nudists, and we’re not the least bit ashamed to admit it to anyone who seems reasonably open-minded – as I’m sure you are. Do you have nudists in your family too? Shelley has told us that she’s the only one on the team that doesn’t have any tan lines, so we suppose Danielle, at least, isn’t a dedicated nudist.
Jan: I’m afraid I have to say that at this point in time Dave is the only one in our family who even comes close to being a “nudist” – or “naturist”, which is the term her prefers. My mother, Susan, had some experience with open nudity in her family, but that was a long time ago. I think I’d better let Dave explain a little more where he’s at.
Dave: I guess, especially compared to your family, I don’t have much right to call myself a naturist. I have been interested in the idea for almost a year, and I’ve been gradually learning more about it. A couple of months ago I started going naked a fair amount of the time at home when nobody else but Jan was there. I usually work from home, so it’s quite possible to be naked a lot.
Jan: I must admit it was a little surprising to me when I learned about Dave’s interest in nudity and naturism. It’s not something that had even occurred to me. And, honestly, I don’t have the desire that Dave has to be naked as much as he can when nobody else is around and it’s possible.
Dave: Fortunately, Jan has been pretty understanding of this interest I have in nudity, but until just this week our kids, let alone anyone else, haven’t known about it. Since Susan has been visiting with us, and she told us she had experience with nudity in her family when she was pretty young, I’ve sort of put all my cards on the table. Sean thinks it’s fine for me to be naked if I want when only our family is around, though he hasn’t actually tried it yet, as far as I know. Danielle doesn’t seem to mind at all either for me to go naked around our place, including our backyard pool. But like Sean she hasn’t indicated an interest in trying it herself.
Julie: Well, our experience has been quite different. Neither of us were raised in nudist families, but shortly after we got married we both decided that, hey, it’s a real blast to be naked most of the time at home, not just when we’re in bed, so let’s just do it. We’re usually naked outside on our property too, when it’s warm enough. And if we have any clothes on when we go out, they come off again as soon as we get inside. Terry and Shelley do just the same – we’ve raised them as nudists since the day they were born.
Mark: For a long time our kids had no idea that most people aren’t usually naked when only their family is around. When they learned that, they felt sorry for families that weren’t naked like ours.
Jan: So it’s worked out pretty well for your family, then.
Julie: Yes, on the whole it’s been quite a positive experience. However, from meeting many other nudists, we’re quite aware that everyone’s different in how they become nudists. People become full-fledged nudists like Mark and me at very different rates and for many different reasons. No one needs to apologize if it takes them much longer to grok it. Many people never quite get what’s so great about nudity. But even in that case, most are understanding about our preference for nudity – as long as they’re open-minded and willing to accept us naked, as we are whenever possible.
Jan: Do you have much trouble from people who find out you’re nudists but aren’t especially open-minded?
Mark: Yes, sadly, that does happen sometimes. That’s the reason privacy’s important for us. In the past most neighbors we’ve had raised no objections if they happened to see us naked occasionally. Neighbors who had young kids tended to be a little more concerned about visible nudity. But on the whole, only a few neighbors have actually been rather unpleasant about it. And quite a few neighbors have been very accepting of our nudity.
Jan: That’s encouraging.
Mark: In fact, we’ve had many neighbors who’ve defended us to others who are more skeptical of nudity. Many have been happy for any of us to visit in their homes as naked as we normally are – even if they had kids. And they’ve generally felt free to visit us at home or let their kids visit – just as they would with most other neighbors.
Julie: Nevertheless, we’ve always tried not to be flagrantly naked where others could see us, unless we were fairly sure they wouldn’t mind. And it’s always possible neighbors might have visitors who’d object to seeing nudity even if their hosts weren’t. We’re never ashamed of being seen naked. However, we now have a place with 10 acres, and almost none of that can been seen from outside. So we can be completely relaxed being naked almost anywhere on the property.
Jan: Since our place is in town, there’s no real privacy in the front yard, but the backyard is pretty private. It is possible to see small parts of our backyard and the pool area from a few directions. Now that Dave plans to be naked most of the time, I guess we’ll cross our fingers that nobody’s offended if they happen to see any nudity.
Dave: Isn’t there’s a downside to living away from town, even though you can have lots of land and little exposure to neighbors? Doesn’t that make it more difficult to find other nudist or naturist families that you can have a lot in common with?
Mark: Yes, but finding other naturist families has always been a problem for us, and living in a sparsely populated area doesn’t make it any easier. I think that’s one of the main problems for people who enjoy social nudity these days. It’s just too difficult to find other people who enjoy being naked as much as we do. It’s only natural for people to want to socialize with others who enjoy the same sorts of things – and that means a variety of preferences and attitudes, as well as activities. Sure, it’s all well and good to interact with different types of people. But when what you really want is to do things you especially enjoy, you want to be with people who enjoy those same things.
Jan: I don’t really have any idea how you’d go about finding other people who enjoy social nudity, though I assume there are clubs and resorts and associations for nudists and naturists. Seems like, in the past at least, there were nudist camps scattered around the country.
Julie: Sure, there are still nudists camps, as well as more upscale resorts, and other specialized things like bed and breakfast places, clothing-optional commercial hot springs, and so on. There are still clothing-optional beaches here and there, at some spots on lakes, rivers, and the coasts. But the number of such opportunities seems to be gradually declining. For whatever reason, nudism and naturism, at least in their traditional forms, seem to be losing rather gaining popularity.
Mark: In our experience the problem seems to be that most nudists and naturists these days are older folks. Younger people seem to have become increasingly less likely to get involved. We’ve gone as a family to a variety of places like Julie just mentioned. And the majority of people at many of the places seem to be already retired folks, or others who are near retirement. At a lot of places most of the people there come and stay in big RVs or travel trailers. These are generally older folks, rather than young families or young single people. Please don’t misunderstand. We have nothing against people who are older. It’s just that we don’t have as much in common with them as they have with each other.
Julie: Single people without partners of the opposite sex used to be unwelcome at many nudist places. That’s changed somewhat now, but the singles who come seem mostly to be males. That’s not to say anything bad about such people. The problem is that there are just too few who are like our family or yours. These problems are well-recognized among nudists and naturists, but nobody seems to have good ideas for what to do about them. It’s kind of depressing. As Mark said, we don’t mind meeting different kinds of people – but we certainly want to do things with others who enjoy the same things.
Jan: What sorts of things, for instance?
Julie: Oh, like camping in more remote or undeveloped areas – places you need a sturdy 4wd truck to get to, where big RVs and trailers just can’t go. That’s definitely not because we don’t want others to see us naked. It’s because being naked in places that are very different from modern cities and “civilization” just feels so – I don’t know – comfortable and liberating to us. Modern amenities are well and good in general. But such things are closely associated with clothing – and that’s exactly what we want to dispense with. We want to spend time in places that are very different from where any clothing at all is required.
Mark: There is one other alternative to fixed places where it’s possible to enjoy nudity, usually called “travel clubs”. These are relatively small groups of people who associate together to meet at the homes of members, or go to beaches or commercial nudist places. Some of them even do camping trips like Julie mentioned. One has to be accepted as a member to join, but that’s no big obstacle for “real” nudists who are socially compatible with others in the group.
Dave: But how do you find such groups in the first place?
Mark: Well, that’s the problem, no? Some are listed in various directories, but many aren’t, and nobody really knows how many that might be. Word of mouth from nudists or naturists you happen to know seems like the main way to locate such groups. And even then, a suitable group could meet mainly somewhere far from where you live. Sure, it would be fine to attend a party of nudists for occasions like potluck parties, Halloween parties, football-watching parties, or whatever. But how often would you want to do that if travel time to and from takes longer than the party itself?
Dave: What about the Internet? Isn’t that the way most people now learn about all sorts of things – commercial resorts and destinations, social groups, and even people to go on a date with? Aren’t there groups on places like Facebook where people can “meet” to talk about social nudity?
Julie: Oh yes, indeed. Our son Terry spends a lot of time checking out online places like that. I have the impression he hasn’t found that sort of thing very satisfactory.
Terry: Yeah, unfortunately it’s pretty depressing. There are various groups like that on Facebook. But they have all sorts of problems. People who participate actively seem mostly to be guys. There are a few younger and older women, but they’re way outnumbered. I suspect many women read the discussions in those groups, but they’re afraid to speak up, due to concern about revealing their names or locations and getting lots of unwanted attention. And you have little chance to know what the person behind any particular name is actually like, unless you’ve met them personally. But what good is that if the goal is to meet people in the first place?
Jan: Sounds a lot like all the dating sites that seem to be popular now.
Terry: Exactly, just like in dating apps or at dating sites you can’t tell very much about a person from what they reveal online. There are a few “social networking” places, sort of like Facebook, but just for nudists. Not only do they have the same sorts of problems, but the level of activity is usually much lower, so if you check in occasionally you may see very little that’s new.
Dave: This is all rather discouraging. I’m still kind of in the dark about how to get more involved enjoying being naked with other people who share that enthusiasm. At this point I don’t even know whether others in my family are also ready to enjoy being naked.
Julie: Mark and I understand your frustration very well – even though our whole family has had the advantage of a naked lifestyle for a long time and people like us are generally much more welcome in nudist activities. Other families like ours are still hard to find, given the problems Mark and I have mentioned. I’m pretty sure there are quite a few families in which all or most members are frequently naked, yet they’re afraid to let most neighbors or even most relatives know that. We’ve been acquainted with various families like that in places we’ve lived before. But we found out about them only by chance, or because they knew about us since we’re so open about our fondness for nudity and they sought us out.
Susan: My own family was a little bit like that when I was young.
Julie: That’s great. Once a family is comfortable enough being somewhat open about enjoying nudity, the word gets around. You can depend on that, and you should be prepared for it. The chances are that others who aren’t so open may come to you. But the problem is that as long as families that enjoy nudity are secretive about it, they’re hard to find. Someone has to make the first move.
Dave: That’s certainly how it looks to me.
Julie: You know what? Maybe you’ve just made that first move. It often takes only one person in a family who’s enthusiastic about nudity to gradually bring more family members around. Here’s what I think: if you don’t have other plans today your family should come visit our place after the practice here is over. We have a nice pool if there’s anyone else who wants to beat the heat, naked or otherwise. You could stay for dinner if you like. Maybe we could even talk more of you into trying nudity. That OK with you, Mark?
Mark: Yes, certainly.
Julie: There’d be no pressure on anyone to take their clothes off. But even if it’s just Dave who wants to be naked, that’s fine too. How about it?
Dave: You can definitely count me in. What about you, Jan?
Jan: It’s fine with me. I rather doubt I’m ready to take off all my clothes, but I’d love to see Julie and Mark’s place.
Susan: I’d absolutely love to go too. Who knows? I might even take off my own clothes.
Jan: I’m pretty sure Danielle wouldn’t want to miss this. If not, she’d better have a damn good excuse. Sean?
Sean: Sure. Sounds fine to me too.