One of the most sensual things I have ever done needs a new word to describe it. When I was a kid, we called it “skinny-dipping”. But that’s no longer appropriate, since there’s rarely a skinny person anywhere in sight, and a “dip” implies it’s in and out and rather risqué all the while. This is not the case. It’s a small peninsula in a lake full of people doing the same thing: lying on various mats, blankets, towels, with assorted paraphernalia, stark naked. Occasionally taking a swim. Having a cigarette. Reading. Sunning various sides and flipping from time to time. Adjusting their sun umbrellas as the sun moves. And watching everyone else around them.

I’m old enough not to care much if I’m being appraised while naked. There’s a discreet rule that everyone more or less adheres to: no staring. Eyes flit around but rarely meet. You steal glances at particularly interesting pieces of flesh quickly and furtively. The one situation where it seems appropriate to take longer, more direct looks is when people get into or out of the water or get up to get dressed or arrive and undress.

The entire situation is sensual. Meeting the elements, the air, the heat, the water, the grass and the occasional ant or two with your entire length and folds of skin is a wondrous thing. Absorbing everyone else around you doing the same thing, being so different yet so close to you, in an exquisite long-distance intimacy… truly awesome.

I enter the water gradually. No one will ever convince me that doing it any other way is “better” (men seems to like the idea of plunging, preferably head first, into water considerably colder than bike-ride heated bodies). When I think about it, my preferred pattern of sexuality is similar. Not to be rushed into anything here. And why? Ankles, then knees, thighs. Slowly fingering my way with my toes on the slimy, stony lake bottom. When the coolness hits the perineum, I let out tell-tale breaths, gasps of temperature transition. I cannot help this, and it pretty much continues, if not escalate, while tediously working my way up to the belly, solar plexus, heart. Once the nipples tickle the water, I’m usually okay. From there, it’s sink in. And go. First with a bit of old person, head-stay-dry breaststroke until I feel the moment where the water beckons like a lover to let just go. I turn on my back and relish my best discipline: the backstroke. My goal is the little string of buoys, big yellow balls with little white balls between them, all on a very long rope stretching from coast to coast. On this particular day, I seem to be racing the ominous clouds going in the same direction - obviously the day’s outing isn’t going to be a leisurely one. I reach the rope and glide it between big toe and the next to hang onto my algae soaked flipflop, balancing my way along, arms outstretched. It’s a wonderful chance for a breather and to get a look around, to sink deeper into the fluid hugging me tightly and release more, more, more. Letting go of the rope is always a tiny, sad moment, so I do a bit of floating, twisting, turning, playing. My body is a natural floater and I could stay that way effortlessly for what seems to be forever, making the idea of lying on an inflatable mattress – for many pass me left and right – slightly absurd. And no amount of plastic sticking to skin can ever be seen as good, as sweet, as deliriously encompassing as just lying on water, feeling every little ripple (and bigger ripples), listening, letting go, moving gently with the entire mass – as part of it.

As I slowly paddle/stroke my way back to shore, I am utterly taken by the sight of a young couple entering the water. She is an amazing beauty and he fades at first in her light. Reddish hair in a PR-person sort of short bob, her skin is immaculate and truly radiantly white. She has perfect, perky, anti-gravitational breasts that she coyly covers with a towel that looks like she must have inherited from her grandmother. Striped and oldish, it’s peculiarly unfitting to the rest of what she exudes. Both of them are ridiculously thin but still not what I would define as skinny; they are true peninsula eye-candy with fashionably hairless pubes. As I get closer (though far enough away to be able to stare without being obvious about it), I see there is an obvious age difference between the two of them, he being younger, if perhaps not by much. He late twenties to her mid-thirties, hard to say. She was protesting. The slime on the stones was too much for her. She was not going in farther than her calves. This gave everyone around the satisfaction of being able to look at her longer. He was playfully encouraging her to go deeper. She wasn’t having any of it. And then, I noticed a glint. On the tip of his penis, there was … well … something silver. The idea of a pierced penis makes me shudder. I can’t get my head around it. But then, I can’t understand most piercings. Or tattoos. I tried not to look too intently but the pull is awful. In my mind’s eye, I could envision swimming up to him to inspect it – up-close. Instead, I opted for pulling myself out of the water as quickly as possibly. By the time I padded onto shore, they were in an embrace, kissing like the fresh lovers they certainly were. I wondered (as any curious girl would) how his cold metal tip must feel inside. If it hurt him. Or helped him. How long it took her to like it. If she did. And why.

The next day, not a cloud in the sky, the perfect contrast to the porcelain princess marched past my flat little fortress: a proud old woman I would guess to be somewhere over 60. Her flesh literally hung off her bones, she was covered head-to-toe with wrinkles but her skin was as dark as any Caucasian could possibly ever become. I suspect she’s among the daily retiree crowd who play cards and casually talk about life and politics while spread-legged on their little chairs, some fully manicured, some big old hairy beasts, all having an excellent, peaceful time of it.

The beauty of the elements, these people, each and every one of them majestic and beautiful, the energy, the let-go flow and genuine air of “the world is okay today” is intriguing, intoxicating. An experience to relish – and repeat.

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