A game of 8 ball played between two naked men is still called 8 ball.
That’s just one of the things I learned during the month it took me to exhaustively research my just-posted msnbc.com story heralding National Nude Recreation Week.
It’s an evergreen kind of story I’m going to relentlessly pitch each and every year until I find a publication that’ll agree to headline it, “Hams Across America!”
I found talking to nudists over the phone is a lot like talking to fundamentalist Christians in that both are reluctant to admit any of their members might enjoy sex.
It’s an understandable reaction from starchy fundamentalists. They’ve been taught ever since Adam sex means trouble. It might explain their ardor for immaculate conception.
A deity waving a magic wand -- Bibidi! Bobidi! Boo! -- just seems so much tidier than the nuts and bolts of biological sex -- and I’m not speaking metaphorically when I’m referring to hardware. Many popular genital piercings historically involve actual bolts.
As for nuts, well, maybe I’m speaking a bit metaphorically.
The nudists went out of their way to differentiate themselves from swingers and swappers and, really, anyone that enjoyed sex.
Rules at a typical nudist resort are explicit: They don’t want anyone’s magic wands waving around.
Rules stipulate if a naked man finds himself becoming aroused he needs to cover himself with a towel, lay down on his stomach or depart the premises.
The only thing today’s nudists are interested in raising is awareness.
Almost every nudist I interviewed asked me if I were one of them. I had to say, sorry, no. I don’t share their beliefs, their values, and I wouldn’t begin to speculate on what kind of secret handshakes nudists exchange.
It was a lie.
You see, I do consider myself a nudist.
Well, let’s say I’m a situational nudist.
I’m naked whenever I think I can get away with it.
I guess in that way I’m like Bugs Bunny. He’d start out every episode naked and perfectly at peace. But as the world came crashing in on him, he’d don costumes like opera gowns or doctor’s scrubs depending on what bone-headed choices Elmer Fudd made at the time.
I’m like that. I’ve slept naked since college and still wake up everyday in the buff. I can’t recall now what motivated the choice. I wish I could say it involved dusk-to-dawn passions, but I don’t think that was it.
More than likely it involved the over-consumption of Ouzo, a powerful Greek liquor that imparted the unusual side effect of me scattering my clothes all over Athens, Ohio.
But nudity seemed to suit me or, more accurately, it seemed to birthday suit me.
I was soon naked in my dorm room, in the halls, in the laundry room and once on a dare through the length of the packed dining hall at Ohio University’s South Green in just 1 minute and 12 seconds breaking a record that had stood for 3 years.
And I was rarely near a body of water when my naked body wasn’t frolicking in the water. I loved to skinny dip.
Times change. Now the only time I’m naked is in the dark with my wife.
The main reasons I’m rarely ever naked anymore is, of course, my daughters.
Children are where I draw the line regarding nudity -- and I draw it thick in broad strokes from my hips to just above the knees.
Yet nudism still has its appeal. It sounds contradictory, but having to wear pants bums me out.
This was never more apparent than last month when we enjoyed three days at a private residence on the banks of the Chesapeake.
The magnificent house and pool were a nudist paradise, at least for the girls who enjoyed their first skinny dip. And I now have pictures that’ll refute anyone who dares call my wife a prude.
And there I was, a veteran nudist unable to shuck my preposterous baggy swimsuit.
I wondered in frustration if I’ll ever get to enjoy a real skinny dip again.
Of course, according to the obesity charts prepared by the Centers for Disease Control, the point may be moot.
I’d have to drop about 20 pounds to even qualify as a skinny dipper.