Thursday, June 18, 2015


Beryllium was once known as glucinum, which means sweet, since beryllium and many of its compounds have a sugary taste. Unfortunately for the chemists that discovered this particular property, beryllium and many of its compounds are poisonous and should never be tasted or ingested.

On the beach to the Baltic Sea, a saltwater body that eventually divests into the Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of Germans along with a few foreigners disrobe as they soak up a tepid sun--even less present throughout the previous season. Close enough to the Arctic Circle to feel the effects of near-polar days and nights during the year, these Germans thirst for sunlight to reset their circadian clock.

My sister, Michelle, and I sit at the back of the sandy, stony beach. I slowly look around at the myriad, white bodies. Many are clothed, but at least a third of the crowd lounges sans textiles. A few intrepid individuals bravely confront the brisk waters.

I think about what I see--small children, school-aged kids, parents, grandparents--clad in nothing but their skin and wonder about the power of our nude bodies. To me, it completely takes away the power of pornography.

While on the one hand, the only bodies that are featured in X-otica-type magazines are truly perfect without sags, wrinkles, or rolls thanks to starvation and the air brush, what I see on the Baltic beach has little resemblance to the centerfolds of Playboy. But not only do the bodies look different on this "nude" beach, the range of people does not compare. The patrons of this beach span all ages and include both genders. It would never sell on the magazine rack.

If the human body is normalized and undressed, figuratively as well as actually, so that none of it is forbidden, then what power can others have who wish to exploit it, to profit from revealing its secret caves and knolls?

I made three attempts to submerge in the frosty sea. Upon the second try, I only made it up to my waist before shouting, "Es ist kalt! Es ist kalt!" About fifteen feet away, a man who'd already splashed rambunctiously into the sea, sloshing water on his male companion, grinned at me and asked mischievously, "Wollen Sie helfen?" while fanning the water with his hand.

I stood in the water up to my middle, looking directly into his eyes, both of us bare-naked, and laughed, "Oh, nein! Danke! It's too cold!"

I felt more comfortable naked than in my bathing suit. In my suit, I'm covering something up, worrying about how the suit accentuates the fat that hangs out at my thighs, wondering if the suit shows off the parts of my body that I hope will be attractive.

In the nude, there is no covering up, no pretense and so I am free to be honest and real.

I want to be nude.