I began to sweat, afraid to let the words escape my lips. In the event I'd misread the signs, my follow-up was a bona fide career ender. My mercurial boss strode past us, his face in a manila folder. My heart thumped, but I was beyond the point of no return. I'd been gearing up to pop the question since I'd learned that the most popular nude beach in the Northeast was just a few short miles from our Manhattan office. Once the boss man was safely out of earshot, I continued to teeter on the line dividing the kosher from the non. It'd be fun. As Joanna returned to sorting the mail, I flickered through a wide range of emotions. I mean, an unceremonious ejection. At a nude beach, I surmised, stimuli would be ratcheted up a thousandfold and belly flopping in the sand or making a desperate dash for the surf would be my only means of cover.
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Gunnison Beach—a modest, two-mile stretch of white sand in North Jersey—was divided into three types of people. First, a bit about myself, this undercover reporter crowd of one. I am not someone who you would call a "naked person. But here I am, faced with a decision. I can observe the nudists with a judging eye and clothed body, or I could try to understand the appeal. So, I took off my top—which was weird, but a bit like taking off a Band-Aid. One swift motion and the anxiety was over. As for the rest of the beach, telling each group apart proved challenging. Nudists are friendly and talkative, and that makes it difficult to discern the chatty nudist from the horny creep.
Which, in and of itself, was an education. But after said 3. And, never having spent a full day wearing nothing but sunscreen, I thought it would be an interesting little trip outside of my comfort zone. It did not disappoint, and here are a dozen things I learned in my afternoon by the pool at a nudist resort.