I was seventeen. Out of the country for the first time in my life, but a resort in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, probably didn't count for much. Still, it was like a microcosm of the world--the weathly Western world, at least. Watching the racial dynamics was both interesting and depressing. The whiter the employee, the more interaction with guests. Some exceptions were made for being very goodlooking, but in general, if your skin was too dark, you were relegated to the kitchen or maid duty. Why present anything other than a white face to the guests? Heaven forbid that you should have to, say, interact with Mexicans while in Mexico.
Ah, those guests--every European nation was represented, with some Americans thrown into the mix. It was odd watching all of those stereotypes in one small area. The Americans were loud and dressed obnoxiously. The British were pasty white and complained a lot. The Italians made sleazy comments to any girl they saw. The Germans were stoic. Sure, I'm making generalizations, but it seemed like a resort of running gags.
But I get away from myself. The point of the story is not to examine preconceived notions, and how when we expect to see people act a certain way, we nearly always will. No, the point of this story is the atrocity of nude beaches.
When, as a young, innocent girl, I heard about nude beaches, I always thought they would be dens of lasciviousness. Beautiful, toned bodies parading around, showing their assets (ha!) for all the world to lust after. I couldn't understand anyone being brave enough to wander around nude, but surely only those most perfect of bodies would be willing to. However, other countries lack my nation's puritanical roots. Nudity on the beaches is not a sensual thing; it's a practical thing. As I discovered when, on those Mexican stretches of sand with no regulations, the European women regularly discarded their tops.
Oh. My. Heavens.
It wasn't the young, firm bodies that opted to lose clothing. No, no indeed. For the most part I didn't see much--partly because of diligent eye-aversion on my part, and partly because not many took the clothing-optional option. However, the worst was yet to come.
I'm not a strong swimmer. I have a hard time fighting currents. I was out in the water with a boogie board, when I saw I was drifting ever closer to an area that was, for whatever reason, roped off. I began paddling to shore. After a bit I realized that I wasn't moving in the direction I wanted--I was being pulled closer and closer to the ropes. And, in between me and the beach, was a woman. A large, large woman. A large, large woman with no top on.
It was like something out of a horror movie. There I was, kicking desperately, but it was like the woman had created a whirlpool of currents around herself. The panic set in as those two, humongous, pasty white floating monstrosities loomed ever larger and closer. Please, I thought, please whatever happens--don't let me touch them.
That trip I dodged a kiss, hid from a psycho Dutch stalker, and got stung by a jellyfish. But I avoided the horror of those hideous natural flotation devices--if only just barely.
No wonder I'm scared of swimming in the ocean.