Nudity is hard to write about. (Nudge, nudge.)

April 6, 2011

The beauty of being a section editor at a community newspaper is that the senior editor is usually too busy working on the front pages to worry about anything else. That meant I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to producing the Sports section.

I appreciated the independence this lack of interference afforded me (although there was that one editor who complained about “goddamn roundball” during the entire high school basketball season).

Flying solo also allowed me the opportunity to experiment and, on at least one occasion, nudge the boundaries of good taste.

In writing about the numerous injuries suffered by the players on one high school girls soccer team, I referred to them as “a chiropractor’s wet dream.” Mentioning nocturnal emissions in a story about teenage girls? Yeah, probably not what you’d call a shining moment in my journalism career.

I recently had occasion to recall that bit of cheekiness when I read this headline in the March 29, 2011 edition of The (NZ) Dominion Post: Kapiti police to take hard line on sex in the sand.

“Hard” and “sex” in the same headline? Brilliant. The fact a copy editor actually got away with that kind of double entendre? Priceless.

The story? Oh, yeah, it concerned police making plans to “start targeting exhibitionist nudists at a Kapiti Coast beach” because residents were complaining about “offensive sexual behaviour.” No word on whether the complaints were based on jealousy. Considering that the majority of the offenders were gay men, I’m guessing no.

The part of the story that caught my attention was this: “Nudity is allowed on beaches unless it is deemed offensive.”

Nudity is allowed on New Zealand beaches? Oh. Really.

The thing is, I’ve visited several beaches in New Zealand – hell, both cities I’ve lived in have bordered the ocean – and I have yet to witness a single incidence of nudity.

Maybe there are secret beaches only sun worshippers know about, their locations carefully guarded by those who prefer their pink bits to be baked to a golden-brown. A Fight Club for hedonists that no one else knows about because, well, no one talks about Fight Club.

I’ve never had much luck when it comes to catching a sandy eyeful. When I was a young man growing up in the Fraser Valley, the place everyone giggled about was Wreck Beach, but it was located in Vancouver and I simply had no way of transporting my horny teenage self to that fleshy Shangri-La.

Besides, I’d heard the beach was located at the foot of steep bluffs and I had this vision of abseiling all the way to the bottom, arriving breathless and covered in deep scratches from the underbrush, only to find myself surrounded by naked people from my parents’ generation who could best be described as, well, “saggy.” Or “lumpy.” Hardly worth the chunks of skin I’d just left behind on every bramble and thorn.

I recently spent a year in the Cook Islands where the locals swim in their clothes and those businesses who sell bathing suits must weep into their empty cash registers. I attended one company’s Christmas pool party where a young girl leaped into the water wearing a white dress that would not have looked out of place at her First Communion.

There was the occasional report – invariably uttered in a tone of moral outrage – about European tourists sunning themselves in the nude, flaunting both themselves and the Christian values of the locals, but that always seemed to occur on a beach situated exactly opposite wherever I happened to be located at the time.

I’ve always maintained that a man can never see enough boobies in his life but, for some strange reason, I seem to have already achieved my allotted quota. If I’d known I was approaching my designated cut-off point, I would have paid more attention. Or at least taken photos.

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