The hippie–hater continuum

This weekend, some friends and I went to the nude beach at Hanlan’s Point. We sat on the sand and watched the nude people mill about. Close to us was a nude man, telling a nude woman about some clothed girls who had taken pictures of his “bum” while he was bent over. I didn’t want to be one of those girls. I wanted to be nude.

I took off my shirt. Eventually, I took off my skirt. More friends arrived and we sat in a circle. I said, “Guys, I’m gonna do it. I’m gonna get nude.” They said, “OK.” I said, “Will you get nude, too?” They said, “No.” I said, “K, I’m gonna do it now.” They said, “Go right ahead.” Then I waited until no one was looking and took off my bra.

Everyone acted casual about it, but they seemed uncomfortable. They had never seen me topless before and they were probably worried that I was going to take off my underwear. So I asked my friend “Samantha” to come for a walk with me. She wasn’t comfortable getting nude, so she kept all her clothes on. But once we were out of our friends’ sightline, I did it. I got nude.

It was the best.

You should know that my friends and I are not, by and large, nude people. We are not sandals people, or nice-is-good-enough people, or play-any-kind-of-instrument-in-public people. I am not necessarily proud of this, just stating a fact. Wherever we go, we are kind of the peanut gallery.

Being a hater is good in some situations. Like if a stranger tries to butt into a conversation with whatever is on their mind, because they come from a world where everyone is friends no matter how irrelevant their observations are. That’s rude. Or when a band is super lousy and keeps imploring the audience to do things for them, like wave their hands in the air like they just don’t care. I’m not going to do that. Not for you guys.

But if you spend too much time hating, you start to feel like life is passing you by. At the end of the day, what do we haters do for fun? Mostly, we stand around and drink. Meanwhile, there are all sorts of hippies out there doing novel things for fun.

Sometimes I wish I could join them, but usually I can’t. Occasionally I walk by people doing outdoor puppet theatre and think, Wow, look at what they’re doing. I want to stay and watch, but then I see some grinning middle-aged woman with a camera and it just feels too goofy. I think people who do renaissance stuff are really cool, but if I joined in I would probably start giggling and ruin their whole suspension of disbelief thing. I know people who play in percussion ensembles, and I think it’s great that they do that. The rhythm really gets into your bones. But when they play in Kensington Market and I see all those people in Tevas dancing in the street to no rhythm in particular, I have to get out of there.

I have a lot of shame, and I am easily bothered by people and the foolish things they do, such as have a party in the middle of Kensington Avenue when I’m trying to get groceries. But, at the end of the day, I think life is awesome, and I would like to enjoy it as much as possible.

The urge to enjoy life sometimes conquers the shame, and I find myself doing minor hippie things like letting my armpit hair grow, or owning a singing saw, or sitting around half naked in a group of people who have kept all their clothes on. Maybe, even though I pretend to be a hater, I am secretly a hippie.

The day after we went to the nude beach, I asked Samantha if this was so. “We all are,” she said. “I like pooing in the woods.”

I could never be comfortable doing that.

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