The big bell rang. Hal rounded us up and told us to get changed into swimsuits, if we were going to wear them. "You don't have to wear one. There aren't any girls around. But you can if you want to. And" - he glared around the cabin - "I don't want any teasing about wearing a bathing suit, or about not wearing a bathing suit."
Hal led us out the door and down the path to the dock. Two other cabins on our side of camp going down there, too. You could immediately tell the skinny- dippers, towels around their waists, from the modest kids, who had them draped around their necks or held in one hand. I was (atypically) the last one out. Bill was immediately in front of me - he had his towel around his waist, like me. I said, "Heh, Bill... you're gonna skinny-dip, too." He looked back at me and smiled. Bill was quiet, but his smiles said a lot.
We all crowded onto the dock, all thirty of us. There was room for no more than five or six boys to stand side-by-side. We would have to jump off in successive waves. I stood near the back of the pack, along with Phil and Tony, and we all listened (impatiently) while the WSI counselor rattled off the rules: No pushing or running on the dock, no excessive splashing of other kids' faces, no straying out past the floating dock, listen for the WSI's whistle... blah blah blah.
Two minutes, three at most. But every second was an eternity, standing there with the rules droning out and the cool deep water calling and calling me. So cool, so deep, so very filling. And the rules droned on and on, words marching out of his mouth. I wanted desperately to be swallowed. This mystery, old and new, green and blue, calls and calls me, wants me, and how can I hear the rules?
Two thousand years later, the counselor stood back and spoke his last words: "Have fun!"
Now, look: and you shall see an ordinary wonder...
Thirty boys, irregular column, four or six boys wide. First row moves up to dock's edge. Five boys are wearing swimsuits, with towels around their necks. One boy has his towel knotted around his waist. I know what that means. No swimsuit. He's going free, like me.
Hey, I recognize that boy - it's Chuck, from the bus! Chuck is a skinny- dipper, like me! Cool!
All six throw off their towels in a scattered array behind them. Six boy- butts. Five covered with various brightly-colored fabrics. And Chuck's bare boy-butt, pale white, tan lines at the waist and mid-thighs, glowing in the afternoon sun. Chuck's butt, noticeably-toned from months of soccer, muscles working cleanly as he steps forward.
Six boys curl their toes over the dock's edge, hesitate a moment, as one. And jump cleanly off, an irregular wave, shrieking, into the diamond-spangled water. Swim away from the dock in several directions, scattering to make room for the next wave.
Wave two, wave three, wave four. My eye is drawn toward those bare boy-butts, flashing as they strip off their towels and prepare to make the leap. Skinny- dippers, brave and unashamed. I see Bill's butt, I see Justin's (ohhh, there's Justin's...) My companions in nakedness, special brotherhood-within- brotherhood.
Last wave. My turn, Tony's turn, Phil's turn, some kids I haven't met yet. Two skinny-dippers in our row: a boy I don't know, down at the far right - and me. I'm on the far left of the row, Tony's right next to me, Phil to his right, a couple of other kids... and the other naked boy. We've got 'em sandwiched.
Just as the previous row leaps, I strip off my towel, turn and heave it into what is now a large rainbow heap in the dock's center. I'm the first in our group; the others follow my lead. I'm naked under the sun, above the miraculous water, next to boys, my friends, and we are young, and we are everything, we are NOW.
We're stepping into place at the edge. I look over at Tony, grinning. Tony is looking over at me; but he's not looking at my eyes. He's checking me out. A half-second later, he notices I'm looking, meets my eyes... and grins back. He's not embarrassed that I caught him looking at my weenie. Cool.
I look down at myself as we line up, in that moment that lasts forever, and
curl our toes over the rough weather-worn gray wood. My knees, bent. My
thighs, muscled (like Chuck's) from the season. My hands at my sides, tense
with the moment. My tan lines. My ribs. My nipples, stiff. My testicles, drawn
up, and my penis, sticking out in the slight chill of exposure. It's okay,
that way, it's more than okay, it's good, it feels good, so alive, so
And that's my last thought, the time is
NOW. We shriek, we leap, we twist, we fall.
That icy-shock hits and slides over me from toe to head
as I enter, so fast there's not time to gasp. And
now, right NOW, I'm sinking, I'm seeing
green, my eyes are full of green wonderlight, my heart is full of joy, I'm swallowed,
I've returned to the home I once knew, naked as I should be, young, boy, and
I am so full of joy, joy, joy...