26 Jul Day 21: Toronto Islands exposure
“Melanie, you should really go to the Toronto Islands. It’s a slice of paradise. You’d love them.” I have been hearing this for almost two years since I moved to Toronto, and since the arrival of the summer, I’ve heard it almost daily. Alright everyone, shush the yap trap. I’m going!
So, because my time on the islands was really split into two experiences: my impressions of this amazing bohemian natural oasis just a few minutes from downtown Toronto, and my experience of going to my first nude beach, I will write two entries. Which do you want to hear about first? haha. Thought so. Nude it is! Ok, but first a bit of background, so you’ll just have to wait before you hear about my nervous public disrobing. And, don’t expect photos. Well, of me that is.
Hanlan’s Point beach is only the second official clothing optional beach in Canada; the other is Wreck Beach in Vancouver. In 1999, the city initiated a year pilot project for a clothing optional beach; since it was so popular, they renewed for two years and then made it permanent in 2002. The other amazing thing about this place is the water quality; the southwest facing beach means you aren’t facing the mainland, which is often exposed to more pollutants, of course. This beach actually has a Blue Flag designation meaning water quality is checked daily.
One thing to keep in mind: it’s a Tuesday afternoon. “During the weekend there are families and more variety of people,” says P, who has been here a couple of times. Walking down to the beach front, straight ahead: a man bending over his boat. Yup, bare ass and balls. Stepping onto the beach, I see full frontal beans and frank. I start to giggle. What am I five? It’s a naked body for bleeping sake. But, it’s also a nervous giggle because soon I’ll be whipping off the skirt and top–just sitting there, naked as the day I was born for all to see.
I can do this. “You ready?” asks P. Sitting on the towel, it’s not too hard to remove the top and bra. Deep breathe. Then, lift up the arse and swoop the skirt off. There. Nothing to it. “Ready for a swim?” No.
We sit. And then we sit some more. I cannot muster the nerve to walk 10 meters into the water. But eventually, when I cannot manage the heat any more, we get up, sans clothes. P walks ahead and I follow, head down a little. I dive in quickly –the cold clean water feels amazing. Rejuvenating. P throws his arms around me. “You did it.” Isn’t it amazing to experience something new with someone? I think so.
Walking back to the towel, it’s now time to take in everyone else around me, and not everyone is naked. Flipping onto my stomach, the sun feels so good on my snow white ass. I look up to see a young gay man in a tight shorts dancing to Rhythm is a Dancer; for this youngin’ the song is still new and fun to him. Next to us, a 40-something woman reads her book dressed in a very modest one piece bathing suit ; her lips are painted bright red. Another grey haired guy is wearing nothing but a Tilly Endurables hat walks with his hands behind his back while strolling along. A ghost white man and woman are the 2000’s version of Yoko and John and between the two of them they can’t weigh more than 100 pounds wet. And then we spot him, that guy. Thong man.
Rubbing oil on his butt, while talking to a young girl, his white thong stands out on his tanned skin like dentures on a smilling squirrel.
As the afternoon progresses, P and dip in and out of the lake, it gets easier and easier to feel comfortable. Soon, we’re both so facinated with thong man that I don’t even notice that I might be burning my wobbly bits.
Thong man is in the middle of a girlie entourage. Casting back his arm, he’s teaching one how to throw a football. Then, an old dude in a Hawaiian shirt walks by asking for a picture. Thong man flexes his biceps for the picture and wraps his arm around Hawaiian shirt man.
Hawaiiian shirt man is wearing white socks and sandles and a sailor hat.
Back in the water to cool down, it feels like Toronto is a million miles away—naked here feels good. It feels right. Everyone should try this.
Walking back to the towel, we notice that Thong man has made new friends. He grabs his cooler of booze and walks over to a group of other body builders, to which they all begin taking butt photos, and then, impressively, one of the girls throws thong man around her shoulders like a sheppard does to his wounded lamb. Then, she starts to squat: she’s bench pressing Thong man.
When he’s free, you can tell the booze is kicking in as we learn about the life and times of Thong man. “I’m moving to BC in two weeks to go back to school—Simon Fraser.” He says it so loud that bathers can’t help but look at him; he likes this. He wants this. “Wait a minute, did Thong man change his thong? Wasn’t he wearing a white one before?” says P.
Yes P, you’re right, Thong man is now wearing a bright orange strap of material over his beans and frank. But not everyone we see is here in the right spirit of naked bathing.
Earlier in the day I recall seeing an overdressed couple taking pictures of nude bathers. Later in the day, we notice a trio of guys on jet skis circulating and oogling the bathers.
Wow, not classy. If you don’t want to be naked, fine, but for God sakes have some decency, please.
We’ve been here for over three hours and couldn’t have asked for better entertainment than Thong man. And, slipping my clothes back on, I realize how nice it feels to have sun on all of your skin, to sit next to someone who also appreaciates your nakedness, and to be around others who are just open to a new experience. Wobbly bits and all.