Disrobing Suspense: Tom Pine

The third profile on the “Disrobing Suspense” series is Tom Pine, who has written numerous, very inventive naturist stories available on his site The Naked Truth Naturists. He has published novels, some of which are also naturist in content: The Neighbors, Father Al Takes a Vacation, and Father Al Has a Birthday Party. He has also published in Fig Leaf Forum, N, and other naturist outlets, and you can hear him interviewed by Stéphane Deschênes on the Bare Oaks podcast series.

For Tom, naturist fiction isn’t any different from other fiction in the sense that it’s important to vary formats, settings, and characters. He says, “I’m always considering possibilities that could occur in everyday life. Sometimes a character discovers being naked is the way to go all by him/herself; sometimes it’s as a protest; sometimes circumstances put him/her in a naked state; sometimes a character meets someone who lives naked and wants to know why, leading to his/her uncovering. Rather than a great ‘ta-da!’ moment, I usually try to keep it natural. After all, I’m trying to champion the cause, not shock the reader completely.”

But it’s the issue of everyday life possibilities in a naturist context that is often challenging. “The biggest hurdle, in my view, is to keep it realistic, something that could actually happen. Also, I try to keep it from being too sexy. ‘Sexy’ writing often seems puerile, silly and borderline-pornographic to me, though I never shy from accurately describing genitalia. Keeping sexual scenes on the down-low makes for a better story generally; after all, naturism isn’t about sex, per se, even though the characters in a story are sexual beings.” For instance, one of the biggest problems that Tom poses for his male characters is “dealing with their fear of ‘popping wood’ when disrobing. I’ve heard all the arguments about this rarely happening, but it sometimes does.” In his story “My Pal Sylvia,” a “coming-of-age story about two twelve-year-olds (a boy and a girl),” Tom incorporates a skinny-dipping scene in which the boy has an erection “and is shy about getting out of the lake.” The context of the scene is natural, leading to normal realizations about human bodies without being filtered through a sexual tone.

Regarding the construction of suspense around moments of disrobing, Tom agrees that “it’s essential to build tension and have that moment of epiphany in a story, or no one would wish to read it. Being naked completely is usually so far out of folks’ experience, that usually just the thought of being naked can provide tension. As a naturist, I’d like to see us all live naked all the time, so I often juxtapose the clothed character with someone who has no problem with being naked and generally lives that way. I even did one story [“Crazy Naked”] where the main character cannot physically endure wearing clothing on her body! In another [“The Naked Eye”], I had the protagonist discover a parallel dimension where the people all live naked. The possibilities are endless!”

Tom stresses that “an important element in most of my stories is the faith of the characters. Since the mission of TNTN, as I see it, is to build a bridge between naturists and Christians, I strive to show that a strong faith isn’t inimical to simple, social nudity, that the human body is NOT obscene, or disgusting, and has no sinful elements per se. I try to convey the thought that it’s what we DO, not what we ARE that causes problems.” This element of faith is present in a significant portion of Tom’s work, and is just as cherished by some readers as it is ignored by others.

In sum, Tom considers that even though “human nakedness is ‘unexplored territory,’ something so easy to do, but so difficult to imagine,” it is also true that “living naked seems so right and normal somehow—the way we should be by default and not the other way around—I sometimes feel I’ve lived naked (or should have lived naked) all my life. I guess my naturist fiction addresses that.”
Here is a sample from Tom’s story “The Mermaid of Mohasset Rock,” in which Stede, a seasoned New England fisherman, decides to explore what might be behind the stories about a sea siren. He discovers a free-spirited young woman, Alanis, living nude by the shore.

Every Sunday thereafter, Stede visited Mohassett Rock. Sometimes he’d take Alanis out in his sailboat and they’d enjoy a nice day on the water. Her unconcern over her nakedness amused him.
Sometimes, other boaters would do a double take when they noticed her nakedness, but she just waved
at them. She didn’t even bring something to cover herself. […] One fine day in early September, he and Alanis took a walk around the island. She pointed out the places where the birds nested, historical artifacts, and some interesting geological formations. It was a hot day and Stede was sweating profusely.

“Let’s go swimming,” Alanis said.

“I didn’t bring a suit,” Stede said, then realized what she meant when she just stood there with her arms akimbo. “Oh…you mean naked.”

“Of course. Don’t tell me you never skinny-dipped.”

“When I was a kid, and with Roberto, but he’s a man.”

“So just pretend I’m a man.”

“As if that’s possible.”

“Come on,” she said with a laugh. “I won’t try to jump you or anything.”

“What if I get…you know…? Weren’t you listening when I said that my faith’s very important to me?”

“And you know how I feel about that. I don’t think that one skinny-dip will get you kicked out of your church.”

“You didn’t answer my first question.”

“What, you think I don’t know about the birds and the bees? I’m a big girl. I think I can handle it.”

Stede realized his moment of truth had come.

***

“Look, I’ll go into the water first, and you can join me when you’re ready.”

Stede watched as Alanis ran down to the water and gracefully dove into the surf. He admired her self-assurance, even when naked. He wished he had her aplomb. He undressed slowly, until he was down to his boxers. He looked toward the water. Alanis was swimming around, unconcerned with looking at him. He pulled off his boxers, ran to the water, and swam out. Alanis swam toward him.

“I was wondering if you were ever going to come in,” she said.

“Well, I’m here. Now what?”

“Aw, come on. You have to admit the water feels great. It’s a beautiful day. Let’s enjoy it. Look, there’s a buoy over by that rock. Think you can make it out there?”

“I guess so.”

“Then, I’ll race you. Let’s go!”

Stede took off, stroking powerfully, but Alanis moved off like a porpoise. She certainly was at home in the water, and easily outdistanced him. She was waiting for him when he made the rock a couple of minutes later.

“You sure are clumsy in the water for a fisherman,” she quipped.

“Just because we fish, doesn’t mean we have gills and webbed feet. My first mate, Roberto, doesn’t even know how to swim.”

“Really? How come?”

“It’s a superstition thing, I guess. It goes way back. I suppose sailors would rather drown quickly if they get thrown overboard out on the sea than struggle and die slowly.”

“Sounds positively gloomy.”

“Not everyone’s a mermaid like you.”

“You say the nicest things. Come on out and join me up here. The water must be chilling you.”

“That’s all right.”

“What…you shy about me seeing you naked?”

“I told you I wasn’t up for this.”

“Look, don’t worry about it. I promise I won’t laugh or stare. Please?”

Stede considered for a moment, then hauled himself up onto the rock.

He steeled himself for the inevitable embarrassment.

***

Alanis had to admit this serious, formal fisherman was getting under her skin. He was good company and his embarrassment was endearing. She had had her fill of the self-confident, self-important studs she normally encountered—the ones who zeroed in on her obvious nakedness and thought it was prelude to a quick trip to the bedroom.

Stede was a hard-working, blue-collar kind of guy, not afraid to get dirt under his fingernails. She doubted that he had an egotistical bone in his body. She also liked the fact that he had a strong faith—and moral sense. His courtesy and politeness toward her was refreshing and flattering as well.

She watched him as he clambered onto the rock where she sat. He had a compact body, hardened by years of plain hard work. No one would accuse him of spending hours at the gym, working on a ripped physique. She doubted he looked at himself in the mirror, other than to shave.

Stede was the real deal, all right.

***

“There, that wasn’t so bad, now was it?” Alanis said.

“Maybe for you,” Stede grumbled. “I feel like I’m in a constant state of blushing. I don’t know how to move or what to do with myself. I feel so…so…exposed. How do you do it?”

“Oh, I was embarrassed at first,” Alanis said, as if picturing the scene in her mind’s eye. “My first time was as a life model in front of a class of art students. I took the job on a dare from one of my girlfriends. When I stepped in front of that class and removed my robe, I thought I’d pass out. Instead, I felt liberated. Though the students were staring at my body, I realized it was to draw me, not judge me. Soon, I could have posed on the corner of a city street. It wasn’t a big deal at all.”

“I’d have passed out for sure.”

“A big, strong guy like you? I doubt it. Come. Sit next to me. I won’t bite.”

Stede worked his way up to where Alanis sat. It occurred to him that a passing boater could see them both clearly. He looked around, prepared to jump in again if one came too close. Thankfully, no one was near them.

“You know, I really appreciate your coming to see me each week, and I also appreciate the stuff you bring. Why do you do it?”

Stede looked at Alanis. Her pretty face was inches from his. He wondered what it would be like to kiss her.

“Why? I suppose it’s because I’ve never met anyone like you. You run around naked, without a care for who sees you, yet you don’t seem…I don’t know…like that kind of woman.”

“And what does that mean exactly?”

“You don’t make it easy on a guy, do you? Well, even though you’re naked, you don’t come across as a tramp or anything.”

“That’s because I’m not. I may enjoy going naked, but it doesn’t mean I’ve thrown my morals out the window. Our society likes to judge people by how they look, when they should be looking deeper, at a person’s character. Take you, for instance.”

“What about me?”

Alanis gave Stede an appraising look. “Well, you’re reliable, polite with me, and genuinely humble. Though you were embarrassed, you stripped off to join me swimming. I think it was because you trust me.”

“So…it’s about trust then?”

“Sure. I can tell you’re not the type of guy who would suffer shame well. You have your pride. If I were to make fun of you, you’d go away and never come back. Plus, you have a solid moral core. Your religion is more than just something you do on Sunday. Am I right?”

Stede nodded, and Alanis moved her face closer. She closed her eyes, waiting…but the expected kiss never came.

A large splash in the water was her answer.

Next post: Conclusions

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