When Dr. Nicholson parked his SUV in front of Donny Lopez’s home, his friend Donny—or rather, Doff de Chonez—complained that his first sally as a nudist-errant had been far too short. To which the doctor replied that while he had been happy—no, honored—to host Doff de Chonez for one night at the bed & breakfast, it was also, nonetheless, true that he would not be hosting him any longer, and that the nudist-errant needed to resupply himself with food, currency, and other necessities, and to inflate the tires on Bare Glider to a proper pressure, a matter of no small importance for such an active nudist-errant.
Doff de Chonez listened impatiently to his friend’s rationale but found that he could not protest it. For this reason, he invited Dr. Nicholson into his home, offered him some coffee and toast, and then excused himself, saying that he would look in his woodshed for the tire pump that must surely be in there somewhere.
But before Doff de Chonez, still as nude as nude can be, could step out into his yard, Dr. Nicholson inquired as to the identity of the Lady Mechinelda, about whom Doff de Chonez had spoken upon being dubbed.
“Know this, friend,” spoke Doff de Chonez, detaining himself on the threshold of the back door, “that when thou speakest her name, thou must do so with utmost reverence, for her name is as precious to me as the finest pearly white sunscreen, and more precious still, because it is upon her illustrious example that I have determined to assume an exalted position in the history of nudists-errant.”
“I see,” returned the doctor. “This is most wonderful to know. How did you… uh… meet her?”
“A meeting with my lady is an event that I much anticipate, but have yet to arrange,” replied Doff de Chonez, turning again toward the door, “I pray thee climb the stairs and spy from my bedroom window, and tell me if she is at present in her backyard, enjoying the sun on her naked body just as we all should do. Thou wilt perceive she is a most honorable paragon of the naturist ideal.”
Dr. Nicholson nodded, but as soon as Doff de Chonez had stepped into his own backyard on his way to the shed, the doctor quickly called their mutual friend, the priest, and required of him a certain urgent participation. Fortunately, the priest was able to accommodate, into his busy Wednesday ecclesiastical schedule, a quick visit to the home of Donny Lopez, as well as to provide Dr. Nicholson with the name of the neighbor, Doña Mercedes de Avelar, who had perhaps unknowingly inflamed the passion of the nudist-errant.
Within ten minutes, the priest and the doctor stood on the front porch of Doña Mercedes’ home, with solicitous demeanor but not without trepidation. After she answered their knock, and introductions were hastily made, the doctor proceeded to summarize the situation to her in the following manner: “It seems that our friend, your neighbor Mr. Lopez, may have… uh… one day seen you from his window, when you were in your backyard… uh… without any clothes on.”
“Frankly, caballeros,” spoke Doña Mercedes, not embarrassed in the least, and standing firm in her doorway, “I don’t see what the fuss is about. Con frecuencia I take a sunbath in my yard, which has a high privacy fence. If he saw me from his ventana, well, it must have been his upstairs window, and if there’s some problem, he can talk about it with me directly. En persona.”
And this, dear reader, is the moment when the doctor felt compelled to explain to Doña Mercedes the series of incredible events that you have already taken it upon yourself to read about, and hopefully, to enjoy with great moral profit, as did the neighbor, and also the priest, who, as well, heard most of this edifying narration for the first time at that point. This was so much the case that when the doctor revealed what he was proposing as a solution to the problem of Doff de Chonez’s unadvisedly persistent and public nudity, the neighbor and the priest were both highly intrigued, and promptly followed him next door to the home of Doff de Chonez.
Verifying that the nudist-errant was not present in the house, the doctor led his co-conspirators to his friend’s library, which featured many tall bookcases that, until only recently, had displayed shelf after shelf of videogames, but were now filled with books about naturism.
“¡Pa’ su mecha!” exclaimed Doña Mercedes. “He really is loco.”
“Quickly,” said the doctor, “we must begin to end his locura. I know from conversations with him that he reads incessantly on the topic of naturism. This library is the source. We must get rid of these books, or rather, redistribute them.”
“I hope,” sighed the neighbor, “that we are not too late.”
“Look here,” said the priest, “the fattest book on these shelves is The Nudist Idea, by Cec Cinder. Surely this is the source of his ideations?”
“Well it could be, padre,” said Dr. Nicholson, “for it is an exhaustively thorough account of the history of naturism, with no small focus on events here in California. And yet, it is more of a reference work, difficult to read straight through. Moreover, it is much too thick to recycle. Do you propose to burn it?”
“The days of the Inquisition,” replied the priest with a huff, “are long gone! And besides, if it is as valuable a reference as you say, then it should be preserved. In fact, perhaps I shall read it myself.”
“Rápido, pues,” said Doña Mercedes. “Let’s make four piles – one for you, padre, and one for you, doctor, and one for me, and one for recycling.”
“This is a superb idea,” said the doctor, “because if our addlepated friend questions the disappearance of his books, we can truthfully say that we are merely borrowing them in an effort to learn more about his most noble cause of naturism.”
“Exactamente,” said Doña Mercedes. “I’m taking this one, because the title looks fun: Naked at Lunch.”
“You will no doubt enjoy that one,” said the doctor, “for Mark Haskell Smith’s account of his nudist travels is highly entertaining. If it’s OK with you two, I will take this one that promises to be more academic in nature, Naked: A Cultural History of American Nudism, by Brian Hoffman.”
“Oh yes,” replied Dr. Nicholson enthusiastically, “and I will tell you, padre, that there is no finer chronicler of naturist matters than Mark Storey, philosopher and naked adventurer onto public lands. Indeed, perhaps our friend ‘Doff’ has been inspired by this writer’s, and his spouse’s, numerous articles in N magazine about naked adventuring.”
“These lower shelves here are stacked with N magazine issues,” observed Doña Mercedes. “May I take a few? I did not know there is an entire magazine about being naked outside. In fact, I thought I knew enough about that already.”
“Por favor, señora,” said the doctor, “take as many as you please, for in these wondrous pages you will learn of all kinds of matters pertaining to naturism and naturist travel, from perspectives historical, legal, artistic, philosophical, pragmatic, medicinal, and etc.”
“I’m also going to take this one,” said the neighbor, holding what looked to be a comic book.
“About that book I will clarify,” began the priest, “that although my institution, the Catholic church, is often quick to condemn nudity, I must avow that the graphic portrayal of nude characters in The Koala Bares by Stephen Crowley is most wholesome and entirely illustrative of naturist ideals.”
“Indeed,” added the doctor, “it is often said that much truth is conveyed through fiction, and it seems that we have moved into the naturist fiction section of our friend’s library, although there is much more to scrutinize than we may be able to accomplish. Here we have a brick of a novel, very recently published, called Ages of Aenya by Nick Alimonos. Have either of you read it?”
The priest and the neighbor both shook their heads. Doña Mercedes took the book in her hands and opened it, finding a bookmark. “It looks like Mr. Lopez hasn’t finished it yet.”
“May I borrow it, then?” asked the padre, to whom Doña Mercedes passed the copy. “I am a… well, maybe I should not be so hesitant to say it, but I am a sci fi and fantasy fan, and this book looks to be an example of the latter.”
“By all means, father,” said the doctor. “What I know of it, is that the heroes Xandr and Thelana refuse clothing, and though they fight all the more valiantly without it, they are nonetheless shunned by the clothed society they would save.”
“¡Por Dios!” exclaimed Doña Mercedes, who now held a different paperback open in her hands. “Este libro es muy sexy. That’s not naturism, is it?”
“Probably not,” spoke the doctor, “although, of course, a good novel might depict sex as much as any other part of life. What is the title?”
“Nude Beach X-capades,” she replied, “by Randy X. Riles.”
“I have never heard of this author,” stated Dr. Nicholson diplomatically, “and I suspect that our friend ordered the title by mistake. Let that one inaugurate our pile for the recycling center.”
“It is a most unfavorable circumstance,” began the priest, “that duplicitous people seek to exploit normal curiosity about nudity and naturism by turning it into eroticism and pornography.”
“The church could be more helpful on that account,” said Doña Mercedes, arching an eyebrow. “¿No cree Ud., padre?”
“Sí, sí, sí,” sputtered the priest, “and I do my best to encourage what we call body acceptance in my homilies. But, would you have me change an entire institution that has been going strong for centuries?”
“Change often comes slowly, this is for certain,” said the doctor, “and yet, simply reading a book can make a big difference. Just look at our friend Don! I mean… Doff! And just consider this cover, of a novel called The “Volunteer“ by D. H. Jonathan. Perhaps this woman has read something enlightening?”
“Ay, se ve muy incómoda,” opined Doña Mercedes, looking at the young woman on the cover, nude among her clothed classmates. “I don’t think that would be any fun, to be the only nude person in a huge group.”
“Please let me borrow this one, too,” said the priest, “because, although I have not read this novel yet, I know from reading about it that there is some controversy as to whether the young woman’s behavior, induced from coercion, progresses to represent true naturism.”
“Please let us know what you discover,” said the doctor. “May I also recommend, padre, since you appreciate science fiction, the first volume in this series by P. Z. Walker, Mirror Earth. It is a wonderful ‘what if’ story about how life without clothing could be.”
“Gracias,” said the priest. “I have heard of his work. It is not always easy or good to judge a book by its cover, but perhaps la señora would enjoy this series, also by P. Z. Walker, about a young woman’s enhanced experiences with her Native American past through nudity? It is called Naked Crow. What do you think, doctor?”
“Well,” replied Dr. Nicholson, “I think that Doña Mercedes can and should make her own judgments, but, that being said, yes, I have read every volume of this series, and I highly recommend it to anyone. In these books, Sheila, the Naked Crow, comes to embody the power of naturism in ways both ordinary and extraordinary.”
“This title,” chuckled Doña Mercedes, looking a little further along the shelf, “makes me laugh, because of course it’s so true: It’s Complicated: When A Man Meets A Woman.”
“Ah!” exclaimed the priest. “This is a remarkable tale by Robert G. Longpre, and I think we should place it in your pile, Doña Mercedes, but let me also say that it is the second part, a continuation of this volume next to it here on the shelf, A Small Company of Pilgrims. Together they relate the spiritual journey of a pilgrim, René Beauchemin, and the way in which his acceptance of nudity, and even social nudity, strengthens his understanding of his own life goals, and of the goals of others. An excellent story.”
“That author’s series of Naked Poetry is also quite good,” added the doctor.
“What are these last two volumes here on this shelf?” asked Doña Mercedes.
“This Forest has been for many years a great friend of mine,” said Dr. Nicholson, “and to my knowledge he has had more experience in scarcities than in volumes. But his books are not without great imagination, and surely they are most enchantingly written. I recommend the first for you, señora, for its beauty, and the second to you, padre, for its philosophy, although certainly each book has elements of both.”
“There is only one book in our recycling pile, and only one book in yours, Dr. Nicholson,” noticed the priest, “and yet here are maybe a score more works of naturist fiction by T. H. Pine, and Ted Bun, and here’s Martin Brant, and Sally Dali – is she the only woman among the bunch? and one Wallace Greensage… ”
“And here are more delivery boxes,” said the neighbor, “that he has not even opened yet. Ay caray, this man is a lunatic!”
As if she had conjured him, Doff de Chonez could suddenly be heard entering the house from the backyard, vociferating about newly inflated tires.
“Quickly now,” said the doctor, “take your books and slip out the front door! I’ll dress Mr. Chonez.”
“Address, you mean,” laughed Doña Mercedes, closing the front door behind her.