As the denudery van continued along the highway, Sammy held one finger against his lips, imploring Doff de Chonez to remain silent. But whether it was from all the excitement, or from the lack of food, or some other cause, it soon became evident that Sammy needed to release what no one could release for him, and thus their silence was abruptly punctuated by an explosive sound, followed immediately thereupon by a pervasive stench.
The driver of the van cursed loudly. The pair of nudists suffered bumps against their persons as the van swerved, corrected, and veered to the side of the road, where it jerked to a stop. The driver opened his door and walked quickly around to the back, proceeding to open the rear doors. He was met by the sight of two naked men.
“Holy shiitake mushrooms! What are you doing in my van?” yelled the driver. “And what’s that awful smell?”
Doff de Chonez merely turned to his companion and stated, “Sammy, thy flatulence is epic.”
“A stitch in time saves nine,” said Sammy, “but I tell you that cloth breeches would have stifled both sound and smell.”
“Thou speakest truth, friend,” replied Doff de Chonez, “and yet intestinal fortitude prevails over a bolt of cotton.”
“Indeed,” agreed Sammy, “and so much so, that the fortitude of my intestines would have blown a hole through…”
“Look, locos,” interrupted the driver, who was an edgy young man with many tattoos visible or partially visible on his arms, and impressively gauged ears, “there was something weird going on at the Olive Garden. It was you two, wasn’t it?”
“On the contrary,” replied Doff de Chonez, “it was a thief who had purloined the gown of my Lady Mechinelda, and I…”
“TMI, jefe,” responded the driver. “What I need to know is, like, what are you doing in my, like, van?”
“Please sir,” responded Sammy, winking broadly at the driver while jerking his head toward Doff de Chonez, “we are hoping that you don’t mind us accompanying you to your next denudery.”
“My next, like, what?” asked the driver.
“Surely, young friend,” Sammy hastened to explain, “you have some other delivery… I mean, er, denudery to make yet this evening?”
“No,” replied the driver, folding his arms. “As you can see, amigo, the back of the van is, like, nude.”
“And this is how,” interjected Doff de Chonez, “we knew it to be a denudery van. Oh, Sammy Panzov, faithful friend and valiant nudist-in-training, thou wert correct. Will wonders never cease?”
The driver looked from one man to the other, trying to decide which was the crazier. “Look, guys, I can, like, feel, like, the naked. I mean, like, I’ve been to Black’s Beach, right? But right now, like, I’m on my way to Big Sur to meet my, like, girlfriend. She works at this famous restaurant that’s, like, right on the ocean, and like super fancy. I always forget what it’s called. But anyway maybe you two crazy caballeros could, like, fit in, because, like, after the rich folks leave, the place goes to the like, hippies. It’s, like, real informal and all, and I don’t know if her manager knows, but, like, clothing, would be like totally optional.”
“Young man,” replied Doff de Chonez with an extreme solemnity not entirely unmerited, “if you could transport us to this notable hub of denudery, we would be most grateful.”
“And, perhaps,” added Sammy, “you could also share some of the chips you have in a bag I saw in the front seat.”
The driver, who asked our heroes to call him Edgar, did indeed share his chips, and some soda, and a blanket to sit on, as well as many colorful observations while listening to his companions relate their adventures—all of which are already known to you, dear reader—and driving to Big Sur.
It was past dark when they arrived at Nepenthe, for this is indeed the name of the renowned restaurant along Highway One where Edgar’s girlfriend waited tables. The last few diners were leaving as Edgar drove his van around the discreetly illuminated property to the back, near the service entrance.
|Nepenthe, a wonderful destination whose name means ‘inspired forgetfulness’|
“Truly, friends,” spoke Doff de Chonez, as he observed the hanging lights, the cozy warmth of the fire pit, and the lights far off the shore as reflected on the surface of the ocean, “a more enchanted naturist resort I have never beheld.”
“Like, did you say, a naturist resort?” chuckled Edgar. “I mean, it’s not… whatever.”
“Dost thou know, friend Edgar,” inquired Doff de Chonez, “whether the property maintains affiliation with AANR-West?”
“Like, I don’t even,” he replied in the lingo of his tribe.
“American Alliance for Naked Restaurants,” whispered Sammy, but not soft enough that Doff de Chonez did not hear him.
“It’s the American Association for Nude Recreation,” corrected Doff de Chonez, “although I propose that an alliance of naked restaurants would be most welcome and useful, especially for this lyrically lovely location.”
Advising the naked travelers to stay near the van, Edgar parked and went in search of his girlfriend. When he returned with her a few minutes later, Doff de Chonez and Sammy saw that she was a lovely young woman with long hair and a long flowing skirt, and she was unperturbed by their nudity. She introduced herself as Minerva, immediately took off her top, and began smoking something Edgar passed to her.
“Don’t be so bashful,” Minerva admonished her boyfriend. “Leave your clothes here, and let’s show these guys the lookout.”
Edgar left his clothes in the van and grabbed a flashlight. The two nudists-errant, still unaccustomed to going barefoot on any kind of surface, stepped gingerly along the forest path strewn with pebbles and roots and twigs, as they made their way down the hill toward the Pacific. Before long, they came to a clearing with a view of the ocean below them and of the restaurant back above them.
Soon there were more arrivals—other restaurant staff and their friends, and a dog—and various smoking objects were passed around, and incense was lit, and a guitar was strummed, and songs were sung, and some people lost all their clothes while others remained partially or completely dressed. Someone’s shirt ended up on the dog.
At some point, Doff de Chonez asked Sammy if he were dreaming.
Cup in hand, Sammy swept his arm grandiosely across the stars, spilling beer as he did so. “The coat of truth is often lined with illusion,” he quoted mysteriously, and, according to unanimous opinion of the historians, chroniclers, translators, editors, journalists, publishers and further specialists in the great narrative of human nature invested in the accurate preservation of this remarkable adventure, the utterance of Sammy’s proverb is the last detail that can be known for certain about the evening, with no further record until the next morning, when, as you, dear reader, will ascertain, the very participants in this adventure found themselves in search of understanding.
Long past dawn of the next day, Doff de Chonez awoke with a start. He gaped at his surroundings, blinking and trying to understand where he was. His surprise grew when he realized that what he had assumed to be a pillow was the backside of his companion Sammy. He struggled to his feet, observing that he and Sammy and some half-dozen other people in the large living room were all naked, some sleeping as was Sammy, some stirring. Presently Minerva entered the room, nude as well, and saw that he was awake.
“Want some coffee?” she asked.
“Señorita,” began Doff de Chonez, “with great pleasure I would indeed enjoy some coffee, and perhaps something to eat if such is available, but I must first pray thee reveal to me my location.”
“This is my place,” she replied. “Well… actually, it’s my ex’s new partner’s sister’s place, but she’s totally cool with it. Yeah, you were pretty knocked out last night.”
“I…,” stuttered Doff de Chonez, “I don’t know what happened. The last I can recall, there were many people dancing and singing naked under the stars, and… I swear… I danced with my Lady Mechinelda.”
“Oh!” she giggled. “I don’t know, maybe that was me? I’m pretty sure I danced with you at some point. But I’m Minerva, not Meshinella.”
“It was me!” shouted someone from the couch under the window. This person sat up—a very tall man with no hair on his head and much hair on his chest—yawned and stretched, and continued, “I don’t know what exactly you consumed, old man, but you kept blabbering at me about a clothesline and a stolen dress, and the only way I could get you to shut up was to dance around with you.”
“My sincere apologies,” said Doff de Chonez. “I was not myself.”
“It’s alright,” said the man, changing his voice to a sassy tone. “You dance divinely.”
“You had some mushrooms,” Minerva clarified to Doff de Chonez, “and, well… they took effect. I think that was it. But your friend, there – wow! He ate mushrooms, popcorn, brownies, carrots, beef jerky, chips, pretzels, peanuts, and he finished off a case of stout… and poor Tristan, I had promised him some steak scraps from the kitchen–Nepenthe has great steaks–but Sammy got to them first.”
From his spot near the door, Tristan the dog whined dejectedly. With an odd mix of amusement, respect, and disdain, everyone looked at Sammy Panzov, who was still fast asleep, face-down on a mat on the floor.
“He’ll be out for a few more hours, I expect,” said the man who had danced with Doff de Chonez. “Listen, I have a few errands to run around town, but afterwards I need to drive to the city. I’m offering to take you two with me – by that time your friend should be awake.”
“Great idea, Eric!” said Minerva. “That would be really helpful.”
“What city would that be?” asked Doff de Chonez.
“San Francisco, of course,” replied Eric. “We’re in Monterey now.”
“Can I go, too?” asked another voice from the couch, a man with a spiky fluorescent green mohawk.
“Sure thing, Jeff,” said Eric, already getting dressed. “I’ll be back in a couple hours.”
“Minerva,” asked Doff de Chonez, “I wish to inquire as to the whereabouts of our friend who drove us here.”
“Oh! You mean Edgar?” she replied. “He’s out making more de… denudies, is that it?”
“Denuderies?” suggested Doff de Chonez.
“Exactly,” continued Minerva. “He said to tell you, ‘Nice to meet you, it’s been real,’ and… what else?… oh yeah, ‘Stay naked.’”
Upon hearing these last words, Doff de Chonez dropped to his knees, bowed his head, and gave passionate voice to the following response: “This, and none other, is my great and guiding principle, and in the name of my Lady Mechinelda I so endeavor!”