“Anatomy to Zoology” expands the Co-ed Naked Philosophy universe with a story about some of the same characters from the novel. The main characters in this story are Greg González, Daphne Baldwin, and her toddler son Adam. Daphne and Greg are students at Gulf Coast University.
I wrote “Anatomy and Zoology” for Tom Pine’s password-controlled site, TNTN (The Naked Truth Naturists). Tom is a prolific writer of naturist and other fiction, and he produces a monthly newsletter that’s always a great read. I reproduce the story here with Tom’s permission.
Anatomy to Zoology
“See, I told you I was bringing you to a naturist park, and you didn’t believe me. Just look around!”
There were naked bodies everywhere: naturists to the left taking a nap in the sun, naturists to the right calmly standing around eating, and still more naturists hopping up a hill further along the path. Nimble nudists were shamelessly swinging along a rope bridge. Gracefully buoyant skinny-dippers swam in a glass-enclosed tank.
Greg laughed. “I don’t know, Daph, are you sure about this? It’s not like we’re getting extra credit.”
“Would I have brought Adam if I weren’t? No second thoughts. We’re almost there.”
Greg adjusted the large-frame backpack on his shoulders. Adam had been enthusiastically pointing out the tigers, wildebeests, and wallabies, the spider monkeys and the polar bears, as they walked along the path. Now the bright pink naturists asleep on one leg had caught his attention.
It was so early that Greg, Daphne, and Adam almost had the zoo to themselves. Daphne led the way to a small yard between the Tropical Rainforest building and the east end of the row of bear habitats. She set down her large plastic bag. Greg let down the wheeled ice chest he had been pulling, eased the pack off his back, and started unbuttoning his shorts.
“Not yet!” whispered Daphne.
“Oh. OK, sorry. You don’t have to whisper, you know.”
“Right. I just really want this to work. Element of surprise, and all that. Let’s stay in costume until we’re set up, because there are already some other people around.”
“You know what I mean, Mr. Smarty-shorts.”
“Your wish is my command.” Greg opened the pack and pulled out fifteen yards of cheap plastic fencing, three feet high. Daphne helped him unroll the white fencing and set it up in a circle not far from the footpath. Adam began pulling out the books and toys from his small pack.
Once they had set up their little picket fence, Daphne and Greg got out their canvas folding chairs, towels, sunscreen, and the little brochures Daphne had designed and printed. Then Daphne unveiled the sign that she had carried inside the plastic bag. They pushed the tapered bottom of the signpost into the ground just outside the fenced-in circle.
“Well, I guess we’re ready.”
Daphne kissed Greg quickly on the cheek. “Thanks,” she said, and then she pulled her blouse over her head. They both disrobed and stored their clothes in the big pack. Adam saw them and undressed as well. Daphne spread the towels over their chairs, and the three of them sat down.
Adam began reading his comic-book style Stories from the Bible. Daphne fidgeted, flipping her hands up and down along the ends of the armrests. Greg studied the brochures about their newly formed student group at Gulf Coast University. He and Daphne, and a half-dozen other students in a couple of groundbreaking clothesfree courses in philosophy and pedagogy at the university, were the founding members of the CRM, a nudist activist group. Daphne had been elected president of the group.
He looked at the logo, on the brochure, that his artist friend Terrence had designed: the words CORPORAL RIGHTS MOVEMENT in green lettering below the stylized black silhouettes of a man and woman, facing each other and with arms raised toward a yellow sun in the center of the banner. The silhouettes were not obviously nude, yet a certain fullness of breast, buttock and groin did suggest, for those willing to recognize it, a lack of textile constraints. Below the logo was the group slogan: RECLAIM THE IMAGE! The inner pages of the threefold brochures listed group goals and activities and gave contact information to get involved.
Out of the corner of his eye, Greg saw a man and woman approaching with a stroller. The man was pointing just past them, so Greg turned his head to see that the spectacled bear had come out of her enclosure to get some sun. The couple had not yet perceived the nudity of the three people sitting inside the makeshift exhibit, but with every step they came closer to that inevitable realization. Daphne had seen them too. She squeezed Greg’s arm.
Then they heard a brief dialogue, although it was spoken as if they could not hear.
“Look, honey – these people are naked.”
“What’s that all about, huh?”
And the couple kept right on walking.
Daphne stared at Greg, her mouth open. Greg just smiled, amused, and Adam hadn’t looked up from his book.
“Alright, we’re going to have to be more proactive,” said Daphne. “Where’s that frisbee?”
Soon the three of them had folded up the chairs and were lightly tossing the bright blue disk back and forth, when a woman in her sixties, wearing a purple ZOO VOLUNTEER t-shirt, came along the path.
“Good morning,” called out Daphne.
“Yes, good morning,” replied the volunteer, stopping near the mini-fence. “What an interesting Friday morning it is, here at the zoo.”
Greg caught the Frisbee and approached the woman. “Looks like it’s going to be a beautiful day. Do you like our sign?”
“Sign? I hadn’t really noticed a sign. Here, let me read it,” she said, and lifted her glasses hanging from their neckstrap.
Greg raised his eyebrows at Daphne, who bit her lip and shrugged.
Designed to match the format, font, and coloring of the zoo signage, this sign read:
Homo sapiens (Class: Mammals. Order: Primates.)
Diet omnivorous, preference for sugar and fat
Habitat urban, rural, houses, apartments, trailers, many kinds of living arrangements
Distribution Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, North and South America, Antarctica, outer space
Other More often than not, humans learn to be unnecessarily ashamed of their bodies and to cover them from sight. The humans you see here have embraced their natural state without shame. Won’t you join them?
When she had finished reading, the volunteer lowered her glasses. “Why, this is all very clever indeed!”
“Oh, yes,” blurted Daphne, “then here, you need to see our brochure…”
“But I’ll have to report you to the administration. It certainly won’t do for us to receive complaints, with our visitors assuming that we condone your actions.”
“Ma’am, we’re not doing any harm, and…”
“Now, don’t be nervous, young man. I’m going to see to it that you are treated properly.” The volunteer looked Greg straight in the eyes, and then Daphne, and gave a big wink. Then she started to walk away, but turned back with a smile.
“Oh yes, and how old is that child?”
“That’s my son Adam,” said Daphne. “He’s four.”
“Thank you,” said the volunteer. Then she left.
“What…? What is she going to do?”
“She’s going to the office, I imagine,” said Daphne. “Nothing we didn’t expect. It just means we don’t have much time.”
“She acted strangely, and I didn’t really understand what she meant,” said Greg.
“I don’t know, but let’s do what we can before she comes back. Here come some more people.”
“Before we’re escorted out of the zoo in handcuffs.” Greg backed up a few paces and sent the Frisbee flying gently toward Daphne.
“Over here! Toss me the Frisbee!”
Daphne turned to see a middle-school-age boy calling to her, arms outstretched. She threw him the disk.
He caught it and celebrated, pointing at her and shouting to a few other boys, “That naked lady threw me her Frisbee!”
Then Daphne realized that the boy and his friends wore school uniforms, and that they had hung back from the rest of their class, marching off the other way on their field day excursion.
“Here!” shouted Greg. “Send it to me!”
The boy clutched the Frisbee to his chest and yelled, “Come get it!”
Greg had hopped over the fence and was speeding toward the boys before Daphne could yell, “Let him keep it! It doesn’t matter! Greg…!”And then she saw the backside of her son, toddling away from her at top speed after Greg. “Adam! Greg, Adam is following you!”
Daphne wanted to run too, but she knew Greg would look after Adam, who followed him around with increasing frequency, she noticed. She decided to stay with their exhibit.
Fortunately, Greg’s quick action had kept the stunned schoolboys from getting very far. They obviously hadn’t expected to be chased. As gently as he could, Greg detained the Frisbee thief by the forearm. The other boys kept running back to the rest of their classmates.
The boy dropped his prize, staring at Greg’s penis. Then he moved his eyes up to look at Greg’s face, and asked, “Why are you naked?”
Just as he opened his mouth to answer, Greg felt the collision of something warm and sticky against his right calf. It was Adam, who had run into him full on and was now clinging to his leg, hiding behind it but peering out at the schoolboy.
“He’s naked too?” asked the boy.
“There’s nothing wrong with being naked,” Greg began.
“My mom and dad say you can’t be naked unless you’re taking a bath.”
“What happens,” asked Greg, “if you’re naked, but you’re not taking a bath?”
“I don’t know,” said the boy. “Something bad.”
Adam’s eyes started to tear up. “I’m not doing anything bad!”
Greg looked at the schoolboy. “What’s your name?”
“Do you think we’re doing anything bad, Jeff?”
Adam was still clutching Greg’s calf with one hand, but his other hand had reached out to feel the fabric of the boy’s forest green school uniform shirt, which had come untucked and hung down almost to his knees.
“No,” said the boy, surprised by his own conclusion. “I sure wish I didn’t have to wear this sweaty uniform.”
“It’s alright,” said Greg, “you’d better get back to your classmates for now. But if you don’t feel like wearing clothes sometimes, like when you’re at home or maybe if you have a fenced-in yard, then take ‘em off. Who needs ‘em? There’s nothing bad about being naked. Live free.”
“Bye,” said the boy, not knowing what else to say, but before he could leave, Greg gave him the Frisbee.
“Keep it, Jeff, so you can remember meeting us.”
The boy smiled. “Thanks!” Then he was gone, running to catch up with his group. Greg picked up Adam and set him on his shoulders for the stroll back to their exhibit.
They found Daphne speaking with a young woman in jogging clothes, someone who actually wanted to know more about the CRM.
“… and so we organized a nude bake sale, which worked out really well, because it’s so tame, see? But a car wash, that just would have been way over the top. And this is my friend Greg, and my son Adam.”
“Nice to meet you.” The woman offered her hand and seemed, if not quite astonished, certainly intrigued that this nude man would show himself unashamedly to a clothed woman.
“But, so what you’re doing here today – is this official? I mean, did you tell the zoo people?”
“Well, no,” replied Daphne, “but we’ve already been seen by a zoo volunteer. What we’re doing is more like civil disobedience, you know, like Thoreau? A nudist himself, I should add. It just is not fair that our society sets up laws that confuse simple nudity with sexual offense. And the church often leads people to conflate the two, as well.”
“I see,” said the woman, looking around worriedly. “I don’t want to be arrested. But I’ll email the address on your brochure here to get more details. Thanks!” Flustered, she obviously wanted to hurry away, but she also wanted to shake their hands again, and couldn’t resist commenting “What a cute boy.”
As the woman walked away, Daphne fumed. “I’m not sure whether she meant Adam or you.”
“She’s not my type,” said Greg, draping his arm along Daphne’s shoulders. He kissed her cheek. “Do you know what time it is?”
Daphne fetched her cell phone. “It’s 11:00. I’m surprised we haven’t been escorted out of the park by this point.”
“Yeah, because they’ll be here soon.”
“No,” said Greg. “Don’t you remember?”
“Oh – that’s right. This should be interesting.”
Adam had opened the ice chest to retrieve a juice box. While Daphne helped her son find a bag of cheese and crackers, Greg picked up Adam’s Stories from the Bible comic book and began paging through the creation story.
“Look at this, Daphne – how many times has the creation story been illustrated? In the scenes that take place before the serpent, they always show Adam and Eve among all the animals, but there’s always, you know, a strategically placed fern or lamb or whatever to hide breasts and genitals. Unfortunately, this book of Adam’s is no exception.”
“You’re right,” she said. “That could make for some mixed messages, huh? It’s such a beautiful story, and the animal pictures remind me of being here at the zoo!”
“Uhhm… Daphne? Why was it exactly that you named your son Adam? Was that his dad’s name?”
“No, no, that wasn’t his name, and I really don’t want to talk about him. I’m the one who chose ‘Adam,’ because I like it, but also because of the idea of a new beginning.”
“I like it too. And I like being here with you today.”
A group of middle-aged folks walked by, stiflingly dressed, scowling and shaking their heads at the three nudists.
Daphne smiled broadly at them, and asked her partner, “Come what may?”
“Come what may,” said Greg.
Daphne gave him a bottle of water and a kiss.
People were beginning to crowd the zoo, so much so that at times, the “Human” exhibit simply couldn’t be seen from anywhere except the path directly in front. Soon a group of three young mothers with their baby strollers passed by and stopped for information. Daphne assured the women that breastfeeding in public is legal and perfectly natural.
“Like our sign says, we humans are mammals, after all. That means we nurse our young with our mammary glands.”
One of the young mothers pondered this for a moment. “I wonder if ‘mama’—you know, what babies call us—is related to the word ‘mammal’?”
“I think it is,” Greg said, “and it’s similar in so many languages, with that ‘ma’ sound.”
“Right,” added Daphne, “the ‘ma’ sound is what happens when the baby vocalizes while making the sucking motion with his lips! How cool is that?”
The young women were very impressed with Adam, “so well behaved,” they said. Adam had wandered over to inspect the one baby of the three who was awake.
“I’m not a baby,” Adam declared.
“It wasn’t all that long ago you were!” laughed Daphne. The women began talking about post-pregnancy fitness while Greg and Adam sat down to read the story of Noah’s ark. When next Greg looked up, one of the young mothers had taken a seat inside the enclosure and was breastfeeding her baby.
She saw that Greg had glanced at her. “I hope you don’t mind. I feel safe in here. Silly, huh?”
“Of course I don’t mind. Thanks for joining us.”
“My name is Kelly, by the way.”
“I’m Greg, and this is Adam … oh, you already know his name.”
“Do you read to your son a lot?”
“Well… he’s not my son. But I’m dating Daphne, so I feel as if he could be! Yeah, we read and play ball and color and watch movies plenty, I guess.”
“Always in the nude?”
“As much as possible!”
Kelly stroked her baby’s forehead. “I think you guys are doing something awesome here, I really do. It feels so good to have the sun on my chest while breastfeeding! I’m just going to move the chair a little to keep the sun out of her little eyes…”
“Sun on skin is great for vitamins, too,” said Greg, “although your baby’s got all she needs in your milk, I imagine.”
One of the other young mothers, holding her baby, stepped over the fence gingerly. “Can I join you?”
“Of course,” said Greg. “We should have thought to bring more chairs when we packed…”
Approaching shouts interrupted.
“Yeah –look, they’re over here!”
“Oh my gosh! They really are naked!”
The fence perimeter was suddenly rimmed by a dozen teenagers, gaping at the humans with exactly the same posture and gestures employed for gawking at the chimpanzees or the dolphins, but with even greater fascination.
“My mom didn’t do that for me! I was bottle fed.”
“I’ve never seen my mom naked, but I don’t think her hoochie looks like that.”
“My mom shaves hers.”
“Man, it sure was worth it to cut class today!”
“My dad doesn’t let anybody see him nekkid. Maybe he has a small weenie.”
Daphne and Greg were staring at each other. Kelly was blushing but resisting the impulse to cover up or turn around. Her friend put her arm around Kelly, and exposed her left breast to her baby, in solidarity.
“Does that guy have a small one? I think they get bigger than that.”
“Alright!” cut in Greg. “Time out already! We’re human and we speak English. You may have cut class today but you’re obviously getting an anatomy lesson. Why don’t you try asking us some questions?”
“OK,” said a young man, “why are you naked?”
“You’re not supposed to be here, are you?” asked somebody else.
“One at a time,” said Daphne. “Look, we’re naked because we prefer to be. Think about it: it’s a beautiful day today. I’m getting tanned all over, and if I sweat, it’s gone in the breeze. You guys, on the other hand, are standing around getting redneck tans, or spaghetti-strap tans, and probably doing some pretty heavy sweating, not just under your arms but between your legs as well.”
“Gross,” somebody muttered.
“And all those comments you were making?” Daphne continued. “You all don’t even know what human bodies look like, or what they can look like. We founded the Corporal Rights Movement because we all have the right to know about our bodies. And we should have the right to go nude if we choose. I’d say that a big part of the answer to your question is that we are naked here today, for you. So that you can learn your anatomy.”
“Aren’t you afraid?”
Greg opened his mouth to speak but said nothing, surprised, when he heard Kelly start speaking. “I was afraid when you all came up here and started shouting and pointing. That’s not very nice!”
Kelly had been looking at the grass but she raised her eyes now to look at the group. “And I had to fight off being ashamed – you guys don’t even know that I just stepped in here a few minutes ago. And my friend Michelle, she’s here for me too. But Daphne, and Greg here, and their son Adam, are the ones who set this up, for you and for me and for everybody. And I agree with Daphne – you all seriously need a basic body education.”
One of the young men, sporting a starter mustache, spoke up. “We knew all that stuff, we were just kidding.”
“Yeah, right!?” said the young woman next to him. “I asked you the other day if you were circumcised, and you had no idea what I was talking about.”
“Busted!” sang out another youth.
“Circumcision, that’s when they snip off the tip of your willie, right?” said another young woman. “That’s gotta hurt.”
“You don’t have to be afraid to say ‘penis’ and ‘foreskin,’” said Greg.
A trio of slightly older youths, wearing white Gulf Coast University t-shirts, had come to stand behind the teen group. “I’m circumcised, like you and the boy are,” said one of the university students, who took a sip from a huge zoo souvenir cup. “But Alex, here, he isn’t.”
“How do you know that about Alex,” asked the female student.
“I saw him in the locker room.”
“You looked at his penis?”
“Now don’t get going that way. There’s nothing wrong with looking at people, you know, you get a general idea of height, weight, hair color, eye color…”
“Yeah, it’s nothing like what you’re thinking, Renee,” said Alex.
Renee laughed, noticing that they had successfully captured the attention of the group around them, which had expanded to include zoo visitors of different age groups. “I’m just teasing, Terrence, you don’t have to get all defensive.” She took a step away from the group and pulled Terrence with her. “Pass me the Coke, please.”
Terrence held out the large, open cup, but Alex bumped his arm, and the Coke flew up in the air like a fountain, drenching both Renee and Terrence and splashing some of the bystanders as well.
Renee stood with her eyes closed and her arms outstretched, the outline of her breasts now visible through the soaked fabric. She blew soda from her lips and then started laughing.
“I’m sorry, baby,” said Terrence.
“That felt good!” yelled Renee. “Oh, that felt good.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” laughed Terrence, “but now we’re all wet and sticky.”
Renee looked at Terrence, and then at the humans in their fenced exhibit. A few laughing teenagers fell silent.
Terrence smiled. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking, baby?”
“C’mon!” The two of them grabbed hands and hopped over the mini-fence, where they threw off their clothes with haste, with fury almost, onto the ground, and then jumped up and down on top of them. The bystanders, now about twenty strong, were applauding, and the other nudists were cheering encouragement.
Alex had moved into the crowd. He looked around, making sure other people heard his comments like, “That must feel awesome,” and “I wish I could do that.” Then he started bouncing on his toes and breathing heavily, aware he was being watched by the group.
Finally he shouted, “Me too!” and jostled his way through the amazed bystanders, deliberately brushing past other bodies and holding on to as many shoulders as he could. He jumped the fence, aware of the sound of cheering, and got out of his clothes as quickly as his friends had, because what they were doing wasn’t supposed to be a burlesque show.
He felt the usual surge of satisfaction at being nude, but it was heightened, very much so, by the evidence that their efforts had been successful: four more people were quickly disrobing inside the fence: two of the teenage girls who had been asking questions, and a middle-aged couple who had joined the group later. There were now twelve nude or topless Homo sapiens at the zoo, fourteen counting the diaper-clad babies! And they presented a glorious spectrum of color along the contours of their skin, from lustrous ebony to café con leche to freckled alabaster, and hair from blonde to red to brunette to black and even one hot pink-streaked bob.
Amid all the euphoria, the middle-aged man leaned over to Alex and spoke confidentially. “That was one enthusiastic push you gave your friend’s arm, there!”
Alex smiled sheepishly. “It was that obvious, huh?”
“To my wife and me it was, but you sure pulled off a stunt with these younger folk!”
And even as he spoke, two of the teenage boys could no longer resist the taunts of their nude girlfriends inside the enclosure, and hopped in also, although their undressing was a more reluctant affair. But then one of their buddies felt he had to join them, and that, in turn, was the sign for someone else, which was the number somebody else was waiting for, and it went on like this until within five minutes there were twenty-three nudists, counting all three babies now. They barely fit inside the fence anymore.
Greg fished some cash out of the pack and handed it to one of the teenagers still outside the fence. “Go get as many bottles of cold water as this will buy, will you please? Quick!”
The youth clutched the bills and ran off to the concession stand. By the time he returned, he had to struggle through a throng of people, mostly clothed, but some nude outside the enclosure now as well, extending over toward the spectacled bear habitat. He delivered a dozen bottles to Greg, and then, now that he had been included in the conspiracy, so to speak, and justifying to himself that he was indeed very sweaty from running back and forth, he peeled off his clothes, too.
Greg distributed the water bottles. He and Daphne had lost count of the nudists and long since run out of CRM brochures, but they were immensely pleased, and thanked Renee, Terrence, and Alex for their parts in the role-playing. There was an overall buzz of discoveries being made, alliances being forged, wondrous possibilities acknowledged.
Daphne suddenly panicked because she couldn’t see Adam, but then she found him looking through Stories from the Bible with a toddler girl who had crawled through the fence and taken of her shoes. And that was when she spotted the purple ZOO VOLUNTEER t-shirt of their returning mystery woman.
Daphne pointed her out to Greg. She was walking along the path alone, holding an enormous bunch of souvenir helium balloons, and carrying a bag at her side. As she entered the crowd, she began handing out balloons to those people who had undressed, and as she got closer to the improvised enclosure, Daphne could hear her saying, “Thanks for participating! Here’s a souvenir. Security will be here soon, so please get dressed and move along.”
And it was working. Folks were putting their clothes back on, and the crowd was breaking up, although not willingly. Somebody quickly improvised a sign-up sheet for CRM information, and a few people were exchanging contact information.
Not wanting it to end, Daphne looked around with a bittersweet resignation. Before long, other than Greg, Adam, and their fellow CRMers Alex, Terrence, and Renee, only Kelly, Michelle, their babies, and the middle-aged couple remained with Daphne in the enclosure to confront the zoo volunteer.
Daphne stood with her arms akimbo. “You broke up our happening here.”
“I’m afraid so,” replied the volunteer. “As I said, security people are on the way, and…”
“I understand that you had to tell them,” interrupted Daphne, “I just wish…”
“You don’t understand. What I told them was that…”
“It’s OK,” said Daphne, mad at this woman even though she had known that sooner or later something like this would happen to end their experiment in nude civil disobedience. “You were just doing your part.”
The volunteer cleared her throat. “What I told security was that there had been a disturbance at the elephant house, which is the part of the zoo that’s farthest away from here.”
Greg looked at Daphne. “I still don’t get it.”
“I wanted to keep security away from you as long as possible. But I knew it was just a matter of time before they would find out from someone else. As soon as I heard the complaint registered on the internal PA system, that’s when I came over with the balloons.”
“You were trying to help us?” asked Greg. “You said this morning that the zoo wouldn’t condone our activities…”
“Listen, I wouldn’t consider myself a nudist, but I support your idea. It was a clever success today! In my opinion, your nudity is no offense. Nor is it illegal, as far as I can understand the law’s phrase ‘lewd intent.’”
“Right,” said Daphne, “we know all about the local, state, and federal laws, but we also know that someone could try to argue a case for ‘lewd intent.’”
“As you can see, I’m only a volunteer. I’m not even paid to work here. But my heart is here, I love the zoo, and for many years I practiced as an attorney. I know how much of a headache it would be for the zoo to have to defend against a lawsuit alleging they tolerated your presence here. Plus, an adverse court decision might be subject to an interpretation that would allow any kind of group, nude or not, to come set up shop on our grounds and give out brochures or sell trinkets or something similar.”
Daphne looked past the woman. “I think I see security coming now, down the hill back by the tigers. Do they use a blue and white jeep?”
“Quick, put your clothes on! I’ll take down the fence. If you’re all dressed by the time they get here, we can make something up…”
Kelly and Michelle covered up the quickest, while most of the others struggled with snaps and buttons, and Adam did not appreciate the need for haste, not even after his mother explained that it was a game they were all playing: who could dress the fastest. Besides, Adam saw that Renee and Terrence balked at putting on their wet clothes.
“Oh, I almost forgot,” said the zoo volunteer, stashing the Homo sapiens sign in its plastic bag. “Here.”
From a paper bag she produced two adult medium zoo t-shirts for Renee and Terrence, and one size 4T for Adam.
Renee’s eyes widened. “How did you know?”
“I was in the snack shop when you all went in there to buy that large drink, and I heard you planning your little ‘accident.’ It must have worked!” As she spoke, she also removed a camera from her bag.
Terrence grinned. “It sure did, huh, guys?”
“Thank you!” beamed Renee.
“And that’s why you asked how old Adam is…” Daphne began.
“Look, mom, there’s a tiger on this shirt!” Adam had now embraced the idea of getting dressed.
“I don’t know what to say,” began Daphne. “Thank you.”
“Think nothing of it,” the volunteer replied, just as the jeep parked nearby and two security officers approached the hastily but completely dressed group.
“Good afternoon, folks! What’s going on?” asked one of the officers.
“Hi, Jim,” said the zoo volunteer, “is there a problem?”
“Hello, Cheryl. We received a complaint about indecent exposure. Something about a crowd of naked people.”
“What?!” Cheryl gave her best shot at feigning astonishment. “I don’t see any naked people, do you? These folks are bare enthusiasts, gathering here for a photo with the spectacled bear. We’ve just finished our discussion about bares.”
Jim smirked. “Did you say, ‘bear enthusiasts’”?
“That’s right,” said Alex, speaking for the group. “Bare enthusiasts.”
“Oh, I know what must have happened,” said Cheryl, grabbing Jim’s shoulder. “It’s like that game, Jim.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You know, the broken telephone game, when you whisper a message from ear to ear and by the time you get to the end, the message has changed?”
Jim harrumphed. “I don’t understand what this is all about.”
Cheryl appeared to be highly disappointed by Jim’s lack of understanding. “Well, don’t you see? Someone must have heard about the enthusiasts, and understood ‘bare’ to mean naked, not ‘bear’ the animal, and then the word spread, and of course people always exaggerate, and so by the time the word reached you, there was a whole crowd of naked people.”
Jim raised his eyebrows. “Are you saying there was a crowd of naked people?”
“Isn’t that what you heard?”
“Yes, that’s why we came.”
“See! I was right! Just like the broken telephone.”
Exasperated, Jim turned to his security partner. “Let’s move along. We’ve got other fish to fry.”
“Thanks for checking up on us, gentlemen,” called Cheryl cheerily. She turned to the group of bare enthusiasts. “Now, if you all will just line up here near this flower bed, I think I can get the spectacled bear in the picture. Quickly, before she moves!”
The photo Cheryl took displayed ten smiles of genuine gratitude and appreciative astonishment.
One month later
It was after closing time on a lovely late spring evening at the zoo, and the rays of the setting sun seemed to have detached themselves exuberantly from the western horizon to entertain the spectators seated in the open-air amphitheater, its palette of rainbow sherbet colors flashing from the luminous plumage of the toucans, macaws, and parakeets of the tropical bird show. And the colors shone even more brightly from the lack of competition: there were no floral print dresses, Hawaiian shirts, or loud neckties among the crowd. Around 150 people had doffed their duds and congregated for a “Nature for Naturists” fundraiser at $50 a ticket!
The curator of birds and her assistant had enthusiastically agreed to perform their usual shtick in the nude for this special occasion. Other than their microphones, they wore only long bands to protect their arms from the talons. The only clothed people in sight were the caterers, but even they, over their usual black-and-whites, sported novelty aprons featuring the torsos of Michelangelo’s David and Botticelli’s Venus.
When the bird show applause ended, the Zoo Friends president took the stage with Daphne to jointly announce the total dollar amount raised that evening, to be split between the new Free Flight Aviary at the park, and the Corporal Rights Movement’s new social outreach program. Then Daphne introduced professors Christopher Ross and Angela Saucedo, of Gulf Coast University, who spoke briefly about their innovative courses featuring clothesfree classrooms and body-centered pedagogy, and sang the praises of Daphne and Greg and the rest of the CRM group for their initiatives.
Then the naturists moved inside a large tent for dinner. Daphne had planted the “Human” exhibit sign just outside the tent entrance. During dinner, Greg toasted the members of a nearby naturist park, many of whom were present, for their support not just in attendance but also for helping spread the word about the event. And Daphne presented Cheryl with a fresh bouquet, thanking her as “the savvy volunteer who saved our naked hides that day, and proposed that we bring them back here tonight instead! She has helped us introduce nude innovation to the traditional evening-at-the-zoo fundraising format.”
Lights began to illuminate the zoo pathways as Cheryl stood to announce a twilight tour of the zoo on their way back across the park to the changing and storage rooms that had been set up by the exit. The nudists rose reluctantly from their tables under the tent and began filing out into the dusk.
As they passed the spider monkeys swinging on their rope bridge, Adam said, “Mommy.”
“Mommy, I want to tell you that I like being naked like the animals.”
“I do too, honey.”
Adam yawned, and Greg scooped him up to carry him on his right arm. Then he placed his left arm along Daphne’s shoulders. “Me too.”
Adam was drooling blissfully on Greg’s shoulder by the time they reached the exit. Daphne managed to dress him without waking him.
Greg said goodnight to Dr. Ross and then whispered to Daphne. “I forgot: we have Ross’s class tomorrow! Did you read the assignment?”
“I asked him about that at dinner,” said Daphne, “and he said not to worry about it, he’d rather have us present to the class about the event tonight.”
“Great! See you tomorrow, Daph.” Greg kissed her cheek.
Cheryl stopped Greg as he walked away. “Marry her already. And if you want a romantic nude evening at the zoo to propose, just give me a few days notice, alright?”
Greg laughed. “Thanks, Cheryl! See you soon.”
Cheryl swatted her arm. With the fervor of a converted nudist, she cursed mosquitoes and reached for her blouse. Then she said aloud, “‘Humans’! For a hungry mosquito, we’re just as good as any other mammal.” And she continued her thought: Better, even, because we don’t have as much hair covering our surface. Even so, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I just need more bug spray for when we host this again in October!
As Cheryl left, she saw Jim waiting to lock up the gate. “Jim, you should have joined in the fun!”
“More bear enthusiasts, huh?”
“I don’t know how you spell ‘bare,’ Jim, but I spell it B-A-R-E!”