[ From the Archives of 365 ]
“If it’s nude, I’ll be there!”
Unbelievable! I actually found a couple of hours to relax poolside. An unexpected bonus seeing that, as I was at the beginning of a one-week workshop I was presenting to JPAC (Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command) at Pearl Harbor, was a moment that I took full hold of. Had a few nice chats with the strangers beside me. You know the usual safe stuff. The small talk one might expect when mingling with vacationers. But as I took in the casual chatter, I notice a through-line of conversation that was slowly building momentum, not only poolside but as I found out later speaking with the girl at Starbucks, had reached deep into the resort’s culture.
It was a set of questions regarding a regular visitor to the hotel’s beach. That being, Who is the g-stringed man? And in that curiosity, it was apparent that there was much speculation. Reasonings like, could he be from France? I think he talks to himself! Watch out he’s a molester! A porn star?! And the more I heard the conjecture, the more I was compelled to know the truth. There was no way I was going to pass up the possibility to meet a man of such controversy. And being no subscriber to gossip or speculation, the only answer for me was to go directly to the source. And that’s exactly what I did.
Say hello to Ray, the man of mystery. Turned out he was a very charming and confident nudist—at least as nude as he could be at a public beach. I caught up with him as he humorously posed for a photo-op with another not-so-shy Hawaii visitor. It was so obvious that Ray did not take life too seriously. Proven as he allowed said visitor to have a photo taken with her hand on his… let’s just say, lower rear region.
The lady was eating it up, and as fast as she left, (huge smile on face), and without pause, female two jumped for her photo opp. All the while her chuckling husband taking snapshots of the entire scene. For certain, another memory for a lighthearted vacationer.
“I will never leave this place, it’s an endless party.”
In both cases, he thanked them with the kindness and grace of a seasoned ambassador. So I figured, surely he will allow me to take his photo. And as I guessed, it didn’t take any convincing to get his less than speedo-covered celebrity to buy-in. I’m serious about the “celeb” status. For it seemed, that even though under the watching eye of hotel security, he rose front and center as talk of Hilton’s Hawaiian Village. With humility, backed by a sincere and heartfelt laugh, he offered me all the time I needed for a photo and interview. As as I sat by his side, I felt the wondering eyes of all those passing by. Sort of a guilt-by-association thing. But no worries for Ray, he was all in and down for the fun and publicity.
Turned out Ray was from New Jersey, possessed a Master’s Degree in electrical engineering, and had recently retired from a high position within Northrup Grumman, exiting a successful career as a Computer Systems Analyst? A surprising fact that I never considered in my first impression of him. This so overexposed guy was no fool. Truly quite the opposite; an articulate, educated man, he was living life to the maximum degree.
There was no chip on his shoulder regarding his outlook on life; even if he had one, where would he hide it anyway?
He shared his love of Hawaii, stating, “I will never leave this place, it’s an endless party.” A claim I heard from many of the beach regulars. But although not all that unique, a claim he so obviously deserved to own. Ray trusted me with a few life details, which with respect to him, I choose to keep concealed. Details that, although conflicted directly against my value system, where lifestyle choices that he shared with other consenting adults. Evidence that could not be disputed in verifying his credentials to boast of his party rights. Yet, there was no malice in his intent, and from what I felt as he admitted the purpose of his actions were to simply entertain, I concluded that he was doing no harm. And even though I did hear a few hotel patrons complaining of his presence, I took position in supporting his right to share the beach. For as I witnessed a greater outreach from those with a more playful and appreciative outlook of Ray. Like I said earlier, many people posed with him. Certainly taking home memories of red faces and laughter. So Ray, hat’s off to your courage and the smiles you put on people’s faces.
My eyes were opened that day. Not so much in being brought up to speed as Ray explained he was wearing was his modest beach attire. And as I shook my head in uptaking that fact, he invited me to the parties and offered to tour guide me to his comfort place, the local nude beaches. I declined.
Ray, thanks for the memories!