Sentinel Progress

Naked vacations: Yes, that’s a thing

According to NBC News, the travel industry’s latest trend is the “nacation.”

As the name implies, a nacation is a “naked vacation.” Florida alone has 30 clothing-optional resorts, and Carnival is among the cruise lines catering to such recreational activities.

I dislike this cheapening of the venerable game of guessing which state other tourists are from (“State of Maine…state of Oklahoma…state of arousal…”), but I’m not going to try to talk anyone out of nacationing. I don’t need the well-worn “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it” quip.

(Hmm…wouldn’t it save a lot of airtime and newsprint if the FDA allowed pharmaceutical companies to skip all the disclaimers about nausea, dizziness, prehensile tails and the like and simply advertise their pills with “Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it”?)

NBC enlisted psychologists to explain nacation mania. Tellingly, the psychologists analyzed the movement from afar, instead of allowing the participants on their couches. Psychologists saw nacations as a healthy release of mankind’s primal urges for voyeurism and exhibitionism. (“Next up: let’s wipe out the village on the other side of the hill!”)

The exhilarating emotional/physical freedom of a nacation speaks to basic human longings. People are chafing under the inhibitions of their daily lives. Some people yearn to escape a war-ravaged country. Some people yearn to escape a physically abusive marriage. Some people yearn to escape relaxed-fit jeans. We all have our crosses to bear.

I’m sure there are uptight people who would like to preach fire and brimstone to the nacationers, but pronouncements of a special corner of hell would likely fall on deaf ears. Our culture’s priorities have changed. (“Wailing? Gnashing of teeth? Okay, okay. But what’s the dress code like?”)

Nacations are supposed to break down the class barriers that are perpetuated by clothing. But, honestly, isn’t a prideful “Check out this Armani suit” a little less of an imposition than “Check out these irregularly shaped moles. Be thorough, buddy. I spent all my co-payment money on sunscreen”?

Yeah, nacations are touted as the Great Equalizer. As the week progresses, the Beautiful People get taken for granted, and the grossest of the nacationers start looking less repulsive. Redistribution of appeal! Nacations are a form of Democratic Socialism! (“Sorry, I can’t go girth-challenged dipping or play nude volleyball until after we nationalize the volleyball factory!”)

Nacation “judgment-free zones” are praised as empowering. Your nakedness desensitizes total strangers to the point of saying, “Meh.” (“Dance, you jaded puppet, dance!”)

But does stripping down really offer a satisfying long-term experience, or is it a “gateway drug” for some? (“Next year, I’m bringing a portable X-ray machine!”)

Are we overselling the idea of Getting Away From It All with a nacation? (“Oh, that scar is from the appendectomy I’m dodging the bill collector about. That tattoo is from the ex who’s stalking me…”)

I’m worried that the feel of the ocean on naked flesh is way too life-affirming for some people. Will these powder kegs be able to handle the daily grind of returning to work? (“Flipflops? Tank tops? You call that Casual Friday? I’d climb a bell tower and start shooting if these garments… weren’t…so…restrictive.”)

Nacations certainly have momentum going, but they will never be a mainstream, family-friendly experience until grownups can come to grips with inevitable roadtrip annoyances.

“Are we naked yet? Are we naked yet? Are we naked yet?”

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By Danny Tyree

Contributing columnist

Danny Tyree welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Opinions expressed in this column represent those of the author only and do not necessarily represent those of the newspaper.