Please read Atticus Lish

Written By: sherridaley - • •

The War for Gloria

I was certain I wasn’t going to like this book. I am seldom lucky enough to read two great books in a row, but o ye of little faith, in which case, happens to be me. The War for Gloria is a painful depiction of a young boy trying to grow up with a struggling single mother who is slowly sinking into the depths of Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Corey is a tough little Boston teenager who loves his mom and tries to help, but truly, it’s all too much, and the reader will feel it. You want to be a little angry with mom, who is financially and emotionally irresponsible, but she tries so hard. And she loves Corey so much. And Corey loves her. He’s admirably devoted to her and takes on the nursing responsibilities and awkward personal care his mother needs. I learned too much about ALS.

But Lish has masterfully built two or three plots into this scenario: Corey’s odd friendship with another boy who likes to lift weights and hates to shower, and inexplicably (till later in the book) wears his athletic cup 23/7. He smells. And there’s the appearance of Leonard, Corey’s biological father, who arrives without warning and sleeps on the couch in the living room, sometimes going off to work as a security guard at Harvard and sometimes disappearing for weeks at a time. He says he’s a cop. He’s a physics geek. As is his smelly friend.

Those two characters vie for attention while Gloria weakens and Corey tries to make sense of it all. It’s all threaded together, with some disturbing clues dropped into the plots like hot wax. Lish is good at not giving it all away. In fact, when the horrible mess explodes on the page, I wasn’t sure I even read it right. I went back to re-read it to see if what I suspected might be so.
But Lish isn’t saying. Which is why I wrote Lish my fan letter telling him he amazed me and asking him to please write another book.

In the meantime, please read this one.

I’m an avid Atticus fan now.

Written By: sherridaley - • •

I read Atticus Lish’s books because his father is the reason I was able to finish writing HIGH COTTON. I had brought him a handful of pages when he was at Knopf. He was Raymond Craver’s editor, and I am a big fan of Carver. Lish called me at the ad agency where I worked at the time and suggested we meet. “I was on my way to the wastebasket with your manuscript, but I read the first paragraph …”
So I thought I’d see what talent his son had, thinking that he probably got published just because his dad had influence in the business. I was prepared for mediocrity – and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I read Preparation for the Next Life first, an ambitious novel about an undocumented Chinese girl and a tortured Iraqi war veteran named Skinner, set in the grittiest neighborhoods of New York City. How they survive independently and almost unbelievably makes for an irresistible story. What amazed me — and I actually wrote Lish a fan letter and told him he amazed me — was the amount of research he must have done. He had to have visited the seedy cardboard apartments where Zou Lei had to live, storing her possessions in paper bags. He had to have gone in the 24-hour McDonald’s in Times Square where homeless people often sleep.
This was an introduction to the underbelly of New York, smelly, dirty, hot, and scary, but Skinner and Zou Lei somehow scrape out the beauty in it, and they fall in love.
You’ll end up grateful for your own life, aching for the pain in theirs while you read. And Lish is masterful at presenting unexpected turns. It’s a hefty novel of more than 400 pages, but never was I ready to set the book down.
When I finished, I was glad that I had The War for Gloria on the table next to my bed so I didn’t have to go long without Atticus Lish.

SHhhh. Read this book.

Written By: sherridaley - • •

The Spy and the Traitor: the Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War

I swear to God that I did not choose to read “The Spy and the Traitor” because of all the current news about possible Russian spying.  I’m simply a sheep to the New York Times Book Review Section, and I like books based on true stories.  For example, if you haven’t read “A Very English Scandal” or my review of it, please do.  I am going to see the movie as soon as I can, mostly because I like Hugh Grant. I’m shallow.

So I get “The Spy and the Traitor”, and it’s quite a long book with an introduction, a 12-page index, three pages of footnotes, and a bibliography. It is, frankly, intimidating, and it does not help that the characters and place names have way too many consonants and syllables. Almost all of them end with a Y, and there seems to be no way to remember who’s who and where’s anything, especially when there are dozens of people and places to keep track of. It helped that the main character’s name is Oleg.  That I could remember.

The very first paragraph coaxed me in, and in no time, I was hooked. So much I did not know about the KGB, Stalin, and Russian privilege.  So much I didn’t want to know about man’s propensity to betray his fellow man and the power of propaganda. But like the proverbial expression about how we have to slow down to look at an accident on the highway, I had to read this book.

It’s about patriotism, passion, and commitment – and it’s about fear and secrecy.  I was constantly amazed at the lives of the double agents, what they risked and why. Safe houses, alibis, aliases, code names, and acronyms.  How do they remember everything? Especially when they drink mind-staggering amounts of fine wine, brandy, vodka, and bourbon with madly expensive lunches and dinners.

I had to keep reminding myself that this was real.  It seemed so silly sometimes, the notes passed, the secret signs like holding a Safeway bag in front of a bakery or a piece of trash lodged near the base of a tree, the intricate escape plans which required a family of four to curl up in the trunk of a car. Like a bad gangster movie, except it’s real.

Macintyre really did his homework. That he could put together this much information impressed me more than the fact that he molded it into an exceptionally readable book.

Exceptionally readable.  Read it.


Still Fat (#2 in a series)

Written By: sherridaley - • •

STILL FAT  (#2 in a series)

For those of you who have not read FAT, the first in a series about my fat, I admitted that I have gained weight, which has settled comfortably around my midsection and which actually jiggles when I sharpen a pencil in an old-fashioned pencil sharpener at school.

Right. At school. I teach school, which is another reason I have gained weight as teachers live in an alternative universe where no one judges by body type and it is okay to wear holiday sweaters. Think.  Has anyone ever seen an overweight bond trader or advertising executive? (Think Mad Men.) For that matter, has anyone seen said examples ever wearing a holiday sweater? There may be a connection between the sweaters and fatness.  Just a thought.

A summer of daily gym workouts and 3-mile runs did nothing. I was driven to consider the drastic measure of getting a certified doctor to cut off the flab.

A tummy tuck, which is a euphemism for abdominoplasty, surgery which promises to remove excess fat and skin and which sounds pretty good to me, because that’s exactly what I want to do without giving up four glasses of cheap Chardonnay every night.

I read about abdominoplasty. It is not a walk in the park as it involves knives and anesthesia and probably stitches and medication – most walks in the park don’t get that bad —  but I have two handfuls of fat I need removed and so I soldier on.

I research nearby doctors, and since I live in a tony Manhattan suburb where there are hundreds of bored rich housewives who have little else to do but obsess about their stomachs and spend their husbands’ money, I zero in on a local surgeon. Surely, in a town this small and this gossipy, a doctor must do a great job or else be pilloried by bored rich housewives.

I make the appointment.


Dr. O’Connell’s office looks like the lobby of an expensive spa in Sweden. I have never been to an expensive spa in Sweden, but this was how I imagined it would look: ice-white walls and floor-to-ceiling windows and delicate foliage, white leather-and-chrome couches, and a circular staircase leading to private treatment rooms with pillows that smell of lavender and eucalyptus.

A beautiful woman and her beautiful teen-aged daughter are already there, silently looking into the air in front of them, unopened magazines on their respective laps.

WHAT CAN THEY POSSIBLY BE HERE FOR? I scream into my frontal lobe. They are both perfect. I try to make myself smaller. Really small. Like I could suck myself up into a little fist and disappear, but I have too much belly fat, and so I sit as far away from them as possible and look for reading material.

Most magazines feature women that make me feel worse than I already do, so I opt for idly fingering the brochures on a small table near me. A pale blue brochure is all about something called “Cool Sculpting”.

I have never heard of such a thing, but it immediately brought to mind ice sculptures like the huge ice bear that used to be in the dining room of the Russian Tea Room or, more recently, like the naked ice torso of a woman at the 4th of July party of one of my son’s friends.  You could suck Jagermeister out of her nipples.  I didn’t, but you could.

When my name is called, I take the ice sculpture brochure with me.

In my consultation with Dr. O’Connell, here is what I learned.

  1. A tummy-tuck in Westport CT costs considerably more than the Internet told me a tummy-tuck would cost. “Well, the Internet wasn’t taking into account that you were getting your surgery in Westport,” Dr. O pointed out. Right.
  2. It hurts. O said that in a much more kindly way. I don’t remember his words exactly because I was still recovering from the price.
  3. There are muscles in my stomach, although I have not noticed them in years. O assures me that he would sew them together after knifing off my belly fat.


At this point, I am thinking my belly fat isn’t as bad as all that and Dr. O can read my facial expression and body language.  He points at the Cool Sculpting brochure wadded up in my sweaty right hand.  “There’s that option,” he says.

I have a flash image of the naked ice torso and an urge for some Jagermeister, but it turns out that Cool Sculpting is something altogether different. It is the freezing of fat cells.  Killing them! Over the course of 3 months, the frozen fat cells will die off and they will never come back.  And the procedure requires no surgery, no recovery time, and costs half as much.

I like this.  I sign the papers they give me which say the doctor is not held responsible for much of anything and maybe it won’t work, but I remember that he has been providing plastic surgery and tummy tucks and this ice thing for over 25 years and no one has hunted him down for disappointing her. Trust me. I know this town.  If he didn’t do his job right, he would not be there.  He would be dead.

I go home happy, checking my fat rolls with my thumb and forefinger, thinking they will be GONE by November.

Life is good.

More than Confusion of Languages!

Written By: sherridaley - • •

The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon

Not a patient person anyway, I was more than irritated by the Margaret Brickshaw character in this book. Well-intentioned but remarkably stupid in my opinion, Margaret follows her heart rather than social conventions when she finds herself immersed in Middle Eastern  culture.

Both Margaret and Cassie Hugo are young wives married to soldiers stationed in Jordan. Cassie and her husband Dan have been there for two years before Margaret and her husband Creighton arrive. The husbands are military colleagues and friends, but Cassie meets Margaret for the first time early in the book and understands she needs to help Margaret get settled in an unfamiliar country.

Which is not as easy as we’d hope.

First of all, Margaret and Creighton (His nickname is Crick.) have an adorable baby. Cassie and Dan have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant and Cassie is empty and ruined and sad. The baby, with the rather sophisticated name of Mather, pulls at Cassie’s heart and marriage. Margaret takes the baby for granted. It is, after all, her baby and there’s nothing particularly amazing about having a baby.  Unless of course you can’t have one.

Also, Crick is a bit of a flirt around Cassie, and Dan doesn’t really understand the bleeding ache in his wife’s heart because she can’t procreate.  Cassie tries to mentor Margaret through the complicated rules of being a woman living in the Middle East while swallowing her envy about Mather. Margaret tries to balance her female spontaneity with what she thinks are unnecessary restrictive protocols in her everyday life.

These four people orbit one another, sometimes touching, sometimes not, sometimes hurting each other without meaning to.  But the awkwardness extends far beyond the two couples. There’s a cultural awkwardness with horrid repercussions and it’s all Margaret’s innocent fault.  Unless you question Cassie’s motives, which I advise you not to.

All along the way, I wanted things to go differently and I wanted to like the characters more than I did. I became enmeshed in the mess they were all making, unable to blame one character more than another.

It doesn’t end well.





Underwear – Second in a series

Written By: sherridaley - • •

Getting dressed and undressed is what you do before and after you go to the gym. It is not considered part of your workout.  However, as an aging athlete with arthritis, I found that getting into a pair of Lululemon leggings is a challenging exercise in balance and focus, and therefore I do count it as part of my workout.

I have mastered this by first assigning myself a point at which to stare. In yoga, we call this your drishti; it helps your balance. That way, I can stand on one leg while inserting the other leg into my leggings without either sitting on the floor like a toddler or leaning against a doorjamb (like a drunk).  I have become quite adept at this and I think I look like a ballerina.

Furthermore, I have no problem, despite the arthritis in my shoulders, putting on a sports bra. After all, I’ve been wearing sports bras since they were invented in 1977.

Getting undressed, however, is a whole nother story. Peeling off sweaty leggings is pretty easy, although for me, they almost always end up inside out. No problem, really. But getting out of a sweaty sports bra has become the part of my workout that I hate the most. More than burpees. More than side crunches on a stability ball. More than anything my trainer can dream up at her most sadistic.

I have not found any tricks that help.  After a sweaty, sticky workout at the gym – “sticky” being the operative word here – I am hard put to get out of my brassiere. One would think that simply leaning forward, reaching behind, and grabbing the back of the sports bra would result in being able to pull the thing up and over my head.

No. First of all, “reaching behind” is hard. Both shoulders scream, “Are you kidding?” There are odd gyrations necessary to get both hands even near the middle of my back; and once there, I sometimes I can muster up enough strength to yank the damn thing off.

Other times, I can hear threads snapping, but the bra is not moving and what started as an exercise in strength has now evolved into the arena of physics, that branch of science concerned with the properties of matter (sports bra) and energy (mine) and the relationship between them ( not good). According to the internet, physics traditionally includes mechanics, optics, electricity, magnetism, and heat, all of which I seem to employ while trying to get a fucking sweaty sports bra off.

Geometry even gets into it. Will the acute angle of my right elbow fit through the arm hole?  Sometimes it does, which leaves me with one breast and one arm free and absolutely no idea what to do next. It does, however, make me feel as though I have made progress. This is a delusion.

Another approach is to pull the bra up over both boobs and attempt to pull the bra over my face and, hence, off, which sometimes results in getting it stuck on my head, temporarily blinding me, which makes me mad.

By the time I am one “goddammfuckshitasswipeshitfuck” away from ripping the thing in half, I find out how strong the fabric they make sports bras out of really is. I am not even sure I can cut it off with garden shears, and I can hardly go over to the neighbor’s house with one boob trapped in an armhole and ask for help.

When I was complaining to my brother about this, he suggested I forget about taking it off at all – just wear it all the time- which isn’t a bad idea. I mean, I’d shower with it on so it wouldn’t get all smelly. I consider this.

Then I remember the feeling of accomplishment I get after a good workout.  You know that rush after a brisk 5-mile run or that pumped-up burn after lifting? I get that feeling after I have successfully removed a sweaty sports bra and I stand naked, free …

… and victorious.






Written By: sherridaley - • •

Waking Lions by Ayelet Gundar Goshen

Like Bonfire of the Vanities, this debut novel starts with a hit-and-run, an unexpected bolt of violence in the very first sentence. So unexpected that I had to go back and re-read the first few pages to make sure I had got it right.

Unlike Bonfire, however, the protagonist of Waking Lions is a good man that I kept rooting for, even though leaving a man bleeding by the side of the road in the middle of the night, in the middle of a desert, is a despicable thing to do.  Especially since the driver, Eitan Green, is a doctor – a neurosurgeon, actually, and – um – married to a police detective. They’ve got a solid marriage with two healthy sons.

But now Dr. Green has an ugly secret. He knew the man was beyond resuscitation, and furthermore, an Eritrean migrant (Yes, I had to look it up, too.), probably undocumented; and so, under a beautiful moon and a scattering of bright stars, Dr. Green left him there and went home.

Fear, guilt, morality, and racism are all tumbled together in a story that I kept stumbling over, never quite expecting what would happen next.  If nothing else, Waking Lions will test what you thought you knew about people. It’s uncomfortable, provoking, and tangled. I actually gasped when I finally grasped what hell Dr. Green had gotten himself into.

But it was a hell of good intentions, and once there he could not leave. Would he fall in love with the widow of the dead Eritrean? She is strong-willed, single-minded, and Dr. Green grew to find her beautiful. Would his guilt finally give him away? It had to. His wife was assigned to investigate the hit-and-run. How much worse could it get?  Well, it could and it does.

I don’t want to tell you much more, because the surprises are what make the book so impossible to put down. You will never, ever see the ending coming.

And you will never really feel good about it.


Written By: sherridaley - • •

(FFirst in a Series)

Take two large boneless chicken breasts – uncooked – out of the refrigerator and lay them end to end on the kitchen counter.  Then place your hands on them, one hand to a breast, and squeeze.

That is what my belly feels like. On either side of my torso, the bunched-up fat is more like a good tilapia filet, folded over.

That being said, no one thinks I am fat; and I don’t really look fat from most angles or when I am wearing leggings and a stunning Eileen Fisher silk tunic, preferably black.

However, no one would willingly paste two chicken breasts on her stomach or tilapia filets at the bottom of her ribcage where they can lovingly be referred to as “love handles” or a “muffintop”. (For those of you men who are reading this, DO NOT EVER USE THOSE WORDS TO REFER TO THE BODY OF A WOMAN YOU LOVE. In fact, just don’t use those words at all.)

At first, I thought I would lose a few pounds and that unsightly flab would disappear, but instead, I gained weight – through no fault of my own, I might add. I don’t eat cake or pie or pizza or candy bars or mashed potatoes or cheeseburgers or ice cream or bread or French fries or Mexican food.  I do, however, use industrial amounts of butter when I cook and drink vats of Chardonnay, and I am sure there are other falls from grace we could identify if I gave a shit. Excuse me. I meant, if I took the time to really examine my diet.

Here are things I tried.

  1. Turmeric, Cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and a shot of water every day. Nothing happened.
  2. Underactive thyroid? Took pills for a year.  The nurse said the weight would just “drop off”.
  3. Not eating after 9PM. Not a problem. I’m usually asleep so no change there.
  4. Drink more water. Did that.
  5. Join a gym. I understand now that you have to GO to the gym after you join.

Despite my admittedly half-hearted efforts to lose that flabby chicken fat, I continued to slowly but inexorably gain weight until I now weigh about as much as my high school boyfriend did.

I read somewhere that the average American will gain about a pound each year from age 25 while losing about ½ pound a year of bone and muscle mass. After 70 or 80, our weight typically begins a slow decline, which sounds good except we don’t lose the fat we gained earlier; we tend to lose even more muscle tissue and bone density while the amount of body fat remains the same or even increases.

Doing the math, I appear to be in pretty good shape despite the wads of flesh that hang over the top of my underpants, which I envision cutting off with a steak knife in my more angry, self-flagellating moments and which I know is immature, stupid, and non-productive.

Or is it?  Couldn’t a doctor cut this off with the surgical equivalent of a steak knife? Yes, he could. It’s called a “tummy-tuck”!

So I called a doctor and made an appointment.


Written By: sherridaley - • •


I always check out 4-5 books at a time, sometimes more. I stack them up on the windowsill next to my bed and when I decide that a book isn’t worth my time, I flip to the end to see if the guy dies or the wife walks out or the doctors give up but the baby lives. Then I toss the book on the floor and reach for the next book. This saves a lot of trips back & forth to the library.

However, this last stack of books provided me with three great books in a row, and I recomend you go out immediately and find them and read them all.

The Awkward Age by Francesca Segal does star a couple of teenagers, but it is absolutely not your average coming-of-age novel.  This is a story of a whole family: kids, stepkids, parents, grandparents, in-laws, lovers, exes, and a dog. There are so many different kinds of love here, so carefully arranged and presented, that I wouldn’t have been able to tell you which “relationship” I was actively following. The plots unravel slowly, with enough hints and foreshadowing to have me thinking, “Oh god, please don’t let THAT happen.” But it does, of course, except for the couple of things that didn’t, even though I was totally expecting them.

I hurt for everyone, reading this book. Even the love hurt a bit. They all tried so hard, analyzed decisions, not realizing that some things just happen without any human (or divine) intervention.  Polite.  This book treats awkwardness, passion, disappointment, anger, and loss politely, slipping hope in there to make me feel better.

The Floating World is a love story of a completely different nature. The author, C. Morgan Babst, evacuated New Orleans one day before Katrina made landfall, and after 11 years in New York, she went back to live in New Orleans with her husband and child. Although this is a sort of murder mystery involving a missing sister and dead woman, it’s really a love story between the city of New Orleans and the people who live there.

I fell in love myself – with the mud and the placid, standing water weeks after the storm, with the mold and the rot, and the broken trees and abandoned houses filled with sodden shoes and mattresses. The resilience of the survivors is stunning. I could never have been so stubborn, so strong. But I have never loved a city like these people love theirs.

When I finished the book, I could almost smell the heat, see the wind. It’s a book heavy with scent and scenery.  It’s almost palpable.

Standard Deviation. Well.  I didn’t have much hope for this book. Three good books in a row is really too much to ask of any library, but who can’t love a book with a sentence like this?

Elspeth had the deeply reflective air of someone who has just seen a particularly savage wildlife documentary, and Bentrup had taken on the seedy, shellacked look of a late-night convenience store shopper.

Every page had sentences like that. Every page!

Unlike The Awkward Age, Standard Deviation has only a few characters to follow, but it’s tough keeping up. Our hero’s second wife is mildly crazy, unpredictable, and so beautiful that our man can’t stop admiring her. His first wife is intelligent, accomplished, and very, very neat. The progeny from the second marriage is Matthew, an 11-year-old boy with Asperger’s and an obsession with origami. Living with, and trying to raise, Matthew is practically a fulltime job, skirting his many social issues, planning and cooking his complicated food issues, tolerating the very few friedships he’s managed to acquire, and driving him to and from whatever activities they’ve arranged.

Still our hero, Graham Cavanaugh, has time to vacillate between right and wrong, moral and amoral, acceptance and curiosity, lust and friendship. It’s not easy.

As houseguests came and went, I found myself getting tired. I wanted to force myself into a chapter or two just to clear people out of the apartment so Graham could THINK.

I was disappointed that the book ended, and as Graham and Audra (that’s the second wife’s name) tottered off into the night, I wished I could have followed them!

The Skinny on Bad Behavior

Written By: sherridaley - • •



The Skinny on Bad Behavior

I swear to God you are the only person I have told this to.

The other night I went out for a walk on the beach and about a half-mile from the marina, I ducked behind a couple of trees, took off my clothes, ran across the sand, and jumped in the water. I cavorted around for a while, made some big splashy noises; and then I streaked back to where I had hidden my clothes, got dressed, and walked home.

It felt great.

I may never do it again. Something tells me that it would be bad business to make a habit of swimming naked on neighborhood beaches even in the dark. But if I never have the urge again, at least I know now that I can if I want to. I got away with it, and I must tell you, there was something liberating about running through the dark without my clothes on. I could see lights in the windows of the shore houses; there was a wide arc of a spotlight over the tennis courts at the beach club and headlights twinkled through the dune rose bushes that separated the swimming area from the street. I kept watching the public pavilion for the night watchman. I squinted through the dark, on the alert for some locals out for a stroll or a couple of teenagers looking for a place to be alone. And there I was, naked as a jaybird and flaunting it, dancing around on the sand bar. Am I nuts?

Maybe. All I know is, there are a few things I miss as I (gently) grow older, and one of them is misbehaving. Good clean fun, with a little mischief tossed in and a slight dusting of danger, that delicious fear of “getting caught.”

My best friend Patty and I used to sneak into MaryLou Durentini’s house when we knew nobody was home. We were, I think, nine. We never took anything. We never even touched anything. We just went in through the porch door because we knew it was always unlocked and walked around looking at things. We never spoke. We just walked through the rooms holding onto each other, holding our breath, hearing imaginary clicks and door latches that could signal the arrival of Mr. or Mrs. Durentini. The anxiety was like ice water running over our skin; the air in our lungs strained at our chests till we were ready to burst. When we snuck back out again, we walked nonchalantly down the driveway and then took off running at top speed and threw ourselves, spent and breathless, into the drainage ditch behind the Methodist church. Ah, it was grand.

When I got a little older and could get around without grownups, I was forbidden to hang out by the river. The current was swift and the water was ice-cold. Behind the river’s edge was the local park where evil lurked in the bushes. To sit with your boyfriend on the river bank was just about as exciting as you could possibly get. It was a small town. Anyone could see you – just happen past, tell your mom and you would really catch it. I just loved being in love when and where I wasn’t supposed to. At 15, all those hormonal nerve-endings are like live electrical wires downed by high winds. They jump and send sparks. It’s a great feeling.

Misbehaving got a little more wicked as the years went on. I remember the first time I was awake – and out – at 3AM.. Only naughty things happen at 3AM. Lovely, wicked things. Dancing on picnic tables, drinking contests and kissing contests and whispered confidences. Lapses in judgment and memory, illicit sex, and precious little lies we all think we can justify and lies we want to believe. Things that you can only do in the dark on not enough sleep and too much liquor.

Then you grow up. The penalties for misbehaving start to get inconvenient, and the authorities are less forgiving. You begin to look foolish or downright stupid. Furthermore, I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time staying up long enough to get into too much trouble, especially if I drink. Used to be that if I had a couple drinks too many, I’d tell bawdy jokes, dance on the bar, flirt with the bartender, or take somebody home. Now I just nod off.

But oh I miss the electricity that heats up when I misbehave. That skin-tingling anxiousness, the bubble of breath that rises in my chest and threatens to cut off my air supply. It’s heady and exhilarating, and I felt it the other night when I hid my clothes behind the trees at the beach and ran barefoot and naked into Long Island Sound.

I wonder who saw me.

Skinny-dipping may just be the last bastion of naughtiness we can allow ourselves. According to police (I called several towns), skinny-dipping as a concept is not illegal. “The term is ‘breech of peace’,” said the officer at the Westport Police Department, who of course remains nameless. Cops can’t bask in media limelight. “If there’s no complaint, you haven’t broken any law. Frankly, I wouldn’t bother anyone I saw skinny-dipping.” (This is the cop I want to catch me.)

You must be careful about where you run around naked, however. It either has to be a public swimming hole or your own property. If you trespass, it doesn’t matter if you have your suit on or not. You broke the law.

So if you’re considering a little naughty midnight swim, consider the following.

Swim naked in your own backyard pool. You can heighten the danger factor here by swimming naked during the day. Diving off the high board drives the scare factor up some more.

Midnight skinny-swims on public beaches. These are sometimes patrolled, so keep your clothes handy and leave your ID in the car. Remember we don’t run so fast anymore.

Skinny-dips in reservoirs in broad daylight. This is highly illegal, even if you’re wearing a suit. Reservoirs are always patrolled, and the cops know where the kids sneak in. You will be the oldest one in the courtroom and the fines are nasty.

Sneak into the pool of a swanky golf club. The rewards are clean water, no horseshoe crabs or unidentified muck to step into. If you’re quiet, you might get away with it, but some clubs have night watchmen, some are regularly visited by he cops, and neighbors have no sense of humor. They’ll call the police.

Saunter breezily and in your favorite bathing apparel into the deep water of a local swimming area. Paddle around for a while, and when you think people aren’t looking, wiggle out of your suit. You can tie your suit to an ankle and swim around naked. If your fellow swimmers turn you in, however, you better work on your softshoe.

Do not go gentle into that good night.
Go naked.