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.

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  1. Love you Sherri Daley .. so much … really .. your voice is unique and full of wonderful
    fun and playfulness that thank GOD has not been socialized out of you yet !
    p.s. i also fall asleep before i can dance on the bar and get in trouble these days
    love suzanne

  2. Julie Benson Barton says:

    Hope you didn’t do that in CT last night

  3. Annie says: