Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Man Cave: Primordial Manness

Certain activities seem inherently manly: pouring concrete, hanging drywall, fixing a transmission. They are the stock in trade of manhood, component parts of the complete manly experience. They are the baseline. But every now and then a singular event comes along that takes a dude's manliness to a whole 'nother level.

I am now gong to relate the single most manly event of my life.

And it involves nudity.

First I need to explain a couple things.

1. Kathy and I actively maintain a bucket list; an evolving roster of things we want to do or accomplish before we shuffle off this mortal coil. Some of the things are important, some silly. Some public, some private. One of the things on my list was to go skinny-dipping, and as everyone knows skinny-dipping only counts as skinny-dipping when there is an element of risk. A single lap around a fenced-in backyard kiddie pool does not count.

2. During the year in which this story takes place Mars was at its closest proximity to earth in many decades. All year long it had shown as the brightest light in the night sky.

Now, on with the adventure:

It was August, the summer of 2000. Our family, along with a few sibling's families, were camping near Lake Kachess in Washington state. As we sat around the campfire one night, talking and roasting marshmallows, the subject of bucket lists came up, which in turn led to the subject of skinny dipping. Without a word all the males in the group exchanged looks. It was understood: tonight was the night I would cross that goal off my list.

We set out, the four of us: my son, my brother, my brother-in-law, and me. We paused for a moment on the beach, anxiously watching for any sign that we might observed. All clear. We stripped and jumped in. The sand was coarse on our bare feet, but the water was cool, clear, and ....ummm.... all-encompassing. After swimming around long enough to confidently declare the goal accomplished, we clambered back onto the beach.

As we did so Mars suddenly cleared the surrounding mountains, hurtling its way across the heavens. In the clear, dark mountain sky it was more bright and vivid than I had ever seen it. And then, as we stood there marveling at it, my brother-in-law suddenly spoke. "Hey...are those the Northen Lights?" We looked, and to our astonishment we saw them: radiant bands of light curling across the night sky.

And there we stood: naked, on the shore of an untamed wilderness lake, gazing in awe as the wonders of Heaven unveiled themselves to us.

I don't reckon I'll ever feel more cavemanier than that.

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