Technically, it wasn’t skinny dipping.
We may have been mostly naked, but we weren’t completely naked. Obviously, if we still had some clothes on, it wasn’t skinny dipping.
That said, I’ve never had much luck with skinny dipping.
The first time I engaged in a mixed-gender skinny dipping fiasco (yes, sadly, there has been more than one fiasco) was when I was working as the wrangler up at the ranch. The day had been magical—it was one of those days that they show on movies or magazine ads—the kind that seem too perfect to be real and never really happen to you.
The morning’s rides had been perfect, and the weather surprisingly cool. The morning workload was wonderfully light, as we were mostly getting ready for the gymkhana the stable was going to be hosting that afternoon. The afternoon contests started out light and fun, but it soon became obvious that it wasn’t going to last. There was a tenseness in the afternoon breeze that signaled the approaching summer storm long before we saw any signs of it in the cloudless sky. When it finally did arrive, it slammed in with gusto. Within a few short minutes the sky disappeared behind dark, angry thunderheads that appeared out of nowhere. The earth shaking crack of thunder signaled a very abrupt end to the afternoon’s gymkhana. People scattered with their horses back to the barns, and the cooks struggled to cover the barbeque pits with tarps that snapped violently in the unpredictable gusts.
It should have been scary, unsaddling the horses that were panicky from the way the lightening cracked violently all around us, but somehow it wasn’t. Maybe it was stupidity, maybe it was youth, but the afternoon held an almost magical feel. Despite the danger of the electrical storm that swirled around us, it felt as if nothing could actually go wrong. It became a race to see if we could get it done before the obviously impending downpour. Laughing, we ducked and weaved around the fidgeting, frightened horses, stripping saddles with an impressive speed. The horses danced nervously, manes and tails twisting in the unpredictable storm wind. Even the most bombproof were threatening to set back against their rope halters, and the hurried motions of the other wranglers and I weren’t helping anything.
One of the other wranglers who was about my age, Jordan, grinned at me from over the back of a lanky thoroughbred cross named Parrot.
“Slow poke” he challenged.
“Oh yeah?” I shot back, sliding the half hitch of the latigo knot free, releasing the cinch with a speed that caused it to almost hiss in the air. “Then why do I have my saddle off already?”
With a grin, I slung the lightweight cordura over my hip and ran laughing to the barn, Jordan only steps behind me. Both of us tossed the lightweight Corduras on the nearest available rack, instead of hunting down the individual horse’s rack. We’d figure out the mess later. We ran neck and neck towards the nearest saddled horses, slowing down just enough to prevent panicking them.
I wish someone had a stop watch, because even hampered by laughter we must have set some sort of a record for unsaddling 20 head. Flinging wide the gates to the pasture and starting with the horses nearest the gate, we loosened the halters of each gelding, shooing them towards their freedom with their hands. We didn’t have to ask twice— each gelding set out towards their freedom in a long, swinging trot. By the time Jordan set the last one free, the hitching rail was dotted with abandoned halters that were twisting in the wind. I slammed the gate behind the last of gelding, latching it firmly, and right on cue the heavens opened up. Jordan and I were drenched in seconds, but that didn’t keep us from scurrying for the cover of the feedtruck, our progress hampered by the fact that we were both bent double from the force of our laughter.
We fed in record time. While the blue feed truck may have had four wheel drive, the sheer force of the rain had turned the dry pasture into a soupy mess within minutes, and we barely managed to slip and slide our way out of the muck. My best friend Angela had crawled inside the truck as we’d loaded it in the hay barn, and after we closed the pasture gate behind us, the three of us sat in the truck ,soaking wet but not really cold. We stared at the previously well-groomed arena, at the mudpit it had now become.
I cocked an eyebrow at Angela, grinned, and nodded my head in the direction of the arena. I’m not sure how she knew what I was thinking, but she caught my intentions immediately, nodded, and grinned back.
I glanced over at Jordan coolly. “Last one in has to load the feedtruck tomorrow!” I shouted, flinging the door wide as I sprinted for the arena.
Angela followed with a whoop of laughter, Jordan following a second later and three two of us slid between the pipe rails into the slimy, ankle-deep mud of the arena. If mud had a rating system, it would have been 5 star mud… slimy, slippery and oddly soft, it was the Hyatt Regency of mud, the Bloomingdale’s of mud, the…
Oh, whatever. It was mud, and it was fun.
The three of us engaged in belly-slides and mudball fights for the greater part of an hour as the heavens dumped a deluge of warm summer rain onto us. Eventually we exhausted ourselves, energy tapering off with the rain. Panting and grinning, we sat in the arena in our uniformly brown outfits. The moment felt oddly peaceful.
“This is going to be a bear to wash off,” Angela said slightly ruefully, staring at the muddy ends of the crusty ropes of hair that hung over her shoulder.
“Yeah,” I replied. “Maybe we should just jump into the pool and wash it off.” The ranch had a pristine swimming pool that was the beloved child of one of the maintenance workers. He pampered it like a woman does a newborn, and the thought of his reaction to us jumping into the clear waters in our currently filthy state made us all laugh.
“Well,” Jordan said thoughtfully as we quieted, “There is the lake.”
The “lake” on the property was a small, manmade affair. While you could rent paddleboats and fish in it, swimming and wading was strictly prohibited.
On the other hand…. Who wants to live near a lake and never go swimming in it? The rule had always chafed me slightly. Lakes are made of water. Water is made for swimming, right?
“We could wait until dark and do it,” I said, warming to the idea.
“Why wait? Everyone’s going to be inside because of the storm. Besides, it’s almost sunset now. It’ll be dark in twenty minutes. Who’s gonna see us?” Jordan pushed himself up to a standing position, hand reaching behind him to dust the slime off his rear end in useless, automatic gesture.
I looked over at Angela, who glanced at me. We both nodded at the same time.
“Let’s cut behind through the woods and come out behind the reeds,” I said. “There’s no use being obvious about it. Security will have our heads if they catch us.”
We cut through the soggy woods, laughing as the drooping limbs of undergrowth drenched us and pulled at our clothes. We spilled out of the woods at the right spot, ducking low and peeking around before we darted to hide in the tall reeds that lined the edge of the pond.
I stared at the murky water, suddenly hesitant. The bottom of the lake was filled with long strands of algae and some kind of grass, and it looked eerily like the scene from the Lord of the Rings trilogy where the dead kings reach out skeletal hands and suck Frodo into the lake.
Jordan rolled his eyes. “Girls,” he muttered, kicking off his shoes before he strode firmly into the lake.
Not to be outdone, I followed behind him a second later, the water surprisingly warm. I did my best to ignore the unnerving feel of slimy plants grabbing at my toes, ducking low and immersing myself up to my neck. Angela followed slowly.
“Duck down,” I whispered to her. “Less chance of someone seeing you, and if you’re swimming you can’t feel the bottom with your toes.”
The three of us swam over to a secluded corner of the lake and splashed for about fifteen minutes, growing braver at the deserted ranch grounds as the sun sank behind the mountains. Because it was both the height of summer and also because of the way the mountains were situated, twilight seemed to last forever at the ranch. I breathed deep, floating on my back, filling my soul with the peace of the moment.
I’m not sure how the subject came up, but somehow in our whispered conversations, it turned out that Jordan had never skinny dipped. Never. Not by himself, not with other guys— never.
I don’t know, maybe because we were both total sluts when it came to skinny dipping (I lost my skinny-dipping-ginity at fourteen and have never looked back), but both Angela and I found Jordan’s inexperience in this area absolutely appalling. Through a series of winning arguments, threats against his manliness (complete with vague references to his cowardice and lack of genitalia) we talked him into the idea. After all, I reasoned, it’s not like we could see anything. The darkening sky had turned the water an almost inky black.
With hushed, embarrassed giggles, the three of us drifted away from each other, slowly shrugging out of our clothing. I laid my shirt on a tree branch, hung my bra on a broken reed and awkwardly peeled my way out of my pants, coughing and gagging slightly as I accidentally swallowed a gallon of lake water in the process. I paused before stripping off my underwear, glancing over at the other two. “Are you guys doing this too?” Angela nodded, wiggling beneath the water as she struggled with her heavy jeans.
Jordan nodded, then added, “I’m going to keep my boxers on, though. I don’t trust the mud here.”
Angela and I tripped over each other’s protestations in low tones, and the three of us began arguing.
“Then it’s not–“
“You’re being a wimp!”
“It’s the same thing, I’m just keeping my boxers on.”
“You have to take—”
“Not skinny dipping if you’re wearing—”
“It all a waste, otherwise—“
Suddenly, the three of us shrank down in the water, silent, the argument regarding the technicalities of skinny dipping instantly unimportant.
The sound of the security truck driving slowly along the lake had reached our ears.
“Yeah, I got reports that some kids was swimmin’ in the lake. Checkin’ it out now,” the security guard said, speaking into his radio. A staticky, garbled reply came back. “Yeah, 10-4. I’m on the east side now. I’m gonna circle round then check it out on foot. Send Jim on down to help me.”
There was no real crime to speak of on the ranch. The security guards here were usually bored out of their minds, and the excitement in the guard’s voice was evident. He just might actually get a chance to catch someone in wrongdoing– Hot damn!
Horrified, Jordan, Angela and I stared at each other. Not only was swimming not allowed, but as employees the three of us would probably be written up if we were caught. To make matters even worse, I was technically Jordan’s boss. It was a technicality we tended to ignore in the relaxed atmosphere of the stables, but I knew that management wouldn’t see it that way. I didn’t know the repercussions for breaking ranch rules and being caught naked in public with one of your employees, but I’m sure they weren’t good.
Immediately, Jordan and Angela began whispering furiously.
“We need to make a break for it! We need to run while the truck is on the far side of the lake!”
“Yeah, good plan! We’ll bolt for the bathrooms!”
“Toss me my shirt!”
Hissing at them, I swiped my hand across my neck in a furious “CUT IT OUT!” motion. The sound of their whispering sounded absurdly loud. Even the sound of the light movement of the water sounded like gunshots to me in the relative quiet of the evening. I mouthed at them, “SHUT UP”, then used my hands to motion to them, “LAY FLAT.”
With the dark of the evening I figured we could hide in the shallows of the lake. The corner we were swimming in had unusually thick foliage—willows and reeds providing a perfect cover. The density of the foliage of the shoreline made it impossible for any of the guards to peer directly into the area. I didn’t think the guards had it in them to make more than two or three rounds of the lake. We could out wait them. Time was on our side, after all. Every moment it was growing steadily darker. It just made sense to wait and hide. Once it was dark we could sneak out of the lake and then walk carefully to the bathrooms. Sprinting and running would only draw attention to us.
Jordan and Angela glanced at me as I motioned them to silence, then ignored me as if I hadn’t said a word. Technically, I hadn’t. After all, if you’re trying not to get caught, shouldn’t you be silent?
They continued arguing in loud whispers, and I decided I had a better chance of not getting caught on my own. I drifted closer to them, and hissed out, “If you guys run, fine. But I’m going to wait it out. Don’t you DARE rat on me if you get caught. You keep me out of this— I’m on my own.”
I pushed away from them and drifted silently back to my hiding spot in the reeds. I winced as the two of them splashed loudly as they struggled back into their clothing, loudly whispering the entire time. Amateurs.
They waited until the truck was on the opposite side of the lake before loudly crashing out of the water, bolting in the directions of the bathrooms. To my amazement, they actually made it.
The silence after they left was at first comforting, then oddly creepy. I could hear the sound of mosquitoes as they began to swarm around me and the occasional croak as the frogs began coming out for the night. The bats were also emerging from their daytime slumber, and had started swooping at the patches of bugs that hung around the lake. I tried to ignore the universal girl-fear that they might dive at the mosquitoes around me and get caught in my hair.
Slowly, silently, I began struggling into my pants. I’m here to let you know it’s not all that easy to pull on wet jeans, submerged in water, without making a sound.
Halfway through the long process I heard the sound of a second security truck drawing near, and I sank deep in the shallow water, spilling my hair over face in an attempt to blend in.
I was invisible.
I was silent.
I was One With the Reeds. I was Secret Ninja Becky. I was She Who Could Not be Seen. I was…
Still naked from the waist up, and SOMETHING WAS SQUIRMING UNDERNEATH ME AS I PRESSED MYSELF BELLY DOWN INTO THE MUD. I COULD FEEL ITS FRANTIC WIGGLES AS IT TRIED TO FREE ITSELF, CRAWLING SLOWLY OVER MY BARE STOMACH.
Stifling the urge to scream a ninny girl scream, I bit my lower lip, breath whistling through my nostrils in panicked little snorts. The security truck stopped and I heard the sound of the driver getting out of the car.
Of course he was getting out of the truck right by me.
Of course he was.
Of course, as he approached my hiding place to look down with a flashlight, he spooked a frog into jumping from the bank… right onto my shoulder.
Of course he did.
I felt it land on my shoulder, sliding off into the water with a soft little plop.
To this day, I still consider it one of my crowning achievements that I didn’t burst out of that lake, half-naked and screaming. I didn’t even move. I breathed through my mouth, motionless as the frog slid off my shoulder into the water, barely breathing as the guard inevitably shined the light directly at me.
I held my breath. Squirmy, my new belly friend, redoubled its efforts to escape as I tried to press down lower in the mud. I closed my eyes and tried pretend that this wasn’t happening…
I had actually left with Angela and Jordan, and I was back in the bathrooms laughing it up…
I wasn’t still trapped in the Lake of Doom… No, no…. I wasn’t there at all. I wasn’t trying to hide in shallow reeds while the guard’s flashlight swept restlessly right over me.
I wasn’t lying half naked in who-knows what, in a black lake that looked just like the swampland in the Lord of the Rings, where all the half-rotted kings with their soulless eyes tried to drag Frodo to his death, gaping mouths shouting worldless screams… necrotic skin probably squishy and pliable, just like the squirming finger-long thing that was sliding around beneath my stomach…
The guard’s radio squawked. He answered, moving his flashlight further down the willows. “Yeah, yeah, I just looked there. That’s where they saw ‘em? They ain’t there. I’m gonnna walk the lake and see if I can find them.”
I could have cried with relief. The second the guard had moved far enough away not to hear me, I pushed myself half up in the mud and Squirmy, whatever it was, darted free.
I figured if I was quick, I could finish pulling my pants on, throw on my shirt, grab my bra and run like hell for the bathrooms.
I managed phase one, wiggling the sodden jeans up over my hips.
I drifted slowly back to the place where my shirt was… and that’s exactly what I found. I found the place where my shirt WAS. I didn’t find my shirt. My bra was still hanging on the reed, but my shirt was gone. Gone. GONE, GONE, GONE. I pulled on my bra, and frantically felt around in the mud beneath the willow.
A shirt, a shirt… my kingdom for my shirt…. I had no luck. Try as I might, the shirt was nowhere to be found. Unbeknownst to me, Angela had seen it slipping off the branch and had moved it to another location before she exited the lake.
I glanced at the security truck, and then at the guard who was on the complete opposite end of the lake… and I decided to take my chances. There was no way I could survive another round of hiding in the Squirmy-infested mud while the guard tried to find me. I crawled up the bank of the lake, then decided to take my chances and cut through the area of the ranch that housed the owners’ trailers.
Trotting barefoot through the midst of the darkened trailers with my arms crossed over my itty bitty titties in their soggy bra wasn’t the most fun-filled adventure I’ve ever had, but at least I made it there without mishap. Pushing open the heavy door of the public showers, I darted into one of the shower stalls. I turned the nozzle to full blast, stripped my clothes off, then leaned back against the wall. I could hear someone else in the stall at the end.
“Becky?” Angela’s voice sounded quavery, which surprised me. I would have thought she’d had plenty of time to get over her fear of being caught.
“Well, that plan couldn’t have gone ANY worse, could it?” I asked, half smiling as I shook my head.
Instead of an answer, I heard an ominous silence from Angela’s stall.
I didn’t like her tone. I didn’t like her tone at all.
“What is it? Just say it, whatever it is, Angela.”
“Ummm. Is the mud coming off of you?” she sounded strangely quiet, as if she was doing her best to hold it together.
“I’ve got some stubborn specks but I’m mostly clean. Why?”
“Ummm. Look at the specks. I’m trying not to freak out here, but… are you sure it’s mud?”
I glanced down at tiny dots that clung to my skin and my belly. I picked at them with a finger, amazed at the how it clung to my skin.
I raised my arm, looking closer.
I was covered in tiny leeches.
“Angela?” I heard the horror in my voice. “Can you come give me a hand?”
You know, I’m sure that there’s a lot of dirty movies out there dedicated to two college girls taking a shower together. I’m willing to bet that there’s not a single one dedicated to two college girls taking a shower together… while pulling leeches off each other. It’s probably a good thing. Besides, it would have gotten a little monotonous after the first 20 or 30 leeches. Here is some sample dialogue:
“I found another one.”
“EWWW! Crap! Get it off! Get it off, get it off!”
“I’m trying… ewww! It’s stretching! Gross!”
“Getitoff, getitoff, getitoff, getitoff…EWW! Don’t drop it on my foot! Gross! Get it away fro me! EWWW! I see another one on your back!”
“EWWWW! Get it off of me! Now! Getitoff, getitoff, getitoff..”
And so on, and so forth.
So, there you go. That was my first co-ed “skinny dipping” event.
You’d think I might have learned my lesson and not tried for a round two.