“You Look Very Comfortable, Man”

The heat index was over 100 one afternoon in July of last year, the water level was too low for canoeing, and I had my tent set up on a sandbar where I’d never seen people fishing and which was out of sight of the main trail. Besides, who would be out in this heat? So I felt safe roaming around without worrying about how far away my clothes were.

I was sitting on a log in the water in the shade of an overhanging tree when I noticed motion in the corner of my eye. Without looking directly towards them—so I could pretend I hadn’t seen them yet if it seemed prudent to do so—I saw two people casting fishing lines and slowly working their way upstream towards me. The one in front was barechested, but the one behind seemed to be wearing something on their upper body. I thought it best to cover up for a male-female couple who were going to pass right by me. Still not looking towards them, I got up and slowly ambled toward my campsite. They must have gotten a good look at my butt as I walked away from them. The idea wasn’t to conceal the fact that I’d been naked, just to be courteous to the lady.

But there must be something wrong with my peripheral vision. After pulling my gym shorts out of the tent and slipping them on, I saw as I walked back to the log that they were both hard-bodied young men.

I asked how the fishing was going.

“Not very good here, but it should be better upstream,” one of them replied as they continued walking. Now that could mean let’s get away from the pervert. But then again, casting and walking is a common way to fish in a river. And from the way both of these dudes were wearing their boardies, their tan lines (if any!) must have been far lower than mine had ever been back when I did have tan lines, so I don’t think they were afraid of the human body.

They continued on their way. Now I knew there was no good place to climb out of the river and reach the road for quite a ways, so it was likely they would return later in the afternoon. I resolved to stay naked for the next encounter with them.

But when I heard someone approaching from upstream, it turned out to be a different fisherman. This was a longhaired young man wearing shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. This garb struck me as unsuitable for the heat, but maybe it was for protection against sunburn.

I was sitting on a different log this time, half in the water, with branches hanging in front of my face.

He actually greeted me first.

I replied, “Hi. How are they biting?”

“I caught a couple of suckers earlier, but it’s pretty hot for fishing.”

“Too hot to wear clothes,” I said.

“There you go!” he smiled. “But... aren’t you worried about snapping turtles?”

I skipped the lecture about how I’d never seen snapping turtles here and anyway it is your toes and fingers that are at risk regardless of what you aren’t wearing. Instead I just said, “Nah, I’m not worried. I’m pretty relaxed. This is the only way to beat the heat on a day like this.” Then I added, much more direct that I usually get with a stranger, “You should try it sometime.”

He pondered and then with an air of finality said, “Maybe.” Then he asked whether I minded if he fished in the river near me.

Now I am always grateful when people who were at the river first don’t mind me skinnydipping, so of course I said, “Sure, no problem.” We were just two Iowans figuring out how to enjoy our natural areas in different but compatible ways.

I wished him good luck at fishing, and he replied with sincere thanks.

He continued to cast his line, slowly wading downstream and away.

After sundown I came out from under the trees and hung out on the 20-foot wide sandbar in front of my tent.

It was still very warm. The heat, together with the distance from vegetation, kept the mosquitoes away. So I was still very comfortable in my skin.

I was sitting on my towel at the river’s edge, drinking bottled water, when I heard the unmistakable sound of oars scraping on a canoe.

Anyone out on the river this late (it was about 8:45 PM and nearly dark) and in such unsuitable water was certainly male and probably under 25, and maybe they’d been drinking—all of which were good signs they probably wouldn’t object to my nudity. So I didn’t make even a token effort to be discreet but let it all hang out, ambling back from my tent to my towel with another bottle of water.

When the first canoe drew near me, one of the men (yes, they were under 25, but they weren’t drunk) asked me, “How far is it to Soper’s Mill?”

“Under a mile,” I replied. “How far have you come?”

“We put in at E-18 this afternoon, but it’s been pretty slow going.”

And indeed it was. They frequently hopped out of the canoe to slide it through stretches of water only two inches deep. They must have been out of the canoe more than in it.

As the second canoe approached, I called out, “I hope you get to Soper’s Mill while you can still see where you’re going!”

“Thanks,” one of the dudes replied. Then, seeing my tent, he asked, “Are you camping out here?”

“Yep.” I was about to say how I enjoy getting away from it all, including getting away from clothing, but the dude spoke up again before I could get to add all that.

“You look real comfortable, man.”

Now I haven’t been one to throw a spontaneous boner in a non-sexual situation since I was a teenager, but my cock started to thicken when I heard that. “I am,” I said. “This is the best way to dress in this heat.” And as they drifted past I added, “Have a good evening.”

“Thanks,” he said sincerely. “You too.”

And we all did, each doing what we like to do in a heat wave.