The next day, I noticed James on a chair by the pool, sunbathing. He looked up and wordlessly nodded. Later that day, he again barely acknowledged me. It was as if he'd completely forgotten about the spaghetti and meatballs.
It's easy to work up an appetite after a day playing in the sun, whacking volleyballs at Sunsport, or splashing in the ocean at Haulover Beach.
On the Sunday night of the Bash, a group of naturists hit swank Clematis Street, in downtown West Palm Beach, to forage. It was a "Naked Sushi Party." Men and women walked down the sidewalk in beach garb, towels in hand. One by one, they knocked on the front door; the restaurant's windows were blocked out with paper for the night. The door slowly opened, and they slipped in, unnoticed.
A little before 7, about eight people were here, all dressed. The room had the awkward vibe of a middle school dance: They spread their towels and sarongs out on the sofas and barstools before sitting, even if they were still clothed. The bar staff remained clothed in traditional black, the sushi chef in whites. (Bar staffers later reported that naked people are just as polite and as good at tipping as clothed people.)
"Do you think we're supposed to wait?" a young brunet whispered to her husband. "Nobody else is naked."
"I don't know; I guess it's fine," he said.
"Maybe when more people get here? It's cold," she said, rubbing her arms. A few minutes later, another attendee — an alpha male — appeared naked in the corner. The husband and wife glanced at each other, stood, and slipped off their shorts and dress.
The couple, attractive brunets in their 20s, reported that they had just come from Haulover Beach — described adoringly in nudist literature as "America's best nude beach." They'd been there a few times, they said, but this was their first FYN event. The husband, a computer technician, and the wife, unemployed but looking for a gig in human resources, asked not to be named, on account of her job search.
They enjoyed their naturist experiences thus far, they said, but had reservations. What if pictures of them wound up on the internet?
"We've heard stories from other people," he said. "I'm trying to keep all that stuff about naturism away from social networks."
"People would think that we're freaks and exhibitionists," the wife added, biting her lip.
As more and more partiers arrived at the restaurant, Indiana Jones played on the flat television screen above the bar and '80s music blasted from a DJ booth in the corner. The air grew warm with the presence of bodies.
A young male went to the door fully nude and creaked it open. He poked his nose outside and called to some friends on the street.
"We can't take him anywhere," his buddies laughed.
Do couples ever feel the pangs of jealousy in a naturist setting?
Twenty-six-year-old Chris Rosenhauer, at his fourth FYN event in two years, said no.
"It was something that my wife and I were interested in," said Rosenhauer, of Nashville, Tennessee. "We just like being naked, I guess. So we started looking for places." Rosenhauer wound up attending his first naturist event without his wife because she wasn't able to make it, but she didn't get angry or jealous. "If you know the people, you know it's not any different than hanging out with your friends. Robbe does a real good job making it just about having fun."
But what about single nudists who are into each other? How would a naturalist flirt or make a first move without seeming creepy?
A couple of nudists who didn't want to be named explained the bare essentials of nudist courtship to me: Eye contact is key, one said. When you're in a naturist environment, if you are there for the wrong reasons, you will stick out like a sore thumb.
"Staring at body parts is sure to turn anyone off," the guy continued. "If you want to genuinely get to know someone and take it from there, make sure to be respectful. This is not saying that there are never people coming into a naturist environment trying to find someone to hook up with. That being said, if you are one of these people — don't assume that's what everyone else is there to do. Most people are there to have fun without sexual expectations." And nudists definitely do not like being mistaken for swingers.
Does nudity ever get old? Is there still sexual attraction if you see your partner naked all the time? "Sexuality does not start with nudity," he schooled me. "Yes, most people are nude when they have sex, but most people use body language and touch to get to the nudity part before the sex even starts. Sex lives stay the same; you keep them private just as you would in any other environment. Seeing nude people all the time does not make sex less exciting; it allows you to create more respect for the human body. When you have more respect for people, your love life tends to be more fulfilling."