I used to love to go skinny dipping. Usually with a drink in to get the inhabitation out. Usually with some girl I was after and sadly some other guys who were after the same girl. And usually in a dank pond or Lake Erie or both. In 1994, during the Perseid meteor shower, I dipped in the Atlantic Ocean just outside of Boston. No story there. I was in and out just to say that I had been in both the left and the right oceans. It was in 1992 while working in Alaska that I went skinny dipping in the Pacific Ocean and lived this story.
Taylor was a big guy. He was genetically large and worked out on top of that. I only saw him get red once and that was resolved quickly when the cause of the red left the bar at a faster than medium pace. Taylor worked with me in a salmon canning factory in Ketichikan, Alaska. Taylor’s job at the fish cannery was to pull the full carts of freshly steamed canned salmon out of the retort ovens. He’d push around a whole series of loaded carts like they were empty. Dude was big.
We were drinking on the barge one night after work. We drank on the barge every night and this was just another one of those nights. Taylor took a lot of vitamins and supplements and he was sharing his niacin with me. I took a few and washed them down with some beer. He said, “You might start to feel hot.” In about ten minutes I thought my skin was going to peel off. He laughed and said that was normal. I haven’t taken any niacin since. Later in the night when we were all a bit more drunk than normal, Taylor suggested we take a drive to the beach. Three of us said yes, which would make a total of four except that on the way out we grabbed one more. I forget her name, but she was the second best looking girl at the cannery and I drunkenly thought I had a chance. (Sue was the best looking girl. She won’t be mentioned again.)
Taylor had a late 70’s Suburban. He had driven in up the Al-Can from California. I’m pretty sure 25% of the Suburban is still on the Al-Can in bits and pieces. We all got in and drove about five miles to the beach. We had to wind down the South Tongass Highway to the end of the island. In route we mistakenly turned into an empty lot beside the road that Taylor thought was the gravel road to the beach. In that dirt lot was an abandoned car with doors. He spun back out, drove on and got to the end of the road which happened to be the beach.
The beach was actually sandy. I was expecting jagged edges and boulders. We drank beer and ran through the waves. With my shoes off, I could drag my bare feet thorough the sand and scare up the microbes that glow in the dark. Though I didn’t know the word at the time, it was a bit surreal. Which of course is the best time to go skinny dipping. I tried to talk 2nd best looking girl into stripping down, but she said no more than once. So I stripped down and ran in the waves thinking that others would follow. About fifteen feet into the water, the absolute cold snuck its way past the beer and leftover niacin and tickled the little bit of sense I had left. Squealing like a little girl or a twenty one year old boy with shriveled testicles, I splashed to the shore. In my earlier haste to strip down, my clothes ended up getting wet. At this point I realized that I was very, very cold from the water and the warm beer feeling from earlier was very, very replaced by the knowledge that it was only about sixty degrees out. I put on my wet clothes and ran to the Suburban.
More realizations were handed out when we started driving back and Taylor said the heater in the Suburban didn’t work. I forgot about 2nd best looking and curled up just trying to keep warm. Maybe I should have thought about niacin, but I didn’t have the opportunity with Taylor slamming his Suburban into the abandoned car. On the way back to the cannery, Taylor remembered the abandoned car in the huge dirt lot and decided to crash into it. He did several times and then things got fun. One of the guys jumped out and opened the driver’s side door. Taylor drove into it from behind at about 20 mph. It snapped off more than a lot. I got out of the back seat to watch the passenger side door get bent impossibly backwards, but not broken off. We three tried to push it into a slammable position, but it wouldn’t budge. Taylor nudged the mighty Suburban right on the door edge and tried a bit of horsepower on it. That didn’t do anything but shove the car, stiff wheels protesting, backwards. That gave Taylor a great idea. He positioned his truck front bumper to the front bumper of the abandoned car and pushed it backwards, faster and faster. At a point, all the wheels stopped resisting and started to roll. Taylor slammed on his breaks and the car flew solo across the road and slammed, with a satisfying, glass breaking crunch into some trees. I had forgotten I was cold.
This story ends with me remembering I was cold. Taylor had fucked up his transmission in all the pushing and destruction. He spent twenty minutes between the driver and passenger seat, drunkly fixing the problem as I regained my shivers. He drove in first gear all the way home. Standing in the barge showers, fully clothed, I thought to myself that at some point in my life I should go skinny dipping in the Atlantic Ocean. Hopefully during warmer weather. Possibly during a meteor shower.