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Ian Brown's naked lunch and naked breakfast Add to ...

The shortcoming of eating nude in public, so to speak, is pockets. There are none. It is not possible, after paying for one's breakfast of bacon and eggs in a nude restaurant, to slip one's credit card back into one's pocket, because one does not have a pocket. The upper cleft of one's behind, yes – the AmEx could go there. But it's not the first place that comes to mind.

Your correspondent can report this: Out of Toronto at the outset of a cross-country eating tour, he decided to have dinner at the Bare Bistro, a nudist restaurant and bar operated by the Bare Oaks Family Naturist Preserve. Naturism, to quote the Federation of Canadian Naturists, which is holding its annual fiesta there next weekend, is “the practice of complete nudity in a communal setting.”
Your correspondent was surprised to be met at the reception desk by two stark-naked women in their early 20s.

“Have you ever been to a facility like this?” one asked.

“Not in North America,” I burbled.

I had already committed a faux pas: I had worn my clothes to the reception desk. One is supposed to disrobe in the car, and then make one's way nude to the desk.

Bare Oaks is philosophically high-minded where bare-nakedness is concerned, and therefore clothing-non-optional: Unlike at many nudist resorts, patrons of Bare Oaks don't have the option of wearing clothes. If you feel cold you can wear a shirt, but under virtually no circumstances are your genitals to be covered (I suppose hail might be an exception).

Covering one's business conveys a sense of shame, and a sense of shame is the last thing anyone wants to see in a camp that purports to have none. You are certainly not allowed to wear anything in the restaurant.

There was a sign over the door: “Happiness is … no tan lines. Family naturist resort.”

To my chagrin, the restaurant was closed for the day.

But if I stayed overnight, the naked receptionist explained, I could have breakfast and lunch the next day.

I must have said yes. The truth is, I think I managed to hypnotize myself by staring so resolutely into her eyes and nowhere else.

I went to my room, took off my clothes, and stepped back out into the hall, where I immediately collided with a woman in her 70s, also starkers.

Let me say this about public nudity: It has a lot going for it, especially if you don't know any of the other naked people. Taking off your clothes among strangers, you take off your past as well and, fairly quickly, most of your shame. It's easy to fall into naturist ways.

Ian Brown eats Canada

I walked out to the sunning area with my book and read for an hour in a pink Adirondack chair. The only problem with reading while nude in an Adirondack chair is, where do you put your book – above or below your genitals? Or on your genitals? It's hard to decide.

Bullfrogs were burping in the rushes by my feet. Across a small pond, two hazelnut-brown naked men in their late 50s were building and filling raised gardening beds.

They were wearing boots, kneepads, caps and nothing else. For $40 a season, you can rent a plot, and garden in the buff. It's a popular pastime.

Both men had the builds of former bikers, that is, mountains on legs. One was carrying a hatchet, while the other shouted, “Bring the front end loader over!” Eating nude may be unusual, but shouting nudists are more so. Naked is human enough, perhaps.

I got up and went for a walk, nude, through the resort. There were nude people here and there – a woman walking out of a lake, an old guy talking on his cellphone – but nobody cared one way or another.

After a while I started to ask myself why I didn't live this way all the time. After a while longer I started to get bored.

I thought to myself, “Hmm, I think I'll go back to my room and put some pants on” – bzzzzt, not allowed. So I went for another walk, and for a swim, and sunned on a deck (there was a nude guy on shore reading The Globe and Mail: talk about your cultural disconnect!), and walked some more.

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