It has been years since I have visited Baker Beach – the famous clothing optional strand within the San Francisco city limits – and I am excited. SF gets nice weather – the nicest, I think – in September when fog gives way to brief, but much needed, “Indian Summer.” Mika, the dog I am sitting, is a nudist and she is equally excited to beach while her parents are out of town. She and I climb into Dusty, who is now furry inside, and head to the oceanfront park inside what used to be the SF Presidio.
We find parking quickly, which is unusual on a warm weekend day, and make the short walk to the shore. As we hit the sand, Mika overflows with excitement. She looks at me, the beach, then back at me. Seeming to beg “let me off this leash,” I unhook her from the chains of bondage around her neck. She takes off running down the beach after a tennis ball – the back of her butt looks like a bunny hopping feverishly down the sand; it’s cute and comical at the same time. “Beautiful dog,” one passerby comments.
Mika loves to play catch, but with a twist. I throw the ball, she runs bunny-butt style down the beach and even into the oncoming surf; she chomps on it a few times, turns around to look at me, then drops the ball and walks away. “Get your ball,” I shout, to which she continues walking the other way. As I run up to grab the ball before it is forever lost to the unforgiving sea, she turns back around (as if she hasn’t been watching), takes the ball in her mouth and takes off running down the beach. I wonder whose game we’re playing: mine or hers? Another person notes: “nice dog! Corgi?”
Besides the nudists, a prominent feature of Baker Beach is the view of Golden Gate Bridge. It looms large and magnificent to the north, just beyond the rocks where nudist pose and sun themselves. Mika’s game of catch leads us forward in that direction. We reach the clothing optional section and notice people of all shapes, ages and colors basking in the sun. There is different energy about a naturalist beach. Sunbathers seem friendly and uninterested in the standard of beauty displayed on the newsstand. It’s refreshing. In fact, I sometimes love to check out older men, imagining for a moment what I will look like when I am eighty and naked. I pray that I live long enough to see winkles cover my war-torn chassis and lines lay deep in the foundation of a laugh-filled face.
Looking up, I notice one man with a t-shirt, and nothing else, posing on the rocks. He is next to fully-clothed Chinese tourists positioning themselves on the rocks with their children in front of the bridge. They’ll rotate with one another so everyone has a chance to have their picture taken. Naked T-shirt Man (NTM) rotates with Completely Nude Guy (CNG) as they guard and protect their claim to this area. I snap a few pictures of the bridge, tourists and nudists.
It is not long before I am surround by a small gang or what I surmise are teenage women, maybe just barely legal or even college age (it’s hard to tell from this side of forty). They are talking about Mika as if I am not there, which is a bit strange, in the worse form of Valley Girl dialect I have heard yet.
Girl #1: “Oh, he’s [sic] so cute, I wonder what his name is?”
Girl #2: “I wonder if he’s friendly.”
Girl #3: “Oh my gawd, I want that dawg.”
Girl #2: “Totally, I want that dawg.”
They continue this banter for a short time. Mika ignores them and plays in the surf. “Good dog,” I think to myself. Finally, the threesome discuss something else – shopping, I think.
A few moments pass and the banter from the gaggle starts again. “Man, I wish I had brought the pot that I left at home for us to smoke.” One of the girls says this loud enough for me, and the two men (NTM & CNG) on the opposite rocks, to hear. Some sort of San Francisco Gen Y mating call? Another moment passes and their conversation continues, again as if I am not there:
Girl #1: “he’s kind of cute.”
Girl #2: “you mean thaaaat one in the hat?” (I scan and I’m the only dude in visual distance wearing a hat)
Girl #1: “uh, yeah”
Girl #3: “I’d tap that.”
Girl # 1 and #2 together: “yeah, I’d definitely tap that.”
Suddenly, I think I know how women feel when walking past a group of cat-calling construction workers. I am being objectified, right here on the nude beach in San Fran. I can’t believe what I am hearing!
Just as the future ladies of the night are about to (gasp) ask me a direct question, a wave douses Mika. She runs up onto the beach and shakes it off. I laugh and the girls do too. Saved by a wave. I walk up to get Mika. Glancing up at the CNG on the rocks, I notice he is completely shaved down under. I wonder to myself why guys do that – it leads to nothing but pimples and uncharacteristic scratching for me. He nods (and I swear winks) at me knowingly and then looks at the girls. I shudder, then collect my Corgi companion to we make our way back down the beach to the safety of Dusty. “Pretty dog” someone shouts as we exit the beach.