Time to Get Nekkid

May, 2001

Well now I’ve seen everything.

I’m just driving along, minding my own business, belting out “Sin Wagon” with the Dixie Chicks, and boom! I nearly ran off the road. In the place that tried to be the village of Jeneralka, famed primarily for it’s “Country Saloon,” located on the narrow, winding road that connects the village of Nebušíce (my new home town) and Prague, I came face to face–as it were–with spring fever, Czech style.

A team of workmen were installing a new crash barrier on the road at the point at which most of us try to turn up to Nebušíce without slowing down at all in front of the aforementioned saloon. Nothing unusual about that–except for one large, middle-aged member of the crew that was doing it in workboots and skivvies. That’s right, a road crewman in droopy purple bikini briefs. Darn near buck naked. Farmer’s tan and all. And, no, it wasn’t pretty.

So I knew that spring had arrived, finally, though we were beginning to wonder if it would ever come during those April snowstorms. You can tell it’s really here because these Northern Europeans start acting funny. I saw several men downtown with no shirts on (although they were a lot easier on the eye that that workman, I can tell you!) Quite nice actually, if you’re wearing sunglasses so as not to be blinded by the glare off the pale skin. White people in the U.S. just think they’re white. Now, these people really are white. Still, Czech beer must be pretty good for muscle tone…

If you saw a guy wandering down K street in Washington with no shirt on you’d assume that he was 1.) a hick tourist, probably from Myrtle Beach, or 2.) a drunk college student or 3.) a homeless guy cooling off. But these buff young specimens were probably just grad students or bankers on their lunch hour.

Jaro je tady! proclaims every tram’s billboard, every flower shop’s sign. Spring is here.

And this is the really funny part–it’s not even hot here! 80 degrees Fahrenheit, maybe, in the full sun at midday. Perfect, really. Car-window-opening weather. Porch-sitting weather. Strolling after dinner weather. These people would melt like butter on a really hot day in the Southeastern U.S. (What did all those Czechs in Texas do? Run around nekkid all year?)

My husband loves it. When the sun finally comes out, Czech skirts gets short. Really, seriously, barely-over-the-behind short. I have to admire Czech women, I really do. When I see a woman in one of these teensy-weensy skirts I can’t help thinking of the sound she would make coming up off a hot vinyl bus seat in DC >squelch< But see, that’s what I mean. It isn’t really hot here so they don’t have to worry about it. And plenty of the tall, athletic women here can carry the microskirt look pretty well, although I just can’t imagine putting up with the inconvenience of a 3-inch hemline all day.

Yeah, yeah, American women are no fun, I know….

OK, last nekkid European story: when we first arrived, Prague was experiencing a late summer hot spell. I went downtown for the morning and my husband spent some quality time with the kids. I came home brim full of history and beauty from a day spent in the 18th century. But what did my kids learn about Europe? “Mom, we went to the park and we saw a naked man out jogging!”

Oh, really?

Turns out they went exploring in the park and came upon a “spa,” a Communist relic located on the shore of a reservoir near our house. As they approached the concrete-slab building, a man jogged across the path in Reeboks and the skin God gave him. (Wish I could have seen my husband’s face at that moment!) But that guy was no fluke. The slope leading down to the reservoir was dotted with the pale, bloated bodies of beached senior citizens, sunbathing au naturel.

Oh, but the kids laughed about that for days. And they thought it was going to be so boring over here!

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