A wedding and a skinny dip.

Ross and I went to a wedding this weekend in Maryland, land of crabs and red brick buildings. He has a whole store of old college friends scattered out through the United States, and this is one of the reasons I know I was supposed to marry him: while I excel at pleasant and charming, Ross excels at friendships.

Ross has enough very close college friends to fill the whole top floor of a hotel, which we did this weekend.

“I don’t think I’m going to get too crazy this trip,” he said.

As I watched him climb back onto the pier, naked, following two more of his naked college pals, I remembered his earlier, more solemn assurances. I smiled knowingly at a giddy bystander next to me, as if to say, boys will be boys.

“Should we jump in?” she asked.

I made a face that said, that’s a terrible idea, while my mouth said: “you want to?”

We looked at the water, we looked at the moon, we looked at my husband, comfortable in his nakedness, casually chatting with someone while slipping on his just-stripped underwear.

“I’ll do it if you will.”

I thought about the time Jason threw a surprise birthday for my best friend Kim a few years ago, on Lake Travis, with a party barge. When it got dark, the “captain” paused the boat.

Everyone got naked and jumped in the water.

The exhibitionists needed no prompting. But some had to be begged and chanted to from below. Eventually, Jason and I were the last ones, clinging to the top deck, still dry, still clothed.

“I’m not wearing a bra underneath this dress,” I explained lamely.

An enormous wet bra was passed up to me.

“Is it cold?”

A drunk shout said it felt like a bath.

I looked down at my new yellow shoes, bought specifically for this occasion. I found a dry seat to protect them, along with my dress. “Let’s jump,” I said to Jason.

He pretended not to hear me.

“I’ll do it if you will.”

Jason looked out over the water from the railing, and saw exactly what I saw: Our friends, no one’s nakedness particularly distinct from the rest. Only shiny wet skin, like a baby pool full of toddlers.

I one-armed swam over to Ross, using my other arm to hold the huge bra in place. He tread water easily, talking to two or three partially or not-at-all-clothed party guests.

“Hello,” he said in a big, welcoming way, as if he himself was host of the naked pool party.

“Hello,” I said right back, hoping to imitate his at-homeness, though with my jerky movements that was most certainly a lost cause. I tread water like a maimed duckling, with only one good wing.

“Are you having fun?” he asked with a smile, at once teasing and conspiratorial. I nodded vigorously in response, immediately dissolving all the cool I was trying to feign. This tent of a bra was tough to hold together.

“Whose is that?” someone asked.

“I have no idea,” I said.

“Nice of them to give it to you!” another piped up.

“It was,” I agreed. We all nodded in appreciation of the Good Bra Samaritan.

It was then I realized I had to pee.

The way I saw it, I could either pee on someone’s leg underwater next to me, or use my sidestroke/dog paddle hybrid to get me back to the boat and its bathroom.   The first involved the unavoidable water temperature change, alerting the victim to what I had just done to their leg; the latter meant hoisting myself up onto the boat using my one arm, the other faithfully protecting my womanhood, and in order to make the hoist successful, I would most likely have to drop the kind stranger’s bra and use my now-freed arm to complete the lift. Talk about a dilemma.

The amount of time I spent mentally weighing my options revealed something else to me.

I had seriously half-assed my way into this skinny dip.

Which went against the whole enterprise of skinny dipping.

I looked over at Ross, instantly envying his calm, sure decision-making. When we first started dating, it had taken him just a few weeks to say I love you; tonight, it took him two seconds to join our bare, happy friends in the water. I wanted to be exactly like him right then, meaning, relaxed. Not constantly fretting inside my head, not enacting humiliating little one-act plays that never came to pass, not not living in the moment.

The next time I skinny dipped, I was going full monty.

* * *

“I’ll do it if you will,” she said again next to me, standing on the pier, the wedding reception twinkling in the dark from far away.

I sucked in, felt my heart beat a little quicker. “Well …”

Ross strode by in his birthday suit.

Suddenly he announced that the water was alive. I met my friend’s wide eyes with mine, and we both laughed nervously, at the crustaceans waiting to crawl over our feet, the crabs waiting to pinch us.

“Nevermind,” she said with a warm giggle.

I walked away from my second skinny dipping opportunity. We both went inside. I sipped a glass of wine, spilled some on my dress, and laughed because I didn’t care.