Skinny dippin’ at the Mullet Hole, Rutledge • Alvin Richardson
I’m probably going to get in trouble with Mama for talking about this publicly but let’s just try to sneak it in. Maybe she won’t see it. If she does catch wind of it and rebukes me I will get revenge by telling a tale on her.
A rite of passage in a young fella’s life is going swimming butt nekkid (as Lewis Grizzard would say) and I was no exception. My introduction to this invigorating activity did, however sneak up on me. I had never heard of such a thing until I took to hanging out with the older guys. Messing around with 13-year-olds when you are only 10 will usually result in troublesome repercussions.
One day the boys were bored and someone suggested going to the Mullet Hole. This was a remote, foreboding place that I had heard of, but never actually seen. It was at the far reaches of Lake Rutledge where the water flooded over a spillway and flowed into Hard Labor Creek. Our bicycle gang immediately headed for the creek and, upon arrival to my utter astonishment everyone began to unclothe themselves. At that point I wasn’t sure what was going to take place and my stomach churned as fear and skepticism crept in. When the little heathens began jumping in the picture became clear and my discomfort grew exponentially.
At this juncture in the proceedings peer pressure began to mount as the guys hooted at my fully clothed body but at that point in my life I had never before contemplated taking my britches and underwear off in front of a bunch of people. I wasn’t really in favor of showing off my skinny little behind to a collection of ruffians.
I pause here to mention that skinny dipping at that particular moment in history was considered risqué. In today’s world it would rate as fairly normal but to me it was not only risqué but risky. If Mama caught a whiff of this it would be lights out for me. Not only would I receive a severe scolding and thrashing, but would be required to sit on the front pew of the church for the rest of my life and put part of my allowance in the collection plate.
I considered these things briefly and then reluctantly began to undress. There was no way I could honorably back down now. The final garment hit the ground and I speedily made my way to the water where I sheepishly plunged in to the delight of the gang.
Now began my education on the categories of skinny dipping. I quickly discovered that there were two major groupings. Group one consisted of those (like me) who were timid and who would remain safely in the water for the entire session. These I categorized as “swimmers/splashers.” Group two was made up of those who spent most of their time on the shore strutting about like peacocks. These I classified as “bank walkers." At first I could not quite figure out the “bank walker” mentality but it readily became obvious and this confirmed my status as a member of the former category.
Luckily, no girls showed up at this gathering and I could not have been more relieved. I really didn’t want to shrivel up to nothingness waiting on them to leave because there was no way a “swimmer/splasher” like myself was going to exit the creek with females around.
In retrospect I have theorized that skinny dipping was probably the forerunner of a modern activity that became known as “streaking.” Streaking actually became a spectator sport later during my college years; a sport in which I did not take an active part. As I said earlier, we of the “swimmer/splasher” status are well known for our reluctance to disrobe in front of an audience. I don’t know the category under which male streakers became known but I bet they were “bank walkers” in their early lives.
Printed in the June 7, 2012 edition