My sisters and I the year this story takes place, 1996. Left to right: Danielle (14), Franciska (we call her Lacey) (10), and me (16).
During my high school years, it became a family tradition to go camping at El Dorado Lake every summer. And from that tradition sprung another one amongst my sisters and myself: skinny dipping in the lake after dark. (Note to parents: if your young daughters ever ask to go swimming after dark, be on the alert! Our own parents were never aware of our shenanigans.)
No, we weren’t so bold as to strip nude at the beach at noon with everyone gawking, and we weren’t even so bold as to fling off our swimsuits on the beach even after it got dark. Rather, once it was pitch black, save for the moonlight and starlight, and the swimming area was completely deserted, we would enter the water with suits on, then pull them off once we were safely submerged in the murky depths. We managed to convince ourselves we were brave, bold, and ridiculously rebellious to dare to be naked in a public place, despite the fact that we never gave anyone even a glimpse of our nude bodies.
The last time we went “skinny dipping,” I offered to hold onto everyone’s suits so that they could swim more freely, and my sisters foolishly handed theirs over once we were in the water. We swam around a bit, and as you can imagine, it’s not easy holding onto three bathing suits while swimming or paddling water. Suddenly Danielle jerked, and her eyes got really wide.
“Something just slithered past my ankle!” she cried in alarm.
We all freaked out and swam like crazy to get away from the slimy underwater creature that was surely coming at us with teeth bared, ready to bite us in all manner of unprotected places. Then Danielle’s eyes got even wider as she came to a different conclusion.
“Do you still have all the swimsuits?” she asked.
My eyes mirroring hers, I raised them up out of the water, and we all quickly did a visual count.
One pair of bikini bottoms was definitely missing. Danielle’s bikini bottoms. The underwater creature had just been identified, which caused a new kind of horror amongst us.
We walked all around the area where they had last slithered, feeling around the bottom, to no avail. We finally had to face the facts. Danielle was going to have to walk back to camp. With no bikini bottoms. Without even a towel to shield her poor, glistening, white butt.
When we could put it off no longer, Lacey and I got dressed and Danielle pulled her bikini top back on, looking rather pathetic. We situated her between us to hide her the best we could while we walked what seemed like five miles back to camp. We were as quiet as we could be and had a few close calls, but if anyone saw us in the moonlight, they were polite enough not to give a cat call or outright laugh. We managed to even evade our parents, and keep the secret of what happened between us so they wouldn’t know what we had been up to.
The following day, Lacey and I were swimming (poor Danielle was back at camp, now unable to swim…thus proving I’m a horrible sister because I should have been the one not swimming while she wore my suit), and a woman suddenly thrust a pair of blue bikini bottoms in the air and shouted at her friends to, “look what I found!”
I screamed loud enough to raise the dead and started running as fast as anyone can run under water, screaming the whole way. “Oh, thank you! I’ve been looking for those everywhere! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!”
I snatched the blue bottoms out of her hands and left her bewildered in my wake, as I ran out of the water and beat a victorious trail back to camp as fast as my legs could carry me. I wish I would have looked back to see the reaction I left behind while the entire beach tried to figure out why those bottoms had been in the water in the first place. Their conclusions were probably not as innocent as we were, I’m sure!
And now you know why that was the last time we went “skinny dipping.” Young people, you see, can learn from their mistakes, if the consequences are drastic or embarrassing enough. :)
The only swimming photo I have of us is when Danielle and I swam ghetto-style in the street when it flooded in 1988:
The closest photo I have is the right time of year (although two years prior to the missing bottoms incident), the right location (El Dorado Lake’s swimming area) but the wrong girls! This is me (far right) with two friends whose names I’ll keep private to protect their reputations. :)