To my left were four naked friends, to my right were the cops. It was clear we had made a bad decision. We stood at an in-pass. The cops didn’t want to try to arrest us (we were naked and underage) and we didn’t want to run into the ominous looking woods behind us. In hindsight I think we made the wrong decision, we chose the woods.
Growing up, I was a weird kid. (Still am) I thought too much and had my own way of doing things. Luckily, my friends were the exact same way. We didn’t smoke or drink for most of our High School years so we found other ways of entertaining ourselves.
While other kids were hanging out with cheerleaders or football players, we were figuring out how many times we could drive around the local roundabout before getting pulled over (116), finding new hot tubs to sneak into (a lot), or throwing dance parties in our own personal basement club (The 311 room).
We also streaked.
At around age 16 my group of friends started an official streaking (naked running) club. We started with five members in May (Thus the name, Streak-o de Mayo) and eventually grew into a full crew of males and females.
The premise was simple. Strip down to nothing except for socks and shoes and follow the person running in front.
The rules were even simpler.
- Your first naked run must be really long (mine was 6 miles/9.7 km)
- As soon as you turn 18, you are out of the club (at that point, public nudity is classified differently and becomes a felony!)
- Don’t touch anything or anyone :-)
It was always a good workout because everyone participating would do everything humanly possible not to be left behind. This was a workout you couldn’t take lightly. The stakes were just too high.
On this particular night we made a notable innovation. We picked out fastest friend (Greg), duct taped a speaker and iPod to his back, turned on some music and sent him running.
The first 15 minutes were fun. Everyone was confused, sweaty and having a good time. (a lot like an orgy… except we weren’t actually touching :-/ ).
All of this changed when our running leader, Greg chose to take a right rather than our normal left. This was a bit unexpected because the right turn led directly down the busiest street in our city. From our high vantage point at the top of the road we could clearly see the city police station. This ended up not being as reassuring as we had thought.
Half way down the hill we saw the police leave the station and head in our direction. People driving by had clearly not appreciated our athleticism. :-p
We went behind the closest building and regrouped slightly scared and entirely naked. Slowly the cop car pulled into our not so hidden hiding place.
Unsure of what to do, we stood motionless. Awkwardly the Spice Girls blared from Greg’s back-speaker.
“So tell me what you want, what you really, really want!”
We all wanted to get the hell out of our current situation.
For better or worse, we stuck to the plan. Greg, our running leader, looked at the cops and then looked at the woods behind us. He made an executive decision.
It would be thorny brush rather than extremely awkward jail time.
Dutifully, we followed our leader into the brush. This was instantly followed by yelps of pain. It turns out that the naked human body has a lot of surface area for getting cut by branches and thorns.
The group got separated in the woods and individually we ran like we had never run before. I simultaneously found a new top speed and a new appreciation for my quirky friends.
That night we didn’t end up getting arrested. We partially regrouped and most of us continued the run for about another 4 miles (6.4 km).
Since that night, many years have passed. When I look back on it, it brings me to a time in my life when I felt incredibly free and light. My perspective was still small, my responsibilities were near non-existent and the world was literally my playground to run around naked in.
As I think about how my life has evolved, I smile. As each new word has been written of the story of my life, the experiences seemed, in that moment, to be paramount. Each new worry, struggle, win and loss has consistently seemed incredibly urgent. Looking back, I know that this is only true before the feeling has passed.
But there are some moments that keep their importance. The normal rules don’t apply when something new is created. Be it new friends, new ways of being or even new ways to hurt yourself in the woods.
The mileposts on the road of life are created by the stories you create, not the nights you got plenty of sleep.
It is those stories that are precious enough to remember, it is those stories that become important enough to share.
Image is of a sports fan at the Talladega 500. I couldn’t find a photo from the events mentioned in the post. We didn’t have clothes… much less a camera :-)