March 10, 2009

The Naked Nanny

I have written in the past about growing up on a farm. I haven't provided a lot of the details, as they just weren't relevant to many of my stories. Plus, they really are quite unusual. My family may also be aghast that I still tell these tales.

Mama was the last of the hippies. Her dream was to live off the land. Papa Fresh was a sales guy & all around wheeler dealer. (This probably explains why they didn't remain married as well was why I have a lot of different influences). Papa’s solution to Mama's dream was a farm just large enough to qualify for tax benefits. Mama decided to grow organic produce.

That meant lots of work. Weeding by the bucketful, hand picking bugs off plants versus spraying poison on them, and composting all the garden scraps. It also means there wasn't much time left to parent. We children had live in nannies. I grew up with assorted young women living in our home from the time I was 8 until about 12. Consider who would want to live on an organic vegetable farm in the 70s. We had the most unusual cast of Bohemian characters living with us. I think in total, we had 7 or 8 different girls. Some didn't last more than a few weeks, but one of them stayed for 2 years. Never Mary Poppins, unless Mary Poppins grew plants in a tin foil encased old VW behind one of the barns. During that era, I learned how to do batik printing, how to tan a sheepskin, how to play the dulcimer, and... how to skinny dip.

Actually, we never had swimsuits. There was no point. We worked in the field, got hot and dropped our clothing at the side of the pond and jumped in. Naturally, the nannies were to supervise us and they joined in. It just was what we did. So from age 8 on, my brothers and myself were regularly exposed to bare bodies of varying sizes and shapes. One of our nannies, Laura, was a bit on the heavy side and she had an extremely large chest. We would climb onto her shoulders and dive off them, and she would joke that we could use her chest as steps.

One summer evening, at a family barbeque, complete with aunts, uncles and grandparents, all the girls (Laura included) decided to go skinny dipping. We did realize in that situation it was not appropriate to mingle the sexes, not with my uncle’s single brother, as well as a few adolescent males there. But, my uncle’s single brother thought it would be amusing to steal Laura's clothing. I don't really know why it didn't occur to me to go get more clothes for Laura, but I was just a kid, oblivious to all the undercurrent nuances of the situation. She faced a conundrum, dripping wet with her nearest clothing at the house.

Her solution was to imitate a horseless Lady Godiva. She pulled her hair forward, barely reaching the top of her breasts, and walked stark naked through the barbeque, into the house to get another outfit. She sauntered past my aunts, grandparents and cousins and also past my uncle’s brother, with a bit of sass. Everyone saw Laura's bare breasts. My grandmother and aunts were horrified that such a bad influence would be around the children. I imagine the men all wanted to avert their eyes, but still needed an rather irate elbow from their female counterpart to succeed.

A few moments later, Laura came back down in clothing and got herself a plate of (just) desserts.

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