Here’s my entry for Esme’s Senior Salon this week. Why not give it a try?
Something my mother-in-law said many years ago gave me the inspiration to write this story. She told me that when she lived in her previous house, one evening every week was given over to the naturists to shop in their local supermarket. Not that mother-in-law ever went along to these evenings though…or did she? Anyway, it’s a bit of a laugh for you for Monday morning!
HAPLESS IN HAPPISDENE
Copyright Stevie Turner 2016
“So……you’ve got your English degree, you can conjugate verbs, use an Oxford comma, and you’ve even self-published a novel. More importantly, what can you do for the Happisdene Mercury that hasn’t been done before?”
Becky Morris regarded the overweight slob sitting across the other side of the desk from her with distaste as it raised one nicotine-stained forefinger in her direction. Willing the interview to end, she replied with the first thought that came into her head.
“Probably nothing by the sound of it.”
There was a sudden and distinct change in the editor’s offhand manner. He rose to his feet, smoothed back a lock of greasy brown hair, smiled, and then extended his right hand towards her.
“I like it! You can start on Monday; I’ve got just the thing for you to sink your teeth into. It’s a story on a plate, so to speak.”
This was not the reaction that Becky was expecting at all. Thrown off her guard, she wracked her brain for the most diplomatic way to inform Eddie Harrison that he could insert his job offer where the sun refused to shine.
“Oh…well, thanks very much!”
“See Marjorie on your way out.” The editor’s mobile phone buzzed and he gave it a cursory glance. “She’ll deal with all the paperwork.”
“’Morning Becky; ready to start, then?”
Becky mused how Eddie’s appearance had not improved any since the previous week.
“Sure; what have you got for me?”
“Sit yourself down.” Eddie was geniality personified. “It’s all happening after hours tonight at Freshfare; you know the supermarket on Church Road?”
“Yes, I know it.” Becky nodded. “What’s going on then?”
She noticed Eddie glancing down and busying himself with some paperwork on his desk. Without making eye contact he carried on speaking in an overly-cheerful tone.
“Well, it’s a new venture. It looks like they’re now catering for our local naturist community on Monday nights.”
Becky was instantly suspicious as to just what she was expected to investigate. She felt a heartsink moment approaching.
“Yeah.” Eddie riffled through a file of papers. “Monday night is nudist shopping night.”
“You’re joking, right?” Becky looked for a hint of a smile on Eddie’s face. “What’s the point of that? I mean…where are they going to put their money?”
“I’m perfectly serious.” Eddie looked up at her. “It’ll be a great article for the Happisdene Mercury. Spend the morning sorting out your desk and finding out what’s what, and then you can take the afternoon off and work this evening. Trot along to Freshfare about 7pm when the fun starts. I look forward to a great write-up tomorrow.”
She had never seen shutters on the supermarket windows before. Nervous and sweating slightly, Becky announced herself to a rather stocky bouncer on the main door, who she was relieved to find was fully clothed.
“I’m from the Happisdene Mercury; I’m here to write an article on the naturist shopping night.”
The bouncer ushered her into the lobby.
“Wait here. I’ll contact the manager for you and he’ll be down presently.”
She could not see out into the street at all, and the inner sliding doors to the supermarket itself were closed. She decided to wait amongst tidy lines of stacked trolleys for her next instructions. After a short time the door slid open and a short, balding and effervescent man in a pinstripe suit appeared.
“Welcome! You’re from the local newspaper I hear. I’m Peter Willis, the manager.”
Becky hoped her hand wasn’t too sweaty as she extended her right arm.
“Hi, I’m Becky Finbow. Yes, I’m here to write an article for the Happisdene Mercury.”
“Well!” Peter Willis threw an arm around expansively. “In you come and speak to the customers then, but I have to tell you they won’t like it that you’re dressed.”
Becky looked on in horror as an overweight and naked middle-aged man placed a small sack of King Edward potatoes into his trolley and sauntered on towards a pile of sprouts.
“I’d rather just talk to you actually, and keep my clothes on.”
Peter Willis shook his head.
“Nonsense! I can’t help you; you’ll have to speak to the customers themselves to find out why on earth they want to go shopping in the buff. Changing rooms are next to the toilets. No clothes allowed on the shop floor on Monday nights apart from the checkout girls. It’s up to you of course, but I’m just providing a service. There’s nothing more I can tell you I’m afraid.”
In her mind the outline of a story began to take shape, causing Becky to briefly imagine presenting her finished article to Eddie, thereby sticking up two fingers to him in the nicest possible way.
“Right then; I’ll get on with it.”
The female changing room felt overly-warm, as indeed did the shop floor when Becky eventually plucked up enough courage to saunter out dressed only in her birthday suit and sandals, with a notepad and pen tucked under her arm. Soothing trolley music played in the background, scores of naked people wandered about, and Becky swallowed nervously before trotting over to a balding fifty-something man weighing loose carrots.
“Good evening. I hope you don’t mind me interrupting your shopping. I’m Becky Finbow from the Happisdene Mercury.”
With difficulty she resisted the urge to look down. The man placed a handful of carrots in a plastic bag and smiled.
“Hello dear. I’m Norman Matthews. Pleased to meet you.”
As Norman began picking over a tray of tomatoes, Becky wracked her brain for the best way to begin.
“Er….I’m doing an article for the newspaper on the naturist community here in Happisdene. Would you mind answering a question please?”
“Glad to be of assistance my dear.” Norman stood up tall and proud and inched closer. “Ask away.”
Becky heaved a sigh of relief and tried to forget the fact that Norman’s penis was swinging about very near her personal space. She took the tiniest step backwards.
“Mr Matthews….why do you like to do your shopping naked?”
She saw a look of surprise pass over his features, and he cleared his throat.
“Well, my dear. I’ve been a naturist for nigh on twenty years. I detest the feel of clothes, and like to walk about in the nude as often as I can. There’s quite a few of us in tonight, as you’ll find out. We like the freedom that full nakedness brings.”
Becky scribbled down a few notes and took another step back.
“Thanks very much. I’ll leave you in peace now. Is it okay if I mention you by name?”
“Of course.” Norman smiled. “Everyone knows I like to walk about in the suit that Mother Nature gave me.”
She carried on past the fruits and vegetables towards a slim naked lady in her forties with short brown hair, who leaned unconcernedly against her trolley in the wine section. Becky kept her eyes on the woman’s face and smiled.
“Hello. Would you mind answering some questions for my article please? I’m Becky Finbow from the Happisdene Mercury.”
The words sounded slurred. Becky smiled sweetly, apologised, and moved swiftly on, hoping that the woman would remember to dress herself again before staggering home with her purchases. Further down the wine section was another lady in her forties holding a wire basket.
“Hello.” Becky started to feel more confident. “I’m Becky from the local newspaper. I’m writing an article on the supermarket’s naturist shopping night. Would you mind answering a few questions please?”
The woman smiled at her and Becky relaxed further.
“Not at all. I’m Anne Riley. What do you want to ask?”
“Well…er….for a start I’m interested as to why you like walking around naked.”
“Ha ha!” The woman laughed. “It’s probably because I’m a naturist! You’re only naked tonight because you have to be, but I actually like it. There’s nothing sexual in it; I just don’t like clothes.”
“So you don’t think it strange to walk about like this?” Becky looked around as a couple, naked as they day they were born and deep in conversation, steered their trolley around her.
“Not at all.” Anne Riley shrugged. “What’s wrong with the human body? It’s the most amazing machine that absolutely needs to be unencumbered by clothing. Don’t you feel totally free tonight?”
Becky had a think and decided that actually yes, she did have the weirdest sensation of being as light and as free as a bird. She did not feel threatened at all, and none of the men so far had been looking at her in a sexual way.
“You’re right!” Becky grinned at Anne. “I’ve never done this before. It’s a pity we can’t walk about like this outside.”
“Come and join our group. We hire the Memorial Hall in Ryland Road on Thursday evenings. There’s about forty of us just chatting and having a laugh for a couple of hours. It’ll cost you a fiver. No clothes of course, but bring a towel to sit on. Norman comes along; I saw you talking to him earlier.”
“Great. I might do that.” Becky scribbled frantically in her notebook. “Can I mention you in my article?”
“Sure.” Anne nodded. “Happy to be of help.”
Feeling strangely energised and wanting to run down the aisles, Becky decided to approach the couple in their late thirties pushing a trolley whom she had noticed earlier.
“Excuse me. I’m Becky Finbow. I hope you don’t mind, but I wonder if you’d like to answer some questions for the Happisdene Mercury?”
“Well….okay.” The woman seemed apprehensive. “What do you want to know?”
“She wants to know if we’re pervs.” The man rolled his eyes. “No we’re not; we don’t have kinky sex, and I’m not a kiddy fiddler.”
“Oh goodness, I didn’t imagine for one minute that you were!” Becky blushed furiously. “I’m just curious as to why you like to go shopping in the nude, although standing here tonight as naked as you are yourselves, I do have some idea why. It’s a lovely free feeling isn’t it?” She exhaled quickly with nervousness.
“So you’ve just found that out?” The woman chuckled. “We love it; our son’s a naturist too, although like most teenagers he hates walking about with his parents.”
“Come along to the Ryland Road Hall on Thursdays.” The man smiled at her. “It’s a great night out.”
“Thanks. Yes, Anne Riley told me about it.” Becky sighed with relief. “Can I take your names for the article?”
“Mo and Kenny Lyon.”
“Thanks.” Becky made a note of the names. “How long have you been naturists?”
“I was brought up that way.” Mo replied. “Kenny was converted as they say.”
“Who needs porn mags?” Kenny kept his features expressionless.
“Kenny, behave yourself!” Mo looked at Kenny and then at Becky. “He’s only joking.”
Becky sauntered leisurely back to the changing room, in no hurry to dress, with her mind whirring as she formed the words of the article. As the bouncer let her out again onto the street, she felt the encumbrance of clothing necessary to hide her body from men’s stares, the like of which she had endured since her teenage years. Becky realised that although she had been unclothed in the supermarket, not one man had looked upon her in a lascivious or inappropriate way. On reaching home she sat up until the small hours composing her article:
It wasn’t until I experienced naturism first hand, so to speak, that I realised just why it is so popular with some members of our local community. For my first article in the Happisdene Mercury I was told to report on the supermarket Freshfare’s nudist shopping nights on Mondays, which I initially undertook with some reluctance. Freshfare’s manager Peter Willis has decided to promote naturist shopping, which judging by the amount of people taking up his offer, looks to be a popular night for many years to come.
Originally I could not understand why some people would want to buy their meat and two veg (sorry about the pun) while walking about naked. However, on shedding my outer clothing and wandering around the shop floor, I felt a freedom and exuberance I had not experienced since going skinny dipping on Brighton beach as a young teenager for a dare. I realised that the men and women I met, Norman, Anne, Mo and Kenny, were just everyday people like myself who had already discovered that same freedom. Mo had been brought up a naturist, Kenny had been introduced to naturism by Mo, Norman had shed his outerwear and had encompassed the freedom 20 years ago, and Anne just preferred to wear nothing at all if she could get away with it.
Where do they put their money I hear you ask? No, not there; they carried bags just like anybody else, or hung handbags on trollies due to the obvious scarcity of pockets. They were just doing their shopping like you or I.
Thank you to my new-found friends who invited me to the Thursday naturist nights at the Memorial Hall. You never know – I might even give it a try!