I have known nudists for a long time, since the 1980’s in fact. I have recently dabbled my toes in the cold waters of being a nudist myself. I did work on pool cracks this past summer while naked. I made one visit to a nudist park and actually got naked in front of strangers who were also naked. It is a certain kind of crazy connection to nature, my self, and the bare selves of others to be a nudist, even if it is for only a few hours. I used to think nudists were crazy people. But I have begun to understand in ways that are hard to understand. And being a novelist, that was bound to creep into the piles of supposedly wise understanding that goes into the creation of novels. I say “supposedly wise” because wisdom is simply the lipstick on the pig of ridiculous human experiences.
The Cobble family appeared first in my novel, Superchicken. It is a semi-autobiographical novel that uses some of my real life experiences and the real life experiences of boys I either grew up with or taught, mixed in with bizarre fantasy adventures that came from my perceptions of life as an adult. So the Cobble family really represent my encounters with nudism and the semi-sane people known as nudists. Particularly important to the story are the Cobble Sisters, twins Sherry and Shelly, who fully embrace the idea of being nudists and try to get other characters to not only approve of the behavior, but share in it. Sherry is the more forward of the two, more willing to be seen naked by the boys in her school and in her little Iowa farm town. Shelly is the quieter of the two, a bit more shy and a lot more focused on the love of one particular boy.
In fact, the Cobble Sisters are based on real life twin blond girls from my recollections of the past. The Cobble farm is out along the Iowa River and just north of Highway Three in Iowa. It is a real place where real twin girls lived when I was a boy. They were blond and pretty and outgoing. But they were not actually nudists. There was another pair of twin blond girls from my first two years of teaching who actually provided the somewhat aggressively sensual personalities of the Cobble Sisters. The real nudists I knew were mostly in Texas.
The sisters appear in more than one of the novels I have written or am in the process of writing. They appear for the second time in the novel Recipes for Gingerbread Children which I finished writing in 2016. They are also a part of the novel I am working on now, The Baby Werewolf. That last is probably the main reason they are on my mind this morning. Writing a humorous horror story about werewolves, nudists, pornographers, and real wolves is a lot more complex and difficult than it sounds. But it is hopefully doable. And my nudist characters are all basically representative of the idea that all honest and straight-forward people are metaphorically naked all the time. That’s the thing about those nudist twins. They don’t hide anything. Not their most private bits, and certainly not what they are thinking at any given time.
So as I continue to struggle with revealing myself as a writer… and possibly as a nudist as well, I will count on the Cobble Sisters to make certain important points about life and love and laughter… and how you can have all three while walking around naked.