Growing up in the Tropics I was used to swimming in temperatures akin to bath tubs. First time I experienced colder waters was after college. I took the backpack to Europe and found myself in Klampenborg, Denmark. It was one of those beautiful days that seem even more beautiful as a memory. The Scandinavian sun was hot enough that the North Sea looked mighty inviting. Only thing was I was dressed in blue jeans. But there’s a solution to every problem because the far end of the shore was a nude beach. Like all nude beaches only men were partaking. A man was floating along with a beer in his hand. As we all know what cold water does to a man’s member and with this guy hung like a horse, I figured the water could not be that cold.
Man, was I wrong. I ran on to the pier, jumped in and like a cartoon character jumped back out. My testicles shriveled to the size of raisins. while Hagar the horse and his Viking friends remained unaffected.
The West Coast toughened me up. Starting off in San Francisco I lived across the street from Baker Beach, yet another nude beach. On a warm day I tested the Pacific and failed. The Arctic currents make the ocean off of San Francisco colder than waters off Alaska. It was like a thousand needles stabbing into my shins. My bones hurt for the rest of the day. I tried many a time but I couldn’t stay in that water for longer than it took me to dive back out.
Los Angeles was where I earned my stripes. The water wasn’t so bad, but for a Miami kid it took some getting used to. By the end of my years there on an October morning I realized I was the only surfer without a wet suit. One dude paddled by me and shook his head. “You got ice water in your veins. You crazy, man.” Don’t worry I had on a pair of swimming trunks. I am not always frequenting nude beaches.
But now I am back in the Tropics and it only has taken me two winters to lose my insulation. If the water gets below 75 degrees I put my toes in before deciding it s too cold for me.