The (One) Time I went topless


‘A tale of balmier climes and steamier times’

No. There is no photographic evidence. (She said, breathing a sigh of relief.) But once upon a time, I did go topless. It was at a Club Med. A French Club Med, I feel compelled to add. And it was back in the ’80s, when people did things like that. Or at least did things like that when they went to a French Club Med.

I’m reminded of this story because we New Yorkers have been frozen fast during the Third Coldest February on Record. Now we’re well into the second week of March and the beach here still looks like this:

Contrast this beach shot with the one at the top of this post. Snow castles, anyone?

Indian Wells Beach last weekend. A March weekend, people. Snow castles, anyone?

Anyway, back to the ’80s. And Club Med. Whatever you may think of Club Med now (if you think of Club Med at all), Back Then it was considered quite the racy venue for a vacation.

At Club Med, money was forbidden (pop beads were used at the bar), mixing of guests and (sexy) staff was encouraged (a ‘crazy signs’ song, wacky precursor to the Macarena, was performed at random times by any and everyone) and clothes (or tops anyway) were optional.

This was heady stuff, especially for a Midwestern Girl whose ‘resort’ experience is best described as lying on top of a picnic table in a supine position next to a transistor radio playing the Beach Boys.

I must admit that the whole sophisticated idea of going to Club Med was not mine; a female colleague at the Big Agency Where I Was Working at The Time asked me to go, partly because she liked me, but also partly because at Club Med you had to share a room with someone and she didn’t want to get assigned to share with some random female stranger.

So Sally (not her real name, natch) and I get on a plane and get to Club Med. We are totally psyched. Not only is it cold back in New York, it’s really cool on this Caribbean Island. Even if you could ignore the super-toned, super-tanned gorgeous GOs (that’s Gentils Organisateurs, or, um, staff), there are palm trees and warm blue water and marvelous French food.

Speaking of which, at one lunch I set my plate of cheeses down for, like, one second to go get wine. When I came back, the guy next to me had thrown my (very stinky) limburger into the bushes.

So ‘Sally’ and I get out of our clothes and into our bikinis. Or half our bikinis. This is a French Club Med. If you wore the top of your bikini you stuck out like a sore thumb. A clothed sore thumb.

So, in the spirit of when-in-Rome (or in this case, when-in-Caribbean), we march bravely and semi-nakedly toward the beach.

We were heading toward a couple of beach chairs when who do we see heading our way, clad only in Speedo and water-polo helmet? None other than Name Goes Here, the President of The Big Agency Where We Both Worked.

So what do ‘Sally’ and I do? We immediately assume an oh-so-casual arms-crossed-across-our-chests attitude. Mr. President immediately fixes his gaze (alternately) at the spot precisely midway between our eyebrows.

‘Hi, Sheldon (not his real name)!’ we exclaim. ‘When did you get here?’ ‘Today? That’s funny. So did we! And how long are you staying? A week! Hahaha, so are we. Oh wow!’

Needless to say, we (all three of us) spent a lot of time over the next week skulking. Around palm trees. Under awnings. Between GOs. Which just goes to show you, um, something. That you will always run into people you don’t expect to? Or perhaps that you should always keep your clothes on (or at least both halves) in public? At least in public where your boss might show up.

Thank the Work Gods that this particular Club Med, French though it was, did not have a nude beach.

Thank you again for reading. Stay tuned for more tales from the Ad World. Or click on any in the sidebar under the tab ‘Ad Lore’. Here’s one for starters: ‘Old MacDonald Had a Silo’.


New York City. March 2015

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15 thoughts on “The (One) Time I went topless

  1. Unbound Roots

    Ha! Of course that had to happen with Mr. President. And, I have to admit – I laughed out loud at the limburger incident. My husband loves that stinky stuff too, and now you have given me an idea. 🙂 Also, I have to admit to going topless one time on a topless beach in Mexico. I went topless on my own patio – you win. Love your writing!

    • I love that you too have faced the world topless. Even if it was on your balcony, it Counts! And it’s nice to know someone who knows someone who also likes limburger (!) BTW, once, on another vaca, I ran into our CFO clad in shorts, knee socks, and a fruit-studded straw hat. He was in a conga line, dancing to ‘Who Let The Dogs Out’. It was New Year’s Eve on St. Kitts.

  2. Hilarious and embarrassing all at the same time! So you stated that Mr. Speedo was looking directly between your eyebrows, but exactly where were the two of you looking?

    • OMG! Good question! If we looked at his face, the water-polo helmet was in hilarious view. Mr. Boss was very tall. So, if we looked any lower, even a little bit lower — like eye level — we were staring at Spandex. I’m pretty sure we took our chances Up Top.

  3. Oh, my. What an experience! Did you get a promotion shortly after meeting the Pres, Alice? I think Club Med has become more family oriented at this point but the 80’s were a racy time.

    • Yes, indeed. The 80s were racy (!) As to my career trajectory, let’s just say that it was a tad diffy to make eye contact with Mr. Big back in NY — even shrouded in many layers of clothing xo

  4. Don Westrich

    I’m visualizing the candidates for who President of The Big Agency Where We Both Worked might have been at the time in a Speedo. The images are disturbing.

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