Saturday J. took me to Geja’s Cafe for my early birthday dinner. We chatted with the waiter between the oil and chocolate courses, and I mentioned that, while I love everything, the cheese fondue is my favorite. He put on an appalled/insulted look and said to J., “Let’s ditch her so we can have the chocolate all to ourselves.” Fortunately, I was allowed to finish the meal.
As we headed toward Lake Shore Drive, we encountered a massive group of naked or mostly naked people riding toward us on bicycles. Body paint, pasties, and other adornments had been applied in a dazzling number of creative ways. Partway through the pack, about a half dozen Chicago police officers (fully uniformed) provided a bicycle escort. All of the officers were grinning, some bemusedly and some sheepishly as though they were thinking, “I signed up for the force to protect the public from drug dealers, gang bangers, and evildoers, not to hang around with naked Yuppies on bikes!”
After 10 minutes of not getting anywhere very fast (our idea had been to see some of the fireworks at Navy Pier), J. turned into a side street, admitting that all that nudity had become very distracting.
I didn’t see any signs indicating a theme, but it wasn’t difficult to find the event online. It was World Naked Bike Ride Chicago, the local version of an international effort to promote cycling and human-powered transportation and to protest oil dependency.
Dress is as “bare as you dare,” with the caveats that it’s best to get bare as part of the mass and that the police can be particular about exposed female nipples and male and female genitals. The idea is that it’s hard to ignore naked people on bikes. On this night the police seemed willing to overlook both nipples and full frontal nudity. Otherwise, they would have had to arrest hundreds of people for doing something that doesn’t hurt anyone. At that time on a Saturday night, children should be in bed, and adults offended by the human body may need counseling because we all have one.
The Naked Bike Ride looked like a lot of fun, and if the logistics were more realistic I would consider participating. I would. Seriously.