Illustration by Ryan Alexander-Tanner

LONG HAVE I heard tell of Collin's Beach on Sauvie Island.

(Did you know it's just "Sauvie Island," and not "Sauvie's Island"? I always thought there was some intrepid pioneer woman named Sauvie who was 10-feet tall and made out of pumpkins. She domesticated all the Sasquatch on Sasquatch Island, taught them how to harvest clover honey, and then they named the island after her—but, as it turns out, this is not true and it fucking sucks. Sauvie Island.)

A large swath of Collin's Beach is "clothing optional," but I've always stayed away from nude beaches because there are beaches that are not nude beaches. Some of my favorite beach activities are as follows: gallivanting, swimming just enough to justify a fun dinner, reading the same page of a book three times because you keep getting distracted by somebody's butt. Nowhere, you'll notice, did I mention "dongs." Dongs have never been a part of my ideal beach experience, or honestly you guys, any experience.

I've been in dong-rich environments my whole life. I attended a Jewish preschool and kindergarten (Jewish kindergarten... take that, Hitler!) at a Jewish community center and we would dress for swimming lessons in the same locker room as the rest of the population. As a result, I witnessed many old, grown dongs—wise dongs learned in the ways of the Talmud. I played football, and there were plenty of dongs—basking in the middling flaccidity of our suburban mediocrity.

I'm no stranger to dongs, and I don't actively avoid dongs, but I certainly never went out of my way to visit Collin's Beach and the cacophony of dongs therein. Then, I ended up at said beach.

It turns out when it's 90 degrees on a Saturday a WHOLEBUNCHA people want to go to the river. So as we passed crowded parking lot after parking lot, we eventually decided to end up at the Hella Dongs section of the beach—because it would probably be less crowded, and we could keep our clothes on anyway.

I grew nervous, because I was worried the people who traipse nudely around a nude beach might be Champions of Genitalia. I thought I would see two kinds of dongs—the worst dongs and immaculate dongs, which are even worse than the worst dongs, because they make you feel like your dong is one of the worst dongs.

Once I arrived, my tensions eased. There were dongs, yes, and boobs and vagina. There were also people wearing clothing, often in confusing combinations (sunglasses, big hat, backpack, Tevas, dong.) What was also present was a glorious diversity of dongs.

My friend asked how I was handling my first nude beach experience and I cracked some joke about dongs, and I asked how she was doing, and she said something that is hella true. She said we spend so much time feeling bad about our bodies and drumming up insecurities until they're big fucking monsters—but then you go to the nude beach and see that everyone's body is wrecked and also beautiful and capable of being loved and most dongs are normal dongs and your vagina is fine and nobody cares about your weird nipple or stretch marks or "big" scar but you.

Go to the nude beach, and don't be bummed. If you're gonna be bummed, be bummed that there isn't a Sasquatch Queen of Sauvie Island. @IanKarmel