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9 Nudist Resort Rules of Etiquette

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“Feel the freedom!” That’s the mission statement behind the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR), a not-for-profit group based in Kissimmee, Florida. For more than 85 years, the AANR has helped hundreds of thousands of nudists find like minds and safe spaces for wholesome, clothes-free fun.

Those curious about nudist gatherings might wonder how social interactions differ when one or both parties are unencumbered by clothing. To find out, we asked Carolyn Hawkins, the public relations coordinator for the AANR and a frequent presence at Kissimmee’s Cypress Cove Nudist Resort. Here are a few things to keep in mind should you ever find yourself on “nakation.”

1. YOU MIGHT BE ABLE TO KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON.

Some organizations like to ease first-time nudists into the unfamiliar world of genital exposure by arranging what’s known as a “clothes-optional” gathering. That means attendees are welcome to keep their clothes on—even if it’s just a long T-shirt—until they’re comfortable enough to leave them behind. “Clothes-free,” however, means that you need to shed your fabrics without reservations. If you find yourself in the former group, remember that certain areas will still frown on a lack of crack. “In all of our clubs,” Hawkins says, “you have to be nude to get into a pool or hot tub, even if it’s clothing-optional.”

2. THEY MIGHT BLOCK YOUR CAMERA LENS.

The advent of cell phones with megapixel cameras has made protecting privacy at nudist gatherings slightly more difficult; Hawkins says that anyone who strolls into a group clutching a cell phone will probably be called to the side. “At Cypress Cove, we have a red dot policy. If someone brings a phone, we ask them to put a red dot over the camera lens. No one’s complained about it yet.”

3. YOU NEED TO BRING A TOWEL WITH YOU EVERYWHERE.

While no one is casting aspersions on anyone’s personal hygiene, most nudist gatherings mandate that guests carry a bath or beach towel with them at all times and use it as a barrier when sitting down. “It’s for sanitary purposes,” Hawkins says.

4. FOOTWEAR IS WELCOME.

Because Florida is populated by fire ants, Hawkins says she frequently runs into nudists who sport shoes or sandals on an otherwise naked body: “There are also little sticks and things like that on the beach.” Hats and jewelry are also common.

5. THEY EAT IN THE NUDE.

While this sounds like it might be hazardous when ordering hot soups, Hawkins says most resorts welcome nude diners (provided you bring that aforementioned towel). Some patrons might find a dining area chilly and wear something light to avoid feeling cold. And while most servers are nudists themselves, they remain dressed while on duty.

6. THEY DON’T MONITOR TOENAILS. (CLIP THEM ANYWAY.)

While it’s probably good form to keep your nails trimmed, Hawkins says that most groups aren’t going to make a big deal out of some slightly lax hygiene. “That would be at a person’s discretion,” she says. “It’s about body acceptance.”

7. PUBLIC DISPLAYS OF AFFECTION ARE OUT.

While you may discover a newfound appreciation for nature and the freedom of a non-clothed lifestyle, you can't let it get out of hand. Hawkins says most clubs have the modesty of the minister in Footloose when it comes to touching. "The most public affection displayed would be holding hands or a quick hug when you meet friends," she says.

8. SINGLE GUY OR GAL? YOU MIGHT NOT MAKE IT IN.

"The clubs try to keep a gender balance as best they can," Hawkins says. While couples typically won't have trouble being admitted, singles could be. "If a single male or female comes to the gates, they're asked if they have nudist experience," Hawkins explains. If not, and there's no singles function planned, they might need to reconsider their nakation.

9. YOU CAN BE NUDE, BUT YOU CAN’T LOOK SEXY.

For clothing-optional gatherings, Hawkins says that there’s actually a type of dress code: provocative lingerie, dresses, or tight jeans aren’t welcome sights. “That’s sex appeal, not a nude body,” she says.

That doesn’t preclude romance: Hawkins has arranged several nude weddings for people who met at Cypress Cove during singles gatherings. And yes, the brides saved a lot of money by not having to buy a dress. “They can spend it on the honeymoon,” says Hawkins.

All images courtesy of iStock.

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15 Confusing Plant and Animal Misnomers
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People have always given names to the plants and animals around us. But as our study of the natural world has developed, we've realized that many of these names are wildly inaccurate. In fact, they often have less to say about nature than about the people who did the naming. Here’s a batch of these befuddling names.

1. COMMON NIGHTHAWK

There are two problems with this bird’s name. First, the common nighthawk doesn’t fly at night—it’s active at dawn and dusk. Second, it’s not a hawk. Native to North and South America, it belongs to a group of birds with an even stranger name: Goatsuckers. People used to think that these birds flew into barns at night and drank from the teats of goats. (In fact, they eat insects.)

2. IRISH MOSS

It’s not a moss—it’s a red alga that lives along the rocky shores of the northern Atlantic Ocean. Irish moss and other red algae give us carrageenan, a cheap food thickener that you may have eaten in gummy candies, soy milk, ice cream, veggie hot dogs, and more.

3. FISHER-CAT

Native to North America, the fisher-cat isn’t a cat at all: It’s a cousin of the weasel. It also doesn’t fish. Nobody’s sure where the fisher cat’s name came from. One possibility is that early naturalists confused it with the sea mink, a similar-looking creature that was an expert fisher. But the fisher-cat prefers to eat land animals. In fact, it’s one of the few creatures that can tackle a porcupine.

4. AMERICAN BLUE-EYED GRASS

American blue-eyed grass doesn’t have eyes (which is good, because that would be super creepy). Its blue “eyes” are flowers that peek up at you from a meadow. It’s also not a grass—it’s a member of the iris family.

5. MUDPUPPY

The mudpuppy isn’t a cute, fluffy puppy that scampered into some mud. It’s a big, mucus-covered salamander that spends all of its life underwater. (It’s still adorable, though.) The mudpuppy isn’t the only aquatic salamander with a weird name—there are many more, including the greater siren, the Alabama waterdog, and the world’s most metal amphibian, the hellbender.

6. WINGED DRAGONFISH

This weird creature has other fantastic and inaccurate names: brick seamoth, long-tailed dragonfish, and more. It’s really just a cool-looking fish. Found in the waters off of Asia, it has wing-like fins, and spends its time on the muddy seafloor.

7. NAVAL SHIPWORM

The naval shipworm is not a worm. It’s something much, much weirder: a kind of clam with a long, wormlike body that doesn’t fit in its tiny shell. It uses this modified shell to dig into wood, which it eats. The naval shipworm, and other shipworms, burrow through all sorts of submerged wood—including wooden ships.

8. WHIP SPIDERS

These leggy creatures are not spiders; they’re in a separate scientific family. They also don’t whip anything. Whip spiders have two long legs that look whip-like, but that are used as sense organs—sort of like an insect’s antennae. Despite their intimidating appearance, whip spiders are harmless to humans.

9. VELVET ANTS

A photograph of a velvet ant
Craig Pemberton, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

There are thousands of species of velvet ants … and all are wasps, not ants. These insects have a fuzzy, velvety look. Don’t pat them, though—velvet ants aren’t aggressive, but the females pack a powerful sting.

10. SLOW WORM

The slow worm is not a worm. It’s a legless reptile that lives in parts of Europe and Asia. Though it looks like a snake, it became legless through a totally separate evolutionary path from the one snakes took. It has many traits in common with lizards, such as eyelids and external ear holes.

11. TRAVELER'S PALM

This beautiful tree from Madagascar has been planted in tropical gardens all around the world. It’s not actually a palm, but belongs to a family that includes the bird of paradise flower. In its native home, the traveler’s palm reproduces with the help of lemurs that guzzle its nectar and spread pollen from tree to tree.

12. VAMPIRE SQUID

Drawing of a vampire squid
Carl Chun, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This deep-sea critter isn’t a squid. It’s the only surviving member of a scientific order that has characteristics of both octopuses and squids. And don’t let the word “vampire” scare you; it only eats bits of falling marine debris (dead stuff, poop, and so on), and it’s only about 11 inches long.

13. MALE FERN & LADY FERN

Early botanists thought that these two ferns belonged to the same species. They figured that the male fern was the male of the species because of its coarse appearance. The lady fern, on the other hand, has lacy fronds and seemed more ladylike. Gender stereotypes aside, male and lady Ferns belong to entirely separate species, and almost all ferns can make both male and female reproductive cells. If ferns start looking manly or womanly to you, maybe you should take a break from botany.

14. TENNESSEE WARBLER

You will never find a single Tennessee warbler nest in Tennessee. This bird breeds mostly in Canada, and spends the winter in Mexico and more southern places. But early ornithologist Alexander Wilson shot one in 1811 in Tennessee during its migration, and the name stuck.

15. CANADA THISTLE

Though it’s found across much of Canada, this spiky plant comes from Europe and Asia. Early European settlers brought Canada thistle seeds to the New World, possibly as accidental hitchhikers in grain shipments. A tough weed, the plant soon spread across the continent, taking root in fields and pushing aside crops. So why does it have this inaccurate name? Americans may have been looking for someone to blame for this plant—so they blamed Canada.

A version of this story originally ran in 2015.

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18 Tea Infusers to Make Teatime More Exciting
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Make steeping tea more fun with these quirky tea infusers.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

1. SOAKING IT UP; $7.49

man-shaped tea infuser
Amazon

That mug of hot water might eventually be a drink for you, but first it’s a hot bath for your new friend, who has special pants filled with tea.

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2. A FLYING TEA BOX; $25.98

There’s no superlaser on this Death Star, just tea.

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3. SPACE STATION; $9.99

astronaut tea infuser
ThinkGeek

This astronaut's mission? Orbit the rim of your mug until you're ready to pull the space station diffuser out.

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4. BE REFINED; $12.99

This pipe works best with Earl Grey.

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5. A RIBBITING OPTION; $10.93

This frog hangs on to the side of your mug with a retractable tongue. When the tea is ready, you can put him back on his lily pad.

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6. ‘TEA’ ALL LIVE IN A YELLOW SUBMARINE; $5.95

It’s just like the movie, only with tea instead of Beatles.

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7. SHARK ATTACK; $6.99

shark tea infuser
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This fearsome shark patrols the bottom of your mug waiting for prey. For extra fun, use red tea to look like the end of a feeding frenzy.

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8. PERFECT FOR A RAINY DAY; $12.40

This umbrella’s handle conveniently hooks to the side of your mug.

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9. AN EGGCELLENT INFUSER; $5.75

cracked egg tea infuser
Amazon

Sometimes infusers are called tea eggs, and this one takes the term to a new, literal level.

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10. FOR SQUIRRELY DRINKERS; $8.95

If you’re all right with a rodent dunking its tail into your drink, this is the infuser for you.

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11. HANGING OUT; $12.85

This pug is happy to hang onto your mug and keep you company while you wait for the tea to be ready.

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12. ANOTHER SHARK OPTION; $5.99

If you thought letting that other shark infuser swim around in the deep water of your glass was too scary, this one perches on the edge, too busy comping on your mug to worry about humans.

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13. RUBBER DUCKIE, YOU’RE THE ONE; $8.95

Let this rubber duckie peacefully float in your cup and make teatime lots of fun.

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14. DIVING DEEP; $8.25

This old-timey deep-sea diver comes with an oxygen tank that you can use to pull it out.

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15. MAKE SWEET TEA; $10

This lollipop won't actually make your tea any sweeter, but you can always add some sugar after.

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16. A SEASONAL FAVORITE; $7.67

When Santa comes, give him some tea to go with the cookies.

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17. FLORAL TEA; $14.99

Liven up any cup of tea with this charming flower. When you’re done, you can pop it right back into its pot.

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18. KEEP IT TRADITIONAL; $7.97

If you’re nostalgic for the regular kind of tea bag, you can get reusable silicon ones that look almost the same.

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