Letting it All Hang Out in Tarragona

How did the naked KFC Crispy Colonel get his tender white meat so tan? I couldn’t help but wonder this as we saw the darkest white man possible strutting his stuff (and I mean all his stuff) up and down Savinosa Beach, just outside Tarragona.

We were in a throwback mood anyway, so thoughts of George Hamilton (aka the Crispy Colonel KFC pitchman and the actor known more for his tan than for his acting chops) were apropos. Our hotel, Hotel Sant Jordi, screamed the hipster ‘60s or ‘70s.

When was the last time you saw a hotel’s name reverse-weaved into the bath towels? Or a comb and dental set as in-room freebies? The only things missing were a “sanitized for your protection” strip across the toilet seat and a Dean Martin soundtrack playing in the lobby.

Don’t get me wrong: it was a terrific place to stay, with a big room, great view, thoughtful amenities and a continental breakfast for three large enough to feed a continental army. The service was impeccable and at a level we generally do not experience in US hotels.

‘Nude-Nude, Nudity Beach’

But let me get back to the colonel. One of the attractions of Hotel Sant Jordi was its nearness to the Mediterranean Sea, about a block away. Marilynn and Declan went to Savinosa Beach immediately upon our arrival at the hotel while I stayed behind and caught up on a little work. They came back and reported that the beach actually was a nudist beach, judging by the lack of clothing on many people.

I did a little research afterward and discovered that topless is OK on every beach in Spain and that full nudity apparently is OK on any beach where it hasn’t been specifically banned by local ordinance. While I’m not puritanical, the thought of full public nudity does knock my American sense of decency slightly off-kilter.

It doesn’t affect my sense of humor, however, as I quickly adapted words to the Ramones’ “Rockaway Beach” to my own purposes:

Nude-Nude, Nudity Beach,

Nude-Nude, Nudity Beach,

See the twigs and berries on Nudity Beach!

(Oh baby…)

Enough nuts for one day

And it doesn’t affect Declan’s sense of humor either. He and Marilynn had discovered a quaint bistro overlooking the beach, where we had pizza for dinner. There were still a few nudists hanging out, as it were, as the day waned. For tapas, the waiter offered a bowl of nuts. “Would you like some nuts?” I asked Declan. “No. I’ve seen enough for one day,” he replied.

Our train to Murcia didn’t leave until 1, so we spent time mid-morning the following day back on the beach. Declan played in the shallow waves and swam a little in the Mediterranean, while Marilynn and I walked back and forth along the beach, a stretch of perhaps 300 yards.

A group of  four men, two Fully Monty and two wearing shorts, were also walking back and forth. A few single men sans shorts were walking, and we saw at least two women with their baps out sunning themselves.

And then we spied the colonel. He was 12 shades darker than any other person on the beach, without a tan line anywhere. I looked anywhere but down as we walked toward each other, but I did turn around as he walked past. In addition to the deep tan, his hair was slightly long and pulled into a bun in a style I describe as “Señor Top Knot” when I see it on football players.

His other buns practically glowed, which made me wonder if his dermatologist charged extra for the additional real estate he had to examine. And given how dark this man was, I couldn’t help but feel like I’d fallen into a ‘70s time warp, when a deep tan was a sign of health rather than a warning sign for melanoma.