2017-04-13 / Columns

Keep your drawers on in public places

Patti Brandt Burgess

I almost got to use the Latin phrase ‘in flagrante delicto’ in a story this week.
The boss (who surely would have nixed it — we are a clean, God-fearing newspaper, after all) is out of town.
But two of my fellow writers said most people would not know what it meant.
I beg to differ. I know we have some really smart readers.
I did, however, get to use ‘afternoon delight’ in the headline. We’ve all been humming ever since. Even our youngest reporter knows that song.
For the sake of clarity and those readers who’ve never heard it, Merriam-Webster defines in flagrante delicto as “in the very act of committing a misdeed, red-handed; in the midst of sexual activity.”
It’s literal translation is ‘in blazing crime.’
According to this week’s police news, a Traverse City man and woman were caught ‘in blazing crime’ at 5 o’clock in the afternoon on M-22 as it passes through downtown Suttons Bay.
I wasn’t there, but being one of the first really nice days in the county, I’m betting the street was crowded.
There’s another name for what they were doing — exhibitionism. And those who were walking along the street minding their own business perhaps became unintended voyeurs.
Again, as so often, I have to say, “What were they thinking?”  
It could be the couple was just enthusiastically enjoying the fine weather. Maybe the untempered beauty of Leelanau just brings out the free spirit in all of us.
Or maybe they just had too much to drink, which seems to be the case around here lately. I’m not sure.
I’ve seen people more than once flagranting their delictos around the county. Once was at the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain where Ernie and I were taking a hike.
They were on a ski lift. Buck naked. In broad daylight.
That was a little embarrassing. We just pretended like we didn’t see a thing and turned around and went back down the hill.
I guess all of us ignored the ‘no trespassing’ signs.
Another time I was hiking the Dune Climb trail and I came around that last bend to the spot where the trail opens up to the beach and to the sun sparkling off the majestic expanse of Lake Michigan. It’s an amazing sight.
So was the couple doing it on the beach.  
I wasn’t too offended. From my perspective it looked like they really liked each other.
But once again I had to cut my visit short. Being an unwitting and unwilling spectator was a little uncomfortable. I just didn’t feel right plopping down for a breather before tackling the grueling mile and 1/2 trail back to the Dune Climb.
I’ve only lived up here for five years, but I’m finding out that Leelanau County is a haven for those who like to take their clothes off.
Whether they’re just cooling off or getting off, it seems like once the nine-month-long winter is over the naked frivolity starts.
Hordes of people have been spotted in late night skinny-dipping parties at various beaches.
And from what I’ve been told by a certain sheriff, they’re not all tourists. Many of them live here.
Some even go for a nude dip during the day, like the guy I once saw coming out of the water at my favorite secret beach wearing nothing but his birthday suit.
I guess my secret — and his — is out.
So while I’m pretty sure nothing I could say would dissuade folks from freeing themselves of all their inhibitions — and their clothing — this summer, please don’t do it on a busy street in a busy village in the middle of a busy day.
That would just be in flagrante stupido.

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