The Nakeds

My housemate likes to cook and walk around naked. Although that implies a certain casualness which is not generally true. While cooking he’ll don an apron for practical and style purposes, cheeks peeking out as he flips eggs. Other times he’ll run from bathroom back to bedroom like a shy squirrel, as if he didn’t realize that when traversing the house, he may encounter another person. Or maybe there’s no shame and he’s just chilly.

The first time my now-boyfriend stayed over at our house, he commented he’d never met my housemate. Ten minutes later he came upstairs, said they’d met in the kitchen and he was naked-cooking. Not only had they met, he’d gotten a full view.

Years earlier, a friend moved into a house divided into two apartments, where the landlord lived above, and liked to garden naked. I was immediately squicked out, especially as the landlord was a middle-aged man. Why is that demographic the one filling up the nude beaches and flashing folks on the subway? Where are the McConaughey and Kate Beckinsale-type flashers? My friend said it isn’t that bad, she’s never complained and has stayed put for years (though the ravages of the NYC housing market may have something to do with that).

On reflection and examining my own prejudices, I blame the shirt cockers of Burning Man for my uncharacteristic and sudden Puritanism that pops up (sorry) when I encounter these middle-aged men. This breed has been with the event for a long time. They are weirdly uniform to one another and predictable, generally rather portly and sunken-chested, wandering around with zinc sunscreen, sunglasses and hats obscuring their faces and preventing them from being identified (by the face, at least). They wear plain t-shirts to protect themselves from the sun, but as you scroll down they are wearing nothing underneath, except grungy Tevas and a horrific case of toenail neglect. Remember metrosexuals? These guys are the opposite. They have never exfoliated anything. They shop at K mart and save up for the latest in camcorder technology, which they use to film women trying to brush their teeth or take a shower during the week-long festival, and then compile that film into amateur peeper porn and sell it online.

As a lifelong devotee of fashion, I cannot really endorse nudity. Depending on your belief system, either Eve (mother of us all), or thousands of years of evolution gave us outfits, and all their powers to conceal, reveal, lift, and flatter. Plus they insulate us from cold, and give us pockets to carry things in. I spend an inordinate amount of time searching for new outfit components, restoring them lovingly in textile cleaner, mending tiny tears, and ironing them so I can sort of dress up like a 1940s tap dancer for the great majority of the time. It’s like I am disguising myself to live inside an old movie, if the opportunity arose. This is why I’m always touching up my lipstick, because what would Joan Crawford think?

However I’ve finally grown to accept or at least not discriminate on the basis of nudity. I discriminate based on other things. Like so many things in life, if you like the person and think they are funny, they can get away with nearly anything, like parading about nude. Oh you.

I used to bartend at an amazing underground party which attracted any and all types. One regular sported a deep black pageboy hairdo or wig, like Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men. Below that, nothing at all. His body was a series of large skin flaps, as if he had been deflated at some point. In fact you couldn’t even see the goods, because they were PG-13ly hidden away by flaps. Arguably much more horrifying than your usual nudity, and something innocent children should be shielded from. Yet, we accepted him as just another guest/freak at our party. My only request for the ever-nudes – please just don’t sit in my chairs.

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