Nudist sightings are no big deal in my neck of the woods.
I’ve lived in or near Berkeley the last twenty years, and the fumes of 60’s counterculturalism still waft through the air here: on the same block it’s not unusual for me to see street vendors selling tie dyed T-shirts, old hippies reading Karl Marx, crunchy skatepunkers panhandling for change, people selling way-left-of-left bumper stickers, and yes, the occasional naked person strolling about.
When I was in school, there was a guy, Andrew Martinez, who made headlines for showing up to class in nothing more than a bandana, and sometimes not even that.
I think the reason anyone took notice of him was that he was actually young and fit, and regularly attended classes.
He always put a newspaper down on his seat, so I wasn’t particularly bothered by him.
What has bothered me, though, is that most of the nudists I’ve seen over the years are an assault on the eyes.
Why can’t all nudists be just a little attractive? Is that too much to ask? You can’t get a driver’s license without passing a test – isn’t there some bare minimum we can require before you bare your minimum?
Think about it – it’s win-win – if you’re trying to make some social or political or even personal point, you’re much more likely to hold someone’s attention by not making them want to gouge their eyes out.
But all I ever seem to come across are pasty, flabby old hippies. There they are, crossing Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley’s major thoroughfare, sauntering slowly as you please, their pendulant breasts and sagging testicles sloshing to and fro, their body hair sprouting from this crevice and that, and generally besmirching an otherwise pleasant day.
And this has nothing to do with age or flab per se – I happen to have both – and I appreciate all bodies in an oceanic, universal, humbling, ashes-to-ashes, dust-to-dust, we’re-all-in-this-together sort-of-way.
Let’s all be beautiful and naked and celebrate our imperfections privately – in front of people who happen to love our unique sloshing and sprouting.
Look at ancient Greek sculptures – where’s the flabby hippie or cadaverous anorexic? Right, there are none. The Greeks wanted to spend their leisure time entertaining their eyes, not punishing them.
That’s not just some trend that was hot for a minute in 500 BC. That’s evolution talking. That’s our hard wired appreciation of a healthy body and the Apollonian Ideal talking.
2000 years later, when Michelangelo decided to sculpt the David, he didn’t go with this:
…he went with this…
So let’s just make a deal. To all of you folks out there considering a naked stroll through downtown: I won’t show you mine if you won’t show me yours.
Unless you’re Beyonce.
Evolution/God/Yahweh/Allah/Benevolent Space Aliens conspire only every few generations to put something like that on this earth. It would be ungrateful and disrespectful to subject these magnificent creatures to our petty human rules and regs.
So Beyonce, if you happen to find yourself in Berkeley, and happen to wanna get naked in public, I won’t sneer or avert my gaze. I may lay flat on my stomach for an hour, but I won’t sneer. That’s a promise.