About three o'clock yesterday afternoon, I decided I needed to go downtown for some reason or other, and I duly went into the bedroom to pick up my car keys. And I actually had them in my hand when I realized that this wasn't going to work: no pockets. I sighed, put down the keys, and the trip was delayed a few minutes while I put some clothes on.

When I was much younger, I had a tendency to wander around outside in the buff, and by the age of sixteen, I had declared pajamas superfluous. But a generally low level of privacy discouraged anything much beyond that, until last fall, when I found myself with the keys to a house on a quarter-acre lot with a six-foot fence around the back yard. Still, it wasn't until spring, when temperatures got to a reasonable level, that it dawned on me that I didn't have to wear anything if I didn't want to and most of the time, I damned well didn't want to.

Obviously this wasn't going to be in effect 24/7: I had to work for a living, and very fewer workplaces are willing to stretch Casual Friday to accommodate that level of casualness. Nor is it particularly practical for going shopping. Still, take away ten hours a day and almost a hundred hours a week remain, and if I sleep for sixty of them yeah, right, I should be so lucky as to get almost nine hours of sleep a night I can be up and about and unclothed for substantial periods of time.

Inside, of course, was no big deal: close the drapes and that's that. But venturing beyond the back door took a little more gumption, and what opened that door, finally, was the combination of an unusually warm May afternoon and tall grass in the back yard. I was not at all looking forward to having to wring out quarts of sweat from my clothing, and accordingly I had gone out in an old pair of boxers and sport sandals. And as I pulled the starter cord on the lawn mower, I realized how ridiculous I looked.

So I took off the boxers, and that's the way I mowed the back yard from then on. This wasn't going to work in the front yard for obvious reasons, but it made taking care of the back yard, which is twice as large anyway, quite a bit less painful. And I did subsequently discover that this outfit, or lack thereof, is not ideal for some other forms of yard work: running a string trimmer churns up a whole lot of debris you don't want dancing around your nether regions, and I still have a couple of scratches from cleaning up some dead tree limbs and having a chunk of bark suddenly break off and slide down my leg. (We won't discuss the time I tried to trim the rosebush.)

But getting out in the sun is good for you, if you don't overdo it, and I'm not one to overdo things. And the additional activity level, something I never would have achieved living in an apartment, is at least partially responsible for a small but measurable weight loss this year. My hitherto sickly off-white color has, at least temporarily, darkened into an acceptable if not noteworthy beige. And if running around nude has contributed to an improvement in what used to be some fairly dark moods, so much the better.

I have not, so far, embraced the "nudist" tag, mainly because it's been a solitary activity, and I don't think I'm quite ready to move into any social circles of this sort, though I have begun visiting chat rooms and message boards on the subject. Maybe next year, or the year after; there's no real hurry.

The Vent

  1 November 2004

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 Copyright © 2004 by Charles G. Hill