Originally, I started hanging at Yahoo! Answers because I knew stuff and I wanted to share; the opportunity to snark at the clueless, of whom there were an abundance, came later, and I took full advantage of it, but that had never been my goal.

There is, of course, no guarantee that indulging my didactic nature will never, ever lead to problems down the road. Is this an indication of paranoia? Maybe, or maybe not.

She gave her name as Samantha, a name I've always liked for some reason. And apparently she'd happened upon an activity that she thought might be somewhat questionable:

I have a question probably a silly one, so please don't judge me.

I tried for the first time sun tanning naked outside yesterday! I did it in my backyard. My parents were gone and I am pretty sure my neighbors were too as it was during the work day. So I hope no peepers saw me! I mean, our backyard is semi private so I figured I was good. I was just trying to get a good overall tan.

But what I didn't expect was how crazy cool of a feeling I got to be naked outside. It kinda felt wrong but fun all at the same time!

Is it normal that I feel this way? I mean, I am only 13, so maybe I shouldn't be outside naked like that ... my dad certainly would not approve! But I guess I was curious how many other people tan naked in their backyards or elsewhere? How did it make you feel?

Torn between "Oooh, I know this!" and "Thirteen? Are you kidding me?" I decided to err on the side of More Information, and answered thusly:

Assuming there are no privacy issues, the main thing you need to worry about is sunburn. Keep your exposure times down for the first few times, then gradually increase them.

And no, there's nothing "wrong" with it. A lot of people are spooked by the very idea of nakedness, but you're just relaxing in the sun and not doing anything even remotely pervy.

And I felt pretty good after that, inasmuch as organized nudism in this country is seriously on the wane, and convincing young folk that it's not an oddity committed by odd people for odd people is pretty much a necessity. Besides, this has always seemed to be to be just about the right age for the youngsters to experiment with it: I was 15 when I first ventured out of doors unclad, my baby sister was younger than that, and when I was delivering newspapers back in the day, a 14-year-old boy on the route I was twelve, maybe seemed utterly unperturbed at the thought of showing me his just-out-of-the-shower self while I was collecting.

The next day, I got a private message from Samantha:

Thank you so much for your feedback to my question about nude sunbathing on YA. I liked your answer. I thought maybe I was funny or something to feel the way I did. It is kinda fun being naked to be honest. I had just never done it outside before.

I think mainly things are private but I cant help if I have a snoopy neighbor right? Do you go naked outside?

I went into about 500 words about how I got to my current unclothed-by-default state, how this wasn't an unusual urge for persons of her age, and recounted a story about a conversation across the fence.

And then I saw her last line:

By the way, if you want my email is [redacted] so we don't have to use the YA email stuff.

This spooked me. Suppose this had been an elaborate setup, a honeypot to trap would-be perverts?

I decided to play it semi-cool, noting that I was of an Advanced Age and it did not perhaps look good for me to be paying a whole lot of attention to you, especially since you don't have any clothes on, so I probably won't be using your regular email, but thanks anyway. And she let it go at that:

ah your sweet and I would never think your perving on me!!! But I understand. Anyhow take care.

And that was the end of that. I contemplated, briefly, contacting some of the ten other people who had answered her question and inquiring as to whether they'd gotten the same sort of communication from her, but ultimately decided that leaving well enough alone was its own reward.

I would still, of course, defend the advice I gave, and I'd happily give it again to someone else in a similar predicament. Not everyone is in a position to shuck their duds on a regular basis, but the few people I know who are caution: small sample seem utterly delighted that they are.

The Vent

  1 July 2014

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