When living on a boat and bathing at the marina’s showers, the nakedness of other men is unavoidable. Often, we are on the same schedule, heading to work at the same time. Day after day of toweling off together has born many friendships.
I remember once discussing this, over a glass of wine at a local pub, with my son, who also lives on a boat. I had just read a New York Times piece about gym designers having to alter locker rooms to accommodate the sensibilities of younger Americans to exposing and being exposed to nakedness.
I thought I would have a friendly ear.
I was wrong. He proceeded to pantomime a naked and wet old man lifting one leg onto a bench while resting an elbow on his raised knee and his chin in his hand, a kind of arthritic and fleshy version of Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker.”
“And there it is all out there,” he said, waving both hands in the area below his waist. “He is just saying look at my junk. That’s not what I want to see. I do not want to see all of your junk.”
To be clear: My son and I never see each other in the shower, fortunately.
We both laughed but I am also sad for my son. He has a timidity and shyness about his body. I love being naked. I prefer to sleep that way. On a few occasions, I have a sailed that way. I have rested that way, under a gentle sun, on the deck while anchored.
I am not interested in making nakedness a lifestyle but to be free off all cloth is liberating.
To my son’s point, however, I have used my nakedness as a bit of fleshy cudgel. I know there a people who are more reserved — even shy about their nakedness. And, I know, there are people, like my son, who are disgusted by others’ exposure.
Perhaps, I should be more considerate. The problem is, how men react often makes me chuckle.