Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Getting Naked with Strangers

Getting Naked with Strangers
Awkward as it was, just days ago I realized I had to remove all my clothes in front of a stranger. I suppose I had a choice. It wasn’t a medical situation. Instead it was a day at the beach. It was hot. I had clothes on. My bathing suit was in my beach bag. I didn’t plan on changing in public, but there I was in the public bathroom at Indialantic Beach. The changing area was separate from the toilet stall area, but it had no door. The walls were lined with benches where one could place personal items.
Anyone who thinks I had the option of changing in a stall doesn’t know me. I imagine someone with minimum coordination could do so, but I’m not one of those someones. Had I attempted such a move, my bathing suit, towel, and clothing would have ended up in, on, and around the toilet. Thus, I chose the changing “room.”
Just as I was formulating an impossible plan to disrobe in a modest manner—that is, have nobody see me—a woman entered the room. She stood there going through her bag, and I stood there holding my bathing suit top. I hesitated, and then the heat of the room, and the day, and the fact that people were waiting for me to join them on the beach urged me toward action.
I turned to the woman and said, “I hope it won’t offend you if I change into my bathing suit.”
“Not at all,” she replied. “I was just about to ask if you would be offended if I change out of mine.”
We both laughed and chatted a moment about our efforts to be socially correct. I continued my modest moves until I was wearing my suit and then left the room. I’m not aware if I traumatized anyone by a quick view of my white, flabby, sixty-three-year-old butt. If I did, I imagine they’ll get over it.
One thing I wish our society could get over is the taboo against nudity. I’m not talking public nudity, but being able to make small forays into nudity like being able to change clothes without fearing someone will be offended—or worse.
I will continue to be modest and wish for increased modesty in most aspects of our culture. But modesty is misplaced and misguided when it morphs into the fear of offending or causing consternation by the simple act of putting on a bathing suit or clean, dry clothes in a beach changing room.
For my next beach trip, I will probably take extra care to wear my suit under my clothes, but if I must change in the beach bathroom, I’ll try not to apologize or ask permission. After all, a changing room is for changing—sometimes in more ways than one.

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