Failure #9: Participate in Public Nudity

Most items on my 30 Failures list are things that might have had some impact on my social life. When I think back on my youth, I don’t recall any invitations or occasions for public nudity. In general, public nudity tends to be frowned upon, though I suspect for the wrong reasons. Failing to bare more than teeth in public isn’t so much of a failure in itself—it’s the lack of bravery to even consider doing it. Bawk ba gawk.

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And I don’t think I’m alone in my reluctance to drop trou amongst strangers. You might be struggling to think of instances in which public nudity would be appropriate. Has Emily Post ever covered this sort of thing? Certainly Miss Manners laid down some etiquette for skinny dipping!

I’ve never gone skinny dipping down at the quarry. My hometown probably didn’t have a quarry. But there might have been some swimmin’ hole where the youths would strip and frolic ‘neath the moonlight. My invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail. Perhaps none of my young beaus needed to resort to such trickery to get me unclothed. (Miss Manners had a chapter on that, too, right?)

Streaking is another act of public indecency that I haven’t had the occasion to perform. But then, I’m not prone to any bouts of athleticism. Which is also why you’ll never see me at one of those clothing-optional bike rides or at the Co-ed Naked Jai Alai tournament.

I will also confess that I haven’t exhibited any signs of exhibitionism. I have never, on purpose, participated in flashing, mooning or anasyrma. If I owned a classic trench coat, I might entertain notions of traipsing about town in only my London Fog and bowler hat. But not in winter. Or on Thursdays.

Now those are just the deviant deeds. We haven’t even considered the legally acceptable forms of social nudity—the nude beaches, nudist colonies and naturist clubs. Just the word “nude” conjures up grand fantasies of airbrushed bathing beauties and hard-bodies. In theory, these places could be great locales to toss off your trousers and your inhibitions. That is, if you’re willing to have your dreams shattered by the lumpy bottoms of reality.

For whatever reasons—body issues, fear of skin cancer, lack of bravery—I’m not quite ready to shed my threads for all the world to see. But, who knows? Someone might decide small breasts are high art and want to paint my portrait for public viewing. Maybe I’ll get involved with a local burlesque show. Or maybe I’ll take a road trip where I moon my way across the TransCanada highway. In the meantime, I’m going to look for an Emily Post’s Guide to Nude Etiquette on


One thought on “Failure #9: Participate in Public Nudity

  1. Katharine,
    As a long time reader of your work, yes I found you back in the blissfully bitter days. I can not believe you have yet to do all these things.

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