Stripping Away the Façade
Jus’ sayin’. In my best Andy Rooney Voice….
It is a lovely warm morning. It has been raining, cooling, but I had to close out the fresh air coming through my window because the splash was coming with it.
I have errands to run. The first thing to do is find my pants and decide if they are clean enough to just use the same ones again. Then always fresh underwear, so I walk over to their designated drawer. A shirt that goes with my activity is also chosen by walking over and into my closet, which is filled with clothing, each piece for a particular kind of weather. The light shirts that go with the short pants, the slightly heavier shirts, but too heavy for the very hot days, the dress shirts for work in a more conservative environment, the sweaters for an extra layer, the older clothing for utilitarian use that are tough and others that are more expendable, the rain, the cold day, the not so cold day, the dress up sexy, the dance, the party, the ones that impress the woo woo’s, or the hippies, or the regular middle class, and of course the T-shirt collection of all manner of identification and labeling. There are the shirts from India that are better suited for hot days, but seem to upset some others, as they judge me for what I wear and these are just too odd, like so many other social squabbles amongst the brain cells of the textile jury.
Down the line are sport coats, formal suits, raincoats, for cold rain, frigid rain, working outside in the rain, camping, snow, silk lounging attire, light robes, heavy terry robes and other contingencies that I may put on once a year. Some, I have worn every few years, just for fun. I wonder why I put them back into the closet, thinking perhaps these may be useful sometime.
The pants haven’t been worn in a week, but as I remember, they had been well used on two hot humid days and may need maintenance, so they are discarded into the collection of dirty clothes as I take note of whether the laundry needs done, how much of each kind of wash, dark, light, delicate, towels and washcloths. A load of towels, half a load of delicate.
I’ll need some clean socks to protect my feet and underwear for the pants. It just gets dirty, unsanitary in pants, if you wear them. They don’t air out, they keep bacteria in, creating….ick. Well, what can a guy do? Not wear pants?
So, back to the closet to look for pants. The day will be warm, but first, I have to find something that goes with the shirt, no maybe the weather, no maybe the occasion. Now, who will I be with? Will short pants be too casual? If so, which long pants. The light hot weather ones? Are they too casual? They are still hotter than the short ones. The regular pants, are way hot, the jeans are too tight, or too baggie, and tend to not give as much as the elastic ones. I get that waistband mark on me. My bowels are squeezed by belts, I can see the shape of my stomach change. When I sit, my inner body is not functioning properly, the intestine is cut off and massaged roughly or bundled for long periods. I think of all of the guys with bellies hanging over a belt with obvious body shape disfigurement permanence. I remember the discomfort. How can I be socially acceptable and maintain some comfort? There must be something in this closet. Old pants, new pants, pants that fit two week ago, but now are too big or too small. Do I need to tuck my shirt in? To look trim I must stuff it down the trousers, smooth it out all around, so as to be in place. That way, I’m bundled in with trapped heat, I’m hot in extra layers, it must be in order, and no baggie shirt obscuring my belt. Oh where, oh where are the pants that go with this? Are they still in the laundry? Are they stuffed into the back of a drawer, under something?…
…The underwear comes on first, a compromise, something light that shouldn’t matter that much, almost naked. If this is so, then why do I have to adjust myself within this pair of briefs? Why is there a mashed line when people take these things off? Well, no bra for me…Thank-you, God.
Next, I bend to put pants on, one leg at a time. My toes get caught in the knee. There is an art to putting on pants. It takes practice, and I am behind in my program of maintaining the use of that muscle memory. But then there are the others, who have to sit on a bed to stretch these things on. I’m fortunate, well, one might believe. I suck in my stomach with breath, the same movement as before diving, or the natural reflex before something terrible happens and button the pants temporarily. Do I put the belt through the loops now or after the shirt tuck? It is such a measured tedious dispatch and it all has to be undone, if one loop is missed. What a devastating public faux pas to have discovered that one loop was neglected! “Look Mom, a slob! He must be sloppy in his work, too.” Then there is that disarray, the imbalanced lack of symmetry when the tails pop out and the clothes don’t feel “right.”
I opt out of the belt. I go right for the shirt, taking care to line up the bottom seam and the buttons just so. Some of these shirts feel good at first. They are silky, or flop around loosely, but this one doesn’t. The tails must be in. The culture dictates that I must look “sharp” for this event. Sharp, in control, on top of it all, suited in my social armor and its accompanying mental state. Shirttails must be in in just so, twist and turn to place belt just so. A tie, tooo!!!! A sport coat? Business casual, what a concept that is, like it is actually liberating?
I haven’t had clothing on my body for days. When I finally arrange my wardrobe like a proper tool specific for the job, I feel it everywhere. I feel insulated. I am cut off, only my head is out where the air escapes and new life is breathed back in to this bag on my body. This doesn’t feel good. This shuts out the fresh cooling breeze. I bend over to pick up my shoes and I’m restricted, I squat and I’m grabbed, at the knees, the waist, the chest and when I stand back up the shirttail has moved out of its perfect position. The whole thing is different…socks. I need socks! Which for which shoes? To the sock drawer for appropriate apparel. At least these have some protective position. If they don’t get wet, my feet will be warm. However, memories are retrieved. Memories of being cooped up and so is bacteria. The way socks smell when they come off should be a clue. These are underwear, the thing that must be changed frequently because the body can’t breathe. Well, there are fond memories of cozy foot socks, sliding on mom’s glassy floors. These will be crammed into foot gear, however, because the foot gear doesn’t fit the human foot. Socks are comfort against abrasions from ill-fitting footwear. My feet have always been in between sized, the heel has not grown, but the rest has spread out like a duck’s foot. These feet have no common shoe size. Whose feet do? I keep shoes by the door. I am barefoot as often as is practical. My whole body moves together, when I put on stylish shoes, it doesn’t work correctly. I know this after having shoes deform my body, causing disfigurement and pain in my feet all the way through my back’s natural system of movement and structure.
I have walked through the house in the socks. Today, there is a small pebble that quickly brushes off. They are not dirty looking. They look clean. You see, if I don’t wear shoes in the house, I don’t track in dirt and the floors stay clean, save for a dusting every so often.
But these are not the correct footwear. I must return to the closet to search for what someone else demands that I torture my body with, for some peculiar reason.
Stepping outside, I am in clothing. Usually, I’m in my best. I am alive with my nature, alert, and aware of the gift of a body and its place in this world and universe. Today, I am wrapped in an alien form, an unnatural obviously impractical useless costume. Do I really need such a spacesuit for the planet that I was born from? The bundle in my crotch wads up even more, as I drive. The shirt sticks to my back afterwards. I must blow air-conditioning to be comfortable as my fuel gauge drops.
I arrive at the occasion. I’m on display. I’m complemented on my social adeptness of personal decoration, as we all wear our costumes and turn down the thermostat to accommodate our clothing.
I want to start a conversation about clothing obsession, but I cannot. I must not be a freak amongst peers. They wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain myself and the behavior of naturism and the reality of nudity. I would hit a wall, or worse, it would fall on me, leaving me socially dead. For some, everything is dependent on these trappings, oh boy what a good description, TRAPPINGS! Many of us live in fear of an affront to these trappings. They twist in their sleep having nightmares about being undressed in public, waking up in fear, before relief.
All of this, and more, is the act of wearing impractical clothing. I generally skip all of this, maybe placing a nonrestrictive covering on my feet and go about my day. No fuss, no bother, and very alive. If one were to calculate the time choosing, dressing, washing, hanging, and buying clothing that would be years out of a lifetime, and then there is the time in wasted thought and concern bouncing up in a brain…and then there is the expense.
On the other hand, perhaps it would be second nature to go through all of this, if I just wore clothing. It might be easy to conform. I’d get used to it. No, not now. Every time I took a shower, every time I undressed for bed, every time I got into a swimming pool, or felt the sun only on my face, I would start to unravel. I understand the truth. There is no going back. The training in the unnatural that I was given, starting as a toddler, has been lifted. Sanity does not shake off easily, memory survives.
And sometimes, people that know me as a naturist criticize me. They tell me that I am obsessed with nudity, or rebellious, or eccentric for comporting myself as such. Others, if they knew, would judge me sick, obscene, an exhibitionist, a perverted fool. I know how good naked feels, just as any child. Experience with aging has taught me how unhealthy clothing can be. I have spent enough time naked to know the truth. It is the textile world that is obsessed with clothing. I’m not the one obsessed, I just know better. I’m just not being silly anymore.