I often forget how much of a prude I am. I forget, mostly, because my prudishness is inadvertent. I don’t want to be a prude, nor do I make an effort to promote prudishness. It’s just how I am… for unknown reasons. Somehow I exited a Christian education in the heart of Texas with a slightly odd relationship with sexuality. Go figure. Well, for the sake of modesty, go not-so-form-fitting-dress-with-a-modest-neckline.
I forget about my prudishness until I am woken up to it by external circumstances. These circumstances rarely happen, since I seldom put myself in situations that involve delicate topics. On the very rare occasion, however, I find myself confronted head-on (or other things-on) by nudity. And I don’t mean streakers. Thankfully I have never run into an exposer, but if I ever did, at least my reaction of running away in terror would be warranted. In museums, however, it’s frowned upon to sprint in the other direction after accidentally making eye contact with a naked statue. I have always been completely unsure of how to react to nudity. In fourth grade, while most of my peers were curiously asking questions about the female anatomy during “the talk,” I was taping pieces of paper over the nipples of the woman in my biology textbook.
It’s not that I have a moral disagreement with the naked human body. I simply don’t know how to act like a normal person when I come across one. Recently, I went to the gym for the first time since being vaccinated. I strutted into the locker room ready to throw on my running shoes, when suddenly a woman walked out in front of me completely naked. In the time I spent away from gyms I had totally forgotten that it’s customary to walk around locker rooms without clothes on. We locked eyes and I froze.
“Hi!” I chirped. “How are you today?”
Oh my God, why did I say that?
“Um. I’m good. How are you…?”
Why am I doing this to myself?
“Oh I am just great, it’s such a beautiful day don’t you think?”
I could have just ended it there. She probably THINKS I’m insane.
Her “totally!” was very enthusiastic. So enthusiastic, I think, that it might have been a tactic to avert being killed by the insane person she probably thought she was talking to. I shuffled away mortified by my awkwardness.
Perhaps one day I will be comfortable in those types of situations, but until then I will be avoiding all beaches just in case. I can’t stand the chance of accidentally showing up at a nude beach… I’d be stuck in conversation for hours.