I intend to write a book of essays about naturism and nudism, my attempts as a teacher to avoid becoming a practitioner while still teaching, and my eventual yielding to the urge to become what I avoided becoming for too long.
Now I know from my own family and my various communities over the years that nudists and naturists are generally considered to be a category of crazy people. That was especially a pointed observation in Iowa during the winter time when I was a boy in the 60s.
Of course, it was the 60s. And even though the hippies and other allegedly naked crazy people lived in far-away California and far-away New York, and closer, but still far-away Chicago, there were people we all gossiped about that would gad about their house in the all-together. Apparently, we knew because somebody, probably an old-lady gossip gatherer, had been looking through somebody else’s back windows. And some of those local crazy people turned out to be ordinary farmers, bankers, and even members of the Belle City town council. Really, the councilman and his wife are the reason I am calling the town by the fictionalized version of its name. Not because I am trying to protect the people’s identities, which you can figure out with very limited research, but because the old-lady gossip gatherer may have fictionalized what she allegedly saw through their back window and talked about at morning coffee in the Uptown Cafe.
But you see me here in a drawing of myself as a nude boy because from very early on in life, I felt the urge to give myself the freedom of costume… or lack thereof… as the councilman and his wife obviously gave to themselves in the privacy of their own home.
I was a big fan of skinny-dipping, and spending alone time nude in the woods south of town and the tree-lined pastures down by the creek to the west of town. I enjoyed being naked, although I dreaded the Devil finding out what I had already told Jesus in private, and then being condemned to Hell to burn for eternity… although, according to the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch in the Encyclopedia Britannica at school, I would still get to be naked.
This, then, will be a book both humorous and potentially sad about naked people and why naked can be good. I will include in this book works of art that I have made portraying people who are intentionally naked and happy about it. So, if your eyeballs will catch on fire for seeing naked people in artwork, your eyeballs should already be producing prodigious amounts of smoke, if not open flames. You better stop looking before you are blind. Some people’s Old Testament God is obviously much crankier than the God Jesus told me about when I talked to him in private.
I do intend to make fun of people who like to be nude in this book. But I will also make fun of myself for being one of those people. And I don’t intend to spare people who wear clothes all the time from a little bit of satire either. (Really, Mrs. Simms? You made Richard wear a swimsuit in the bathtub until he was twenty?)