Although I was fond of being naked outdoors before that came to an end with the assault I endured at age ten, in my youth I had my doubts about nudists. It was not a thing that happened anywhere I was aware of in Iowa. All I knew about it was the jokes they made about it in TV comedies like the sole nudist park episode of the Brian Kieth Show. And my psyche and personal body image were extremely fragile due to the trauma. I was in no way willing to risk the kind of exposure to ridicule that association with nudism would have for me.
When the twins who claimed to be nudists teased me in my classroom with details about it, I was keenly aware that there were bright red lines involved in that issue that cannot be crossed. Especially since I was a school teacher in charge of vulnerable pubescent boys and girls who obviously had their own issues in terms of nudity, sexuality, and personal body image. There was danger involved in being connected to ideas like nudism right along with communism, liberalism, and any suggestion that a teacher might be behaving toward students in an inappropriate way. I was fully aware that merely being accused of something could destroy my career, whether there was any relationship to the truth behind the accusation or not.
My career as a school teacher was a sacred trust as far as I was concerned. My first teaching job was in a poor, rural school district in deep South Texas. I vowed that not only would I never be a threat to molest or assault a child or a teenager, but I would also actively try to prevent every child entrusted to me from being victimized in that way. It was crucial to my own belief in myself as well as my belief in the goodness of mankind that my plan would work out for the best.
There were a number of young boys, fatherless, raised by grandparents or aunts, and exposed to abusive adults, that needed a male mentor enough to show up at my door. I never let them in without the windows open and a clear view for every passerby that nothing wrong or inappropriate was going on. They came to talk, to get help with homework, to play role-playing games, or sometimes to just hang out. The County Sheriff, the Baptist Preacher, and the head of the high school Science department were all aware of what I was doing because their sons all came to participate in role-playing games, computer games, and discussions. I underwent training to become qualified as a foster parent for anyone who needed that (though it was specified by me that I couldn’t be a foster parent for girls while still being single for obvious reasons. And the city had no social workers at all in residence, so I was never called upon for actual parenting experience.) I was supported in that effort by my principal during the third year I was teaching. He saw how effective I was teaching problem-child boys. He sent a couple of troubled kids my way for mentoring.
My girlfriend in the early 80s was a teacher’s aide who worked both in my classroom and in the classrooms of the two other English teachers on campus. Ysandra was a divorcee and a much more world-wise person than I was. She had been through some trauma too. In fact, she was the first person I was able to tell about the sexual assault I had endured because she had been abused too and also endured the kind of moment where the traumatic event comes back to haunt you, complete in every horrible detail. And she and I planned dates together in the Austin area because my parents were living in Taylor, Texas, an Austin suburb, and her sister lived with a husband and child in an apartment complex in downtown Austin. That apartment complex, however, was a clothing-optional apartment complex that was destined to push nudism right up in my face once again.
That, of course, will be the completely embarrassing topic of the third part of this essay.