Millions of people were infected with herpes after a recent law lifting the ban on public nudity. The national death-toll currently stands at 500,000 and counting. And yet, despite this horrible loss of life, nudists have been refusing to put on clothes, demanding that they have the right to frequent public places, like restaurants and grocery stores, without the need to cover themselves.
Hey . . . it could have been worse. I was tempted to make this headline, “Millions Die from No Underwear.”
The hysteria surrounding masks perfectly illustrates the absurd, backwards world we are living in. If anyone was going to be an advocate for the freedom to NOT wear an article of clothing, it would have been me. I have been arguing for public nudity for decades while suffering the discomforts of bathing suits, church shoes, ties, and the occasional, less-than sanitary undergarments.
When I was a kid, my friend invited me to Busch Gardens, where we stood on the bridge next to the Tanganyika Tidal Wave, watching a boat full of people crash into a giant pool as we waited for the ginormous wave to knock us on our butts. When it was all over, even our bones felt damp, but it was great fun. But later that day, I suffered from a terrible—and I do mean terrible—rash. I was so embarrassed, I didn’t tell anyone, especially my friend or his parents. So I just limped around the park in agony, trying to enjoy myself while praying for the day to be over. When we arrived at his house, I had to excuse myself with a lie, despite his wanting me to sleep over, so I could get home and change. If we could have been naked on the bridge, I wouldn’t have had to endure from the toxic chemicals in my suit. And it wasn’t as if we hadn’t been naked together before. We went to the same radical Baptist School, where Full Monty showering was the norm. But being a public place, the park would have called the police on his parents had we been allowed to go nude, not to mention the bevy of disapproving stares we’d have had to experience. Now, I am sure that what happened to me isn’t that extraordinary, and yet, even after 30+ years, I have never seen a mob of angry nudists on the news insisting they have a right to discard their suits.
When COVID hit last year, I found the wearing of masks slightly annoying. On the Nick Alimonos Scale of Annoyance, I’d rank shopping with a mask at about a 2 or 3 tops, depending on the straps. A cold bathing suit with a mountain of sand in my crotch? 7 or 8. And in my state of Florida, at least, you can go mask-free at the park, the beach, in your car, at home, and a million other places. Now imagine having to wear a mask ALL THE TIME . . . and I mean ALL THE FRIGGIN’ TIME, except when showering. I think you get my point.
I work in a restaurant, and my wife, who works with me, is immunocompromised. Early last year, I very much feared for her life. We considered closing up shop but couldn’t honestly afford to do so. Instead, we put up a bunch of “please keep 6′ apart” stickers and placards reminding people to wear masks, and we created a physical barricade of chairs and tables between ourselves and the customers. Most people respected the rules, but we also had idiots PUSHING through the barricade we had set up, and all I could think was, WTF is wrong with you? Don’t you know there’s a pandemic going on? Of course, we had the occasional “COVID is a Left-Wing-Democrat-CNN-Biden-Conspiracy” Tribe, who’d roll their eyes whenever we’d tell them masks are required, or storm out in a political rage. We also got the Travelers from a Parallel Universe, apparently, who were oblivious to the pandemic, which forced me to add a new sign every week: a sign at the front door, a sign at the podium, a sign at the register, a standalone sandwich board sign, and so on. My customers have to LITERALLY crawl through a gauntlet of “Wear Your Fucking Mask, Your Scientifically Illiterate Moron” signs to order a pizza, and they still come up with this puzzled look on their faces. “Huh? Mask? I don’t have one.” Last week, a customer was so incensed about the mask rule, he threatened to call the police on my wife, this, followed by a string of profanity.
Here’s the thing: we don’t have a “No Shoes, No Shirt” sign, yet we almost never have to tell anyone to put on clothes. Once in a blue moon, we might see the occasional shoeless straggler, but at this point, I honestly wouldn’t care. They could show up bare-ass naked so long as they were wearing a goddamn mask because a naked guy isn’t going to kill my wife.
But this is the world we live in, where a good chunk of the population will rage over having to cover their faces for a few minutes to pick up their food, despite a lack of face-coverings contributing to half a million deaths, while EVERYBODY, Left or Right, Democrat or Republican, conspiracy theorist or rational human being, wouldn’t imagine entering a public venue with their nipples showing. The way people react around nudity, you’d think it’s the primary cause of cancer, that a global pandemic killed millions following a gathering of Chinese naturists. But we don’t live in a rational world. Our reality is populated by right-wing pundits like Tucker Carlson, who tells his viewers that having kids in masks is child abuse, and that the parents of those kids should be arrested. All the while, we can all agree that letting your kids frolic at the beach in nothing but what God gave them might very well get you thrown in the slammer.