(About a 4 minute read)
I can still recall how surprised most of us were back in 1974 when someone pinned a semi-nude Polaroid photograph of Vicki on the high school announcements board in the hallway by the principal’s office.
Of course, it was only up for a few minutes before one of the teachers noticed it. Up just long enough for me to pass by, glance at it, and — this may surprise you — fail to realize it was a photo of a semi-nude girl!
But at seventeen? You must wonder how my hormones could have permitted my brain to pass right on by a semi-nude girl — a cheerleader no less!
Simple. What high school student on earth could image a girl his own age posing semi-nude for a photo in 1974? I didn’t see it because it was impossible. I would have believed I had seen a real leprechaun in the hallway faster than believe I had seen a photo of Vicki sans her top. In 1974, only suspiciously sophisticated big city kids could possibly be the sort of kids do anything like that!
By the way, if you are curious, Vicki’s boyfriend took the photo with his dad’s camera, then somehow lost it. Who found it and pinned it the announcement board remains unknown.
Things sure have changed, is all I can say. I started this blog 12 years ago and there have been about nine or maybe ten generous women who have gotten it into their heads to send me nudes. Even sometimes in their very first email. Perhaps you can imagine how perplexing that can be to an old, half-adled country boy?
I mean, back in my day, we would have had to ask for nudes — if any of us had been bright enough to think to ask.
Not that I’m upset about such things. I’m just perplexed, is all. I still have no real clue why anyone would email nude photos to a perfect stranger — a perfect stranger in most ways.
Here’s the closest I come to explaining it to myself. Some people today have gone beyond feeling “faceless in the crowd”. Some are now feeling like they’re mere commodities. That is, they feel like they are as interchangeable as grains of rice. And, perhaps, just as equally replaceable. So they send off nudes to stand out, to make themselves individuals again.
But I’m not sure about that. So any ideas?
Here’s what I have figured out. You can now and then guess a thing or two about a person by the nudes she sends you. For instance, a South African woman included a nude of herself to illustrate a story she told me about how much she liked going nude in nature.
In her pic, she was too far away from the camera to be recognizable, but I thought “What a pleasant, open-minded person she must be, maybe one of those fabled free spirits I keep hearing about.” I mean, she might have been thinking that it would be nice to spice up Paul’s day for him at no real cost to herself.
She was wrong of course. It didn’t lighten my day. Instead, I almost went insane trying to blow her up to wall-poster size at the local 24 hour copy store that evening. “Sir, my manager requests that you pay off your tab before it gets too high. You currently owe us for 618 copies. Will that be cash or credit? And also my manager wishes to extend her congratulations, Sir. She recalls you were in here last month blowing up images of Balinese donkey porn. She wants me to pass along her words, ‘Welcome back! Welcome back from the brink!’, Sir.”
A woman from Bermuda sent me three separate videos centered on the timeless visual arts theme of “Ways I Like to Pose on My Bed in My Videos for Paul”. Sadly, she was not grinning in the words she wrote to accompany her videos. Her husband had first neglected her for years, then in recent months taken a mistress.
She had three kids and no work history outside of being a wife and mother. She said she felt “as lost as a lost puppy”. Yeah, I thought — reading a bit more between her lines than she was actually saying — about as lost as a lost puppy might feel if everyone in its litter had gotten run over by a truck except itself.
In the end, both of us were surprised how well it turned out. About eight or nine months later, she bumped into an old classmate — a man she’d more or less grown up with. They soon enough discovered a chemistry for each other that neither had felt for the other when growing up. Life doesn’t guarantee miraculously happy endings, but sometimes one of them comes along anyway.
The most bizarre nude — the one that most made me think and feel “I live in a different world now” — was sent by a woman from Florida. Only the nude wasn’t of her but of her 23 year old daughter! “I asked and she said ‘yes if you really want me to mom.’.” I don’t want to repeat her reason for sending me her daughter’s nude, rather than her own. It’s just too sad. So rather than quote her word for word, I just say she suffered from a profound lack of self-esteem.
Everyone seems to have her own reason or reasons to send a near stranger something so intimately revealing of their bodies — and often enough revealing of their selves. But in the bigger picture the whole phenomenon seems to me pretty close to being something new under the sun. I could be wrong about that, but this seems to me something really new.
So, where do you suppose all this is going? What will things look like 10 or 20 years from now? Any ideas?