I know a guy who has a thing about getting naked. He literally salivates at the sight of anything green or running water. These earthy objects, it seems, serve as a psychological signal that invariably shout to him,
“Get back to nature!”
Frankly, it made me rather uncomfortable. What was going on with this guy?
I often had a minor bit of a wobble agonising over possible scenarios which may present themselves. Like what if he saw me one day and mid-greeting had an episode.
“Get back to nature!”
What if in his “Garden of Eden” moment he decided to greet me, casting off his regular sideways man hug, deciding instead to go full frontal?
There was another “thing” I also never really understood about this guy. Curiously, in his time of nakedness, hunger would invariably rear its head. He was a bread and fish sort of man and I leaned more towards a pizza arrangement; Like that nice one from Dominoes with lots of garlic sauce. Everybody knows its all about those little extra satchels of garlic mayonnaise! Guaranteed!
We were really different. I kept my stuff on and he loved casting his off. To be honest, this guy unnerved me.
Now before you call in the etiquette police, I need to say something about this naked behaviour. First of all, this guy’s penchant for taking it off wasn’t anything near to what you may be thinking about. His nakedness had nothing to do with clothes and a glistening chest in the evening sun. But rather he had quite honestly a thing for sharing his life with others and being downright real with people. His whole mantra was,
“I’d like to know the real you. But naturally we can’t get there unless I show you who I am really am.”
And so he often shared with those willing to listen to his story; he was a thirty-something single parent called Gary who adored his little girl, Lilly. He didn’t care very much for football but had a secret crush on everything ping-pong. On Tuesdays, he sat down with a mug of hot chocolate, and dragged on his Captain Picard uniform to watch old episodes of Star Trek, Next Generation. Gary gets really emotional when talking about his marriage. You know when he is upset when the Dolly Parton cd’s come on. Many would find the thought of a thirty-something man banging out Dolly Parton quite disturbing. But the truth is that there was nothing wrong with Gary. He was just different.
Incredibly, despite everything, he was always hungry to share stories about his life and the daughter he loved. Hungry to talk about his failures and the job he went to every day. For example, he’d often wished his boss was more liked David Brent from “The Office.”
“He’d be a cool manager, no doubt.”
When we first met, to be honest, I did give him a hard time. He dreamt of being naked. He was prepared to look stupid and vulnerable and I criticised him for it. But I have to admit, after a while I actually started enjoying these moments of clarity. I really began to know this guy. Our conversations went beyond twitter limitations. Despite my preconceptions that there was something gravely wrong with him, I actually think he was possibly the smartest guy in the room.
His nakedness meant that there was simply no place to hide. His triumphs and worries were out there for all to see. He wanted a friendship where he could share who he really was, a friendship where I was not the irritated onlooker, but the understanding friend. Gary spent his days wanting to be naked, to open himself up to the possibility of real community.
I am certainly not a naked guru. I do have a lot of ugly red “life jumpers”, and weighty “life is rubbish” backpacks. You would think that it makes a lot of sense to dump the whole lot. Im possibly a bit of an emotional hoarder…
Like I said. Maybe ??Gary was the brightest guy in the room.
Maybe we all need to be naked.
Inspired by Matthew 25:35