Baring my soul

I have never thought of myself as a hippie or even new age. I shave my armpits, pay people to wax off my eyebrows and would try to survive on an all-meat diet, except for my phobia about developing scurvy. I drive a car that is not powered in the least by electricity and my idea of roughing it is going for a day without a shower and cable television.

But somewhere along the line, through a lifetime of growing up in Ashland, I realized I picked up a couple things along the way. Most notably, I really have no problem with a lone, naked, out-of-towner wandering through the city. As a parent, I have to admit that my son never had the opportunity for this free anatomy and physiology lesson being offered by the side of the street and I don't know if the sight of a penis would create terror in his little heart (somehow I doubt that, as he does, occasionally, take a bath). Dogs, on the other hand, do scare Silas to the point where he would probably rather throw himself into traffic rather than cross paths with the smallest, friendliest of lap dogs. Somehow I doubt the City Council will enact a citywide ban of dogs, even though they are much more prevalent than naked people. Just this morning I saw at least five dogs and not a single nude derriere.

I watched the City Council meeting with an open mind and I can certainly understand where many of the speakers were coming from in their viewpoints. Certainly children who have been victims of abuse could be further traumatized by the sight of a naked man close to their school. A buffer zone around schools seems like an appropriate response for that segment of our population. Truly, children are less adept at handling difficult situations than adults and thus need an additional level of protection; I just do not believe the greatest evil facing children is naked people. I have been to training classes regarding the prevention of child abuse and I have learned that evil is usually much better at hiding itself.

My biggest problem with the City Council enacting a citywide nudity ban is that it seems like a knee-jerk reaction to an isolated incident. Packs of naked people are not roaming the city in search of school zones. Naked people have not formed their own political party in town on the platform of mandatory nude City Council meetings. Of course the ban would also interfere with my life goal of losing 40 pounds and taking a triumphant naked run from one end of town to the other.

How about a compromise, along the lines of the new fireworks ban? Nudity permits. Not just for parades (please inform me when the naked parade will start, as I'd like to put my blanket out now), but for a year-long period. The requirements could be a background check and an exam as to where the schools in town are located so they could be sure to give a wide berth. This would, of course, necessitate the use of fanny-packs among the nude so that they could be sure to have their permit on them at all times. This way we can all feel safe in the knowledge that our local naked people have been properly registered with the government and the child molesters are suitably clothed and camouflaged among general society.

I want to keep my child safe. He is particularly frightened of dogs and polenta. I know that my job as a parent is to keep him safe from the things he doesn't even know to be afraid of yet, such as people who speed in school zones and man-eating sharks. I guess under my shaved armpits and waxed eyebrows hides the naked soul of a hippie, who finds nothing intrinsically frightening about nudity.

Zoë Abel is currently working on losing those 40 pounds in preparation for her jog of triumph. You can contact her at

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