There are many practical benefits that come along with nudism. For example, a nudist never has to worry about staining one’s clothes, a nudist never has to bother holding out his hand to see if it has started to rain, aesthetically unpleasing tan lines are never a problem, and for a nudist the toughest question in any person’s life (“what to wear?”) is seldom asked.
SPOK is the area health and fitness centre whose facilities are regularly used by ECLA students. After working out, many students leave their sweaty clothes in their lockers and enter the SPOK sauna to restore their good health through additional sweating and the purging of toxins.
A visit to the SPOK sauna renders many health dividends, but it is also a place where extreme discrimination takes place. A SPOK sauna is where even the tiniest article of modesty-ensuring clothing is severely frowned upon. “Those who don’t accept the buff aren’t tough enough,” is the tacit and often explicit rule of a SPOK sauna.
Wearing a swimsuit in the SPOK sauna is like consuming pizza and vodka at the same time. Neither of these two should ever be mixed because they often lead to tears and embarrassment. Furthermore, if you enter a SPOK sauna in your swimsuit you’ll be instantly be labeled as squeamish and narrow-minded. And if coy smirks and furtive glances of your sauna-mates don’t pulverize you into a pulp of shivering shame, chances are that the SPOK authorities will come to inform you of the error of your ways, saying that “you must take your shorts off.”
“Why must I take my shorts off?” is never a good question to ask in a sauna. Not only will it incite laughter, but it might also result in a lengthy lesson on why nakedness is healthy. Naked people in public places know why they are naked. They will tell you that the Ancient Greeks regularly flung away their restrictive armors so that they could stretch and wrestle in the buff. They knew that clothes were a turf conducive for the development of countless kinds of bacteria and fungi.
They – the SPOK sauna users and the Ancient Greeks – were both aware of the positive correlation between the amount of clothes one wore and the number of urinary tract infections. And perhaps the most important benefit that nudity brought not only to the Ancient Greeks but to nudists from any age, including today, is that nudity increases acceptance of one’s body and therefore acceptance of oneself (no wonder Achilles fought and Socrates thought with such confidence).
On the other end of the spectrum there is me. Nudity, especially the nakedness of strangers, has never boosted my self-esteem. On the contrary, this subject has often made me skip my meals and has been the theme of my most gruesome nightmares. My uneasiness with nudity can be traced back to an incident that occurred when I was twelve years old. At that time I was my neighborhood’s milk boy and for very low pay my task was to distribute bottles of milk to elderly people. This fiscal injustice was cause for the fierce and unforgettable protests by the milk boys throughout my city that resulted in the famed Gacko milk boy union, and oddly enough had significant repercussions on nudist rights.
It all started on a mild and benign spring morning. It was a quick shift of work that day and only one bottle stood in my way to freedom. Since most of the people were not at home when I brought their milk, I never rang the bell, nor did I knock before entering customers’ homes. My boss, the evil Boss Slobodan, (who also often loved to work shirtless), gave me the keys to all of the houses I delivered to. My last stop on my rout was the Janjic Household that consisted of only Mr. Janjic and his overweight cat that drank the milk I delivered.
I entered Mr. Janjic’s apartment and walked into the kitchen. When I got there, Mr. Janjic was standing in front of the fridge, butt-naked, holding yesterday’s empty bottle of milk in his right hand and a sandwich in his left. He was startled. I was startled. He shouted. I shouted. He covered his private parts with the empty (see-through but magnifying) bottle of milk and I covered my eyes with my hands, dropping and breaking the new bottle of milk on the floor. “I wish I had my shorts on,” is all that Mr. Janjic said before he threw me out of his house.
“I wish I had my shorts on,” is exactly what I thought to myself when I ventured into the SPOK sauna. “I wish that we all had our shorts on,” was my second thought. “Shorts are great,” was my third thought. “Why must I take my shorts off?” is the question that I will ask next time I am told to strip down in front of strangers at SPOK. I will ask this question and then I will tell the SPOK authorities about my milk boy days and about the incident with Mr. Janjic, and they will surely see in their hearts the unforeseen damage their policies have caused on the injured souls of the anti-nude minority. Viva la revolución.
Milan Djurasovic (AY ’11, USA)