Letters to Domai
When I was a postgraduate at University, Louise was a lecturer in my department. She was simply stunning. She had leggy classic model looks but without a hint of snobbishness or bitchiness that you might associate with models or beautiful women. In fact she had a shy tomboyish personality that I loved. She was tall and slender, had dark short lustrous hair, a smooth olive complexion, the most captivating hazel eyes with honey coloured flecks, small perky breasts, slim hips. When it came to her turn to talk in our weekly staff-postgrad meetings she would get red around her neck and chest from embarrassment - a vulnerability that I loved. Of course she was way out of my league. She had recently split with her long-term boyfriend and I didn't dare think I could ever have a chance with her.
One day I heard about a Spencer Tunick event scheduled for our city and this news caused my heart to jump. Spencer is known for his naked art "installations" where hundreds of people congregate in public to be photographed. I had heard Tunick's name before in association with these events and fantasized about taking part. I had searched on the Internet and seen pictures and reports.
When I was a kid I loved being nude; we would swim nude in the local lakes and rivers in the summer and would ride our bikes naked round the local woodland. It always seemed so free and also exciting to be doing something illicit. My feelings hadn't changed as an adult but the opportunities diminished. The idea of mingling naked with complete strangers in public was so thrilling and now, without even thinking about it, the real option to do so was thrown at me. From the first moment, before I could persuade myself otherwise, I somehow knew I would end up taking part even though the thought scared the life out of me. My biggest fear was that of, erm, getting excited and embarrassing myself.
Well, I registered my interest on the Internet and before I knew it I woke in the early hours of a summer Sunday morning, showered, dressed and staggered in the dark icy air down towards the river through deserted streets with bleary eyes. I hadn't told a soul about my exploits and prayed I wouldn't be recognized. Queuing for registration was weird. People shuffled about, the silence broken by whispers and a few nervous giggles. I kept my head down - I couldn't bear to look at anyone. Even though everyone was there for the same reason and, incredibly, would soon all be naked, this process seemed shameful.
Issued with a plastic bag for my clothes I made my way to the assembly point. The bag was my first tangible dose of reality because soon I would be placing all my clothes in it and there would be no going back. I wasn't sure I wanted to go through with it or even if I could. But like a Bungee jump I once did, I had entered a zombie state and knew it would all happen automatically.
Megaphoned instructions cut the silence and I raised my head now for the first time and scanned some of the others. Old, young, slim, fat, baggy, hairy, scruffy, prim - and that was with clothes on. I wasn't sure I wanted to see all that ugly flesh naked. Then a sight scared the life out of me; walking towards me from the registration area was Louise. She was unmistakable even though the morning light was still dim. She was alone as far as I could tell. Like a rabbit in headlights I was rooted to the spot and before I could break my paralysis she saw me. Her hand covered her mouth in surprise and I forced a grin.
"I didn't know..." she began as she neared me.
"What, that I am a pervert who likes stripping in public?" I replied. "God, of all people to meet," I added.
"Yeah I know", she said. We looked at each other in despair. We raced through possibilities: going to opposite sides of the crowd, backing out and going home, not looking at each other no matter what.
Then she interrupted with, "Oh, what the heck, why don't we just get on with it, after all we both came here for the same reason."
"What, you mean stay together?" I probed.
"Yeah, but no perving," she laughed. The ice was broken and we both visibly relaxed. "That looks a good spot," she said pointing to a space next to a low wall. "I hope none of my students are here," she added. Until now my fear was being seen naked by her and suddenly I realized I'd be seeing her naked too. This thrilled and terrified me.
Before I could process the implications of seeing the object of my desires in the altogether, we reached the wall and there was a command to strip. We looked round in shock. Some incredibly enthusiastic individuals dropped their clothes immediately while others, like us, were more hesitant.
Louise led the way again, saying, "Here goes, let's do it. Turn your back and no peeking!" I did peek, to make sure she really was going through with it and sure enough, her arms were stretched above her as she pulled her clothes over her head. No evidence of a bra, just a long bare back from her shoulder blades to the top of her jeans. I finished peeling my clothes off and the combined icy air and nerves caused me to shudder all over.
"You done?" I ventured.
"As nature intended!" she replied.
"Um, we can't do this whole thing back-to-back, maybe we should turn side-to-side," I proposed.
"But I'm already looking at you," she replied, "Nice bum!" I whirled in surprise and sure enough she was facing me, laughing like mad. I must have been glowing red; here was the most beautiful woman I've ever met, naked and commenting on my bum.
I was hovering my hands in front of my parts trying to conceal them thinking that clutching them might be improper. She was making an effort to conceal herself too. She was bent forward slightly with her legs crossed. She had one hand held up so her arm partially covered her breasts and her other hand loosely covered her lower areas. She was goose bumped from head to toe. I had a tantalizing glimpse of the fleshy curves of the exposed parts of her breasts.
"So what have you been doing this week, Rob?" she asked in a deep voice, mimicking our department head in our weekly meeting. I noticed her neck was flushed red down to her chest.
"Frolicking about naked with Louise in public," I laughed.
I realized "frolicking" suggested something altogether different but she didn't seem to notice as she continued, "So have you learnt anything new in the process?"
"Only that it's too damn cold to do this!"
The banter was distracting us from the blatant fact that we were naked in front of each other. We were instructed to start moving and we walked side-by-side to an area where we were told to form a snaking shape beside the river. I could see Louise was becoming more relaxed now but we were both hugging our arms across out chests to fight off the cold. There wasn't much time to talk amidst all the shuffling and commands.
I had barely been aware of the fact that a thousand or more naked people surrounded me and as I scanned the crowd they all looked normal. Bodily parts hung all over the place and the same collection of people who had looked bizarre clothed somehow seemed normal naked. The odd ones out were the clothed marshals herding us about. Unbelievably being naked together was a means of relieving tension. I realized many people seemed to be in pairs and I felt comforted by the presence of my partner.
We did lots more marching about forming different shapes in a variety of places. We had adjusted to the cold a bit more and the sun had even cast some warming rays over us. Louise had even joked that I give her a piggyback to save her bare feet from the cold and dirt. At least I think it was a joke. The thought of her naked form clinging to my back was too much to process. We had even linked arms a few times and brushed against each other several times. We were more relaxed now and we whispered constantly to each other, mostly comments on other people; how skinny that girl was, how that guy's penis was pierced, how it is true what they say about black men, how that girl must have fake boobs.
The last observation resulted in, "I'm glad mine are small." Me too, I thought.
When we lined up on a terraced slope she briefly hugged me from behind saying, "Who would have believed it?"
Apart from our first coy exposure when we covered ourselves with hands, we had managed to avoid looking square on to each other - I had seen plenty of her from behind on occasions when we marched single file. Her bum was peachy-perfect. I was aware she had walked behind me too, perhaps not quite as impressed by my buns. Otherwise we were mostly side-by-side and talked while looking ahead. But I did catch enticing glimpses of her figure in profile and had a glimpse of her tidy little breasts. I could tell her nipples were erect from the cold. I'm sure she was aware of my glances and I was aware of her gaze too, but I didn't know if she had seen all of me yet. Given that I was shrivelled by the cold these weren't the best of circumstances to be seen naked.
We were eventually told it was over and we could return to get dressed. This was the first moment when we were not preoccupied with the event and finally we turned to face each other. Our initial shyness had dissolved and neither of us was trying to cover anything. Without saying anything we both looked each other up and down. Louise was sublime, from her grubby feet, up her slender legs to the neatly trimmed triangle, her perfectly angled waist, pert little breasts, boyish shoulders to that beautiful face.
After a moment of silence and realizing she too had seen me from head to toe she smiled and said, "Shrinkage, eh?" I was mortified as I looked down to see that the little fellow had all but retreated into my body for warmth. "I'm sure he is perfect when he is warm" she said, and it seemed like the nicest, sexiest thing anyone had ever said to me.
We walked with arms linked back to our bags and found them after a while among all the others. Loads of people had already dressed and this broke the comfort that the group nudity had provided. I somehow felt more naked than before and wanted to dress quickly. But first, I fished my camera out of my bag and asked Louise if she would take my picture before I dressed.
"Not that I want to perv over my own naked picture, I just want to remember I had the courage to do this." There was no problem smiling as she raised her camera to snap the picture. "Hold on", I said and turned my back and had a quick rub to alleviate the shrinkage problem, then turned back.
"Better already," she quipped.
A voice interrupted, "You two want a picture together?" Before I knew it we had our arms round each other smiling like crazy while an elderly lady with flabby breasts snapped away. This was so weird I expected to snap out of a dream any second. I snapped a few covert pictures of the people around me for the record.
We stopped for a coffee on the way home and reviewed the pictures on the camera LCD. We agreed to go out during the week but expressed mock disappointment that we would have to wear clothes. With a warm hug that befitted our new feelings for each other we parted and headed home to catch up on some sleep.
Next Wednesday at the weekly meeting when the question arose, "Louise, what have you been doing this week?" she couldn't stop sniggering as she tried to talk and the group looked on, puzzled. I think she got even redder than ever round her neck.
(39 years old)