I say I am not protective of my personal privacy, but that's not completely true.
If you ask, I will tell you a great many things about myself that others would consider quite personal. Do you want to know my political opinions, religious beliefs, social and economic circumstances, or how I feel about my family? Inquire to any depth you like. Care to know my phobias (I have two), my dreams (a multitude), what brings me to tears (Hey – have you seen those Hallmark commercials?)? I will give you a straight answer, without asking you why you wish to know. There are so many pieces of information and bits of “private matter” that people guard closely, and so many “secrets” reserved solely for their nearest and dearest. And, I look at the quality of all this stuff, and can only wonder why it warrants such a high security clearance.
I am a bit out of tune with the security protocols of American society. Oh, I can keep a secret from the best of them, provided that I actually understand that it is a secret. And, I have practiced recognizing sensitive information (Is that a secret? Is that embarrassing? Does anyone care?). I will admit, however, that I must regularly admonish myself against asking questions that breach the privacy halo, so if I ever violate yours, I apologize. Please forgive me. I just don’t get what all the fuss is about.
I have these rogue, soft, tender spots that I shield from the world. I know – we all do. But, I am a sky-wide-open being! Why am I afflicted? Is it a rash? Where did it come from? And, can I buy a cure? See, these spots are very tender. If you touch one, I will flinch. If one of my spots is exposed to full daylight, I can actually feel it scurrying back into the shadows.
Then, I will say to myself, “How odd,”
Or, if I am really afflicted: “Shit!”
Which is a roundabout way which brings me to tonight’s Basic Drawing class lesson: model drawing. We had drawn our model once before, practicing quick sketches of her in her black leotard with the wee flowers around the neck, and her turban (let’s not freak out trying to draw hair!). When I entered the class tonight, she waved merrily from her platform. I was happy to see her. Such a warm person! I turned to open my portfolio, and when I raised my head, she had taken off her robe, and stood naked in all her glory.
I was stunned.
It wasn’t because of some errant strain of Puritanism running through my blood (we Americans are too prickly about nudity). And, it wasn’t envy, though I find it unfair that I do not have a body like hers. No, it was the sheer suddenness of her transformation. She was there, and then she was exposed. For a second, my training kicked in, and I actually lowered my eyes to preserve her privacy. I quickly recovered (see above). This was art, after all! And, there she stood, then reclined, then sat, a forgiving muse to our tentative efforts.
But, that first shock came back to me later, reminding me of my own feelings of exposure. Those times when I feel challenged, or set upon, or discounted, or probed for all the wrong reasons. See, at my best, I stand naked, like our model, owning the exposure, and staring back into the eyes of all who seek entry. And, my nakedness is nothing more than a reason to expose my skin to the cool air, the warm sun, and all the other wild vagaries of life.
But, there are the other times when I just feel Naked. When someone touches a tender spot I thought concealed or a weakness I had forgotten. Then my hands rise to cover my breasts, my legs cross to shield my vagina, my lids lower to hood my eyes, and I reach for my robe.