The Naked Guy at the Party; or, Naked Aggression; or, Don’t Be a Dick

  • 11/06/2013
  • Greggory Moore

By Greggory Moore

A few years ago there was this great party in one of the communal, hippie-ish houses here in Long Beach. A rotation of DJs held it down behind a pair of turntables in the dining room, while an appreciative press of bodies churned in time, free and easy, 21st-century-hippie style.

The house was north of 7th Street, a little bit in the ‘hood. (In a matter of seconds Long Beach goes from “definitely not the ‘hood” to “um….”) Sometime around midnight numerous newcomers arrived, young men apparently not acquainted with any of the ten residents. They made their way to the dining room-cum-dance floor and appreciatively took in the vibrant scene. They were in no way obtrusive, so no-one paid them any mind. We just kept dancing.

Soon the newcomers were working their way into the crowd. I’m not sure I would have noticed, were it not for their over-the-top politeness. Because the room was so close with bodies, it was impossible to cross the room without making contact with dancers. No-one was fazed by the contact, but it seemed the newcomers came from a subculture in which this kind of thing often does not go by unnoticed. So, whenever any of the young men bumped into someone even slightly, they could not have been more apologetic. “Sorry, bro,” one of them said, hands up to emphasize how truly sorry he was, even though he’d done little more than brush against me. These guys may have been party-crashers, but no-one minded, because their behavior was completely respectful toward those around them.

At a comparable house party in a comparable neighborhood the other night, I was privy to very different behavior. I was in the living room when the ruckus in the kitchen caught my attention. I leaned in to see what it was about, and there, among numerous other partygoers, was a fully naked young man, loudly making a spectacle of himself, much to the clear discomfort of some.

There are various types of aggression. First there’s your flat-out physical violence. Then there’s verbal aggression, which ranges from threats of physical violence to abusive talk, then on down to argumentative yelling. The naked guy—let’s call him “Dick”—was engaging in a different sort, waving an implicit banner that says, “I don’t give a fuck about anyone around me.” Dick was in a jolly mood, joking and laughing and waving his eponymous member this way and that. He didn’t care that some people were annoyed; he didn’t care about the women trickling by on their way out of the house, no longer wanting to be at a party with someone with so little respect for others.

Me, I thought he was being a douche, but he was in the other room, and it wasn’t my party, and if the hosts didn’t feel the need to do anything about it, I didn’t especially care.

But before long I found that a couple of the hosts did object to Dick’s behavior. But like a lot of us, these fine folks were not comfortable with any sort of confrontation. They didn’t want to have to confront tell this lout to put on his clothes or get out. But that’s what they wanted, so I made myself useful.

“Hey, dude,” I said, gently tapping his naked shoulder, “a couple of the hosts would like you to put on your clothes if you’re going to stay.” I had caught Dick in the middle of a conversation with a woman trying to reason with drunken Dick about this very topic (not about the hosts’ wishes, but about generally being respectful of others), and he pretty much ignored me. “Dude,” I said, tapping him again, “some of the people who live here want you to put on your clothes or go.”

Finally he turned to me. “I’m letting [the woman] finish,” he said. “You can put on your clothes while you’re talking to her,” I answered. “I’m finished,” she said. But Dick was reluctant to give ground. “I live right down the street,” he said. “That’s fine,” I said (without seeing his point), “but this isn’t your home. The people who actually live here would like you to put on your clothes or go, so you should respect their wishes, you know?”

The look on his face made it clear he didn’t know, but finally he started to make his way to the backyard (where he had left his clothes), though not without offering a parting shot at me: “Why do you have to be such a dick?”

Sticks and stones, Dick. I don’t mind. And a pot calling the kettle is a dog-bites-man story. But Dick’s impressive display of poseur hypocrisy is worth a thought.

Let’s give Dick’s argument some verbal polish and say societal hang-ups about nudity are provincial, even prudish, and that it’s important to be free, to chart your own course, follow your own star. Who was ever harmed by nudity, after all?

Despite being far more conventional when it comes to my own nudity, fundamentally I can go along with Dick here. You may never catch me on a nude beach, but I don’t see anything wrong with them. I’m not quite sure there should be laws prohibiting public nudity anywhere. Twenty years ago, when “the Naked Guy” was getting arrested for strolling around Berkeley in the buff, I pretty much thought the cops should leave him alone.

But Dick was in a private home, the home of people who had invited their friends to a party that was not clothing-optional. And even if Dick neither knew nor cared that some of his fellow guests were uncomfortable (though he did know, at least by the time he was in kitchen conversation with the woman), once he was made aware of how his hosts felt, that should have been that—without debate, without delay.

It took some cajoling, but Dick did relent, though not before revealing himself as a poseur. Why poseur? By all accounts Dick considers himself something of a hippie. But Dick isn’t a true hippie; he’s the kind of guy who gives hippies a bad name.

Some of the loveliest people I know are hippies. They know it’s not all about smoking pot and burning incense and not being tied up in pop culture and consumerism. They tend to the Earth and to their community. They evince genuine compassion toward all living things. And they would cringe at even the idea of disrespecting others in such Dickish way.

Maybe Dick is a lovely guy. But based on this night, he’s a hairdo, an empty kaftan, a boor in Summer of Love’s clothing. Dick didn’t know that it’s not the clothes—on or off—that make the man, any more than waving your genitalia around in public makes you free.

Whatever your walk of life, brothers and sisters, be mindful of those coming the other way, especially when you’re in their space. In other words: Don’t be a Dick.

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Greggory Moore

Trapped within the ironic predicament of wanting to know everything (more or less) while believing it may not be possible really to know anything at all. Greggory Moore is nonetheless dedicated to a life of study, be it of books, people, nature, or that slippery phenomenon we call the self. And from time to time he feels impelled to write a little something. He lives in a historic landmark downtown and holds down a variety of word-related jobs. His work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the OC Weekly, The District Weekly, the Long Beach Post, Daily Kos, and His first novel, THE USE OF REGRET, was published in 2011, and he is deep at work on the next. For more:

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