So on New Year’s Eve I prepared myself for my first Naked Party.
This was all thanks to Jake. Jake runs the writing group I don’t attend as often as I should. I like Jake very much. He’s hyper and intelligent and, I gather, a compulsive recorder -- someone who has cross referenced lists for all sorts of things, like what t-shirt he was wearing when Conan made his late night debut, that kind of thing.
Actually, Living Somewhat Dangerously -- the lifestyle, the blog, the grab for fame -- sort of owes its inception to Jake. It all started back in March, when he first invited me to a Naked Party. I was at his apartment, just before a writing group meeting.
“Uh,” I’d said, when he brought it up. “Is that...?”
“It’s just what it sounds like,” Jake confirmed.
“And at this party,” I continued, “Everybody’s naked?” Fact checking, you know.
“Well,” said Jake, “We tried having it with bikinis or underwear optional, but that didn’t really work.”
I pictured this. “So.” I paused. “And at this party, does... stuff happen?”
“Stuff?” Jake grinned. “You mean, is it an orgy?”
That’s exactly what I’d meant: “Yeah.”
“Well, sometimes, but that’s really late, at six o’clock in the morning or something,” Jake said judiciously. “Mostly it’s just like a regular party. We might order pizza, and drink beer, and play Tetris on my computer. Just naked.”
"Well," I said. The thought of being naked in front of total strangers was bad enough, but I suck at Tetris.
But later, it occurred to me that this was an offer I was unlikely to receive again and should therefore reconsider. It had come on the heels of a disturbing night on the town with an ex-boyfriend, his then girlfriend, Jessie, and some mutual friends. I’d met up with them at a bar downtown, and when I got there they were passing around poppers in full view of the bar staff. Then I was asked if I knew where they could score some cocaine.
Naturally, I had no idea where they could buy drugs. The last time I’d smoked weed was during the second Clinton administration. Anyway, all this depravity -- cocaine and poppers and nakedness -- made me realize that my life, which had none of these things, was pretty lame.
This was just before my 33rd birthday, and I started thinking about my future. Soon enough, I was going to want to get married, take on a mortgage and worry about exposing my precious brats to carcinogens and high fructose corn syrup. So far, I hadn’t lived a particularly crazy life. And, if things kept going this way, I wasn’t going to. I’d never though I wanted to live a depraved life, but when it occurred to me that soon it wasn’t even going to be an option, I started to rethink my position.
Within a few weeks, I had posted an ad seeking casual sex on Craig’s List, and started to live somewhat dangerously. A few months later, I started this blog.
I hadn’t made it to that Naked Party, but had promised myself, and Jake, that I’d turn up at the next one. And here it was.
So, like I said, this New Year’s Eve Naked party was narratively appropriate.
So that afternoon I got dressed, paying careful attention to my skin, slathered with The Body Shop’s shimmering Cranberry Body Lotion. It was the first time I’d ever gotten ready for a party without too much concern for my clothes. A very peculiar sensation.
The plan was that I’d go to Jake’s, hang out for a bit (the party was going to be small) and then meet up with Daniel and go out to dinner. I bought two bottles of cava -- one cheap, to mix with orange juice at Jake’s and one a bit less cheap, for me and Daniel.
When I got to Jake’s place, he sloooowly opened the door, peeking his head around to smile at me. I walked in and he gave me a hug. Jake’s a huge flirt, and very affectionate. He was naked, but, you know, I didn’t want to stare, so I was just looking at his face, sort of like my eyes hadn’t gotten around to checking him out.
“Hey!” I said. So: Jake, naked! He had a good body, lean and fairly muscular... I didn’t want to appear crass by checking him out, though. I mean, what’s the etiquette here?
It was just the two of us. “The others are going to be here later,” he explained. I took off my coat. Then I sat on the edge of his bed and unzipped my leather boots. What the hell, I thought. Next I took off my top.
We kept talking, so I was distracted and not too freaked out by the fact that I was undressing in front someone I was not having sex with. How often do you do that?
So there I was, completely naked, with another completely naked person, and we weren’t fooling around. I was determined to be all blase. Jake was seated in front of his computer, so I sat next to him. He started showing me pictures. Naked pictures! Jake is, in case this isn’t perfectly clear, pretty active in what I gather is a substantial pervy naked NYC community.
Then he showed me this photo of Hannah, who is in our writing group. I sort of idolize Hannah. She’s smart and nice and gorgeous, with really lovely, delicate features (blond hair, blue eyes, eyebrows like butterfly wings, which I think is poetic and weird and may be something Diego Rivera said about Frida Kahlo… Hannah’s eyebrows are not at all thick and dark, they really are delicately arched and, in fact, butterfly-like), thin but curvy and... wait for it... at least a D cup, I’d guess. In addition to all these qualities, she is a great writer, the first (and so far, only) person I’ve asked for feedback on my novel, plus very mature and ... only 25! Jake and Hannah sort of date, only I gather they date lots of other people too... frankly, if I were Jake, I wouldn’t date anyone else, I’d just marry Hannah.
So he showed me this picture of Hannah. In it, she was naked, lying flat on her back. She was surrounded by naked torsos – I couldn’t see any faces -- and several dicks were just pushed up close to her mouth. She had this look of delight on her face, like she was about to burst out laughing. This must have been at a previous Naked Party. I think Jake had hesitated before showing it to me. But I was glad he had.
So there we were, coolly looking at naked pictures of his friends (all of whom had given him permission to flash their photos around to ogling strangers; Jake isn’t a creep or anything). And I wondered if I should just say, “Hey, want to fool around?” Of course I didn’t; I hadn’t the nerve. That’s the problem with sex with your friends. The possibilities for damaging outcomes are just so much greater than you get when propositioning strangers. I didn’t want Jake to reject me, or feel bad about about rejecting me. So instead we just looked at pictures of naked people and talked, and I drank my cheap methode champagnoise, mixed with Tropicana.
At last two of his friends arrived. They were a married couple, and, as Jake explained, party policy was for guests to undress the newcomers. I found this incredibly uncomfortable, undressing this strange, though very friendly, woman. I couldn’t really bring it off, though I helped her tug off her sweater. So soon the four of us were naked, and sitting around, eating potato chips.
We chatted amiably enough, and the couple seemed interesting and friendly, but I had to get ready to go meet Daniel for our night out. At this point, I’d drank most of the first bottle of champagne. So I climbed back into my clothes and said my goodbyes, and hurried outside to find a cab.
I got dressed for the night out at Marc’s. I wore my pink cocktail dress, which is very form-fitting and requires a foundation garment (read: girdle!) not to mention a strapless boned bustier which really digs into my ribs. It was much less comfortable than being naked. It’s hard to breathe in that thing, but I strapped myself into it in the interests of vanity.
By the time Daniel and I got to the restaurant I was starting to get a headache -- all that cheap cava. By the end of the meal, my head was killing me. I had gone from being mildly cheerful to hungover -- I had barely been drunk! My head hurt so bad. The plan had been for Daniel and I to return to the apartment, drink and fool around, which would hopefully lead to magnificent New Year’s sex, but as soon as we got back I stripped naked (the clothes were binding, after all) and dosed myself with three Tylenol and the prescription painkiller the ENT had given me for my TMJ. Then I lay on the bed, literally moaning in pain. My head hurt so bad, I don’t know when I’d had a worse headache. Ow, ow ow. Happy New Year’s.