My friend Vulf was invited for Thanksgiving to the home of a couple of gay guys near Davis, California. He brought me along.
It was a medium-sized “architectural” house bustling with guests. I vaguely remember most of them were women. In one room, people were setting up to look at slides. In my usual handyman way, I was helping out. I stood in front of the screen while somebody focused the projector. The women were sitting around on couches, like the audience. They gave advice. Move it this way. Move it that way. I did what they said.
The rest of the holiday was pleasant, but not particularly memorable. Memory hangs on the things that were different. The color of those peculiar things called guest towels. The ham and mashed potatoes.
Over the next few months, I ran into those gay guys a couple more times. They were always a little standoffish. I figured that’s just the way they were. It wasn’t till a couple years later that Vulf finally told me why. The terrible thing I’d done!
I had to rack my brain to remember the incident. From my reality, it was nothing that would have stood out.
Before Thanksgiving dinner, one of the hosts had come into the projection room. He was struck speechless, I suppose, because he never said anything to me.
He saw me standing in front of all the women, completely naked.
We had been setting up the screen. The women gave advice. Move it this way. Maybe a little more like that. Then one voice, “Why don’t you take off your clothes? We can show the slides on you?”
I’d been feeling a little out of place, but this put me at ease. So. This crowd was comfortable with casual nudity. Good folks!
I had worked as an artist model for figure drawing classes. It was all in a day’s work. I took off my clothes. I hit a few angular poses. I put my clothes back on. I wasn’t getting paid, after all. I wasn’t going to do this all day.
All this had been so ordinary, I had a hard time to remember it.
Why would women say something like that if they didn’t want me to? I’d come from a summer’s hard work in the forest. I must have been all fur and farmer’s tan. The only thing I’d been thinking about was how long till the food.
It must have been right then the host came in. Maybe saying the food was ready. Were they in agony all through dinner? Waiting for me to apologize, or at least say something? Wondering what else outrageous I might do?
A lot of times I come away from social situations thinking I must have offended people. Later, I find out things were fine. But every now and then, I offend people big time. And don’t have a clue!