I remember an incident that gave me an undeserved long-lasting reputation for incredible suavity at good old Granite High and a strong, if unneeded, nudge in the direction of becoming a nudist. At Granite, the boys' PE swim class was in the nude. Suits were strictly forbidden. You went up some stairs from the locker room to the shower room, took a shower, and then through another door to the pool. I usually took a second shower after swimming to get rid of the chlorine. This made me a little late, but since the class was just before lunch period and since I spent the lunch period playing chess with the Math club, it didn't matter.|
One day after taking my post-swim shower, I was coming down the steps from the shower room to the dressing room with my towel around my neck, when some boys outside in the halls thrust some girls into the locker room. I proceeded calmly, my towel still around my neck, to my locker, hung the towel on the locker door, and started to dress in my normal fashion. Soon after, most of the guys in the room came crowding up. "Gee, Despain," they said, "weren't you embarrassed with those girls in here? You didn't blink an eye!" "Why should I be embarrassed? I was doing the same thing I do every swim class, just getting back to my locker. I didn't do one thing different, so why should I feel any different about it?"
No one could answer that one. I'm not sure what the answer would be. If you're the victim of a voyeur, for example, what difference should it make to you? Can it even make a difference if you don't know about it? In any event, no blame or moral censure can be attached to you. Why should you be embarrassed when you've done nothing wrong? (Or is this rationalization? Or was I born without a sense of modesty? Or all of the above?) "Well, those girls sure must have been embarrassed," they said.
"Why?" I said. "They didn't do anything wrong. Would you be embarrassed if someone shoved you in the girls' dressing room? I wouldn't. I'd get out of there, but I wouldn't be embarrassed." "They're seeing a nude guy!" "Would seeing a nude girl make you embarrassed?" No one said a word. Such an admission at 17 would make you seem somehow unmanly in those days. In fact, we'd all have given a great deal to see a naked girl. In those days that view was not all that common, not even in pictures.
The truth is that while I was coming down the steps, I was playing a chess game over in my head and I really didn't see the girls (or much else other than the chess board in my mind's eye). But when I thought the whole thing over, it seemed evident to me that there was no shame attached to the incident on anyone's part and that, therefore, there was no shame inherent in nudity, even with the other sex--which was a step forward for me, since same-sex nudity was a daily occurrence.
I realized that if someone again pushed girls into the locker room and I was again coming down from the shower room, I wouldn't do a thing different, even if I did see them.