Introduction to the story
Sean: Mom, I think there’s someone at the front door.
Jan: Well, I’m on the phone right now. Please go see who it is. Wait – do you have any clothes on?
Sean: No, of course I don’t.
Jan: Then grab something to cover up quick – wrap on a towel if you have to. Sorry to interrupt our conversation, Anna. My son just said there’s someone at the door.
Anna: Yes, I heard. Is Sean spending time naked now, too, just like his father?
Jan: Yes, I’m afraid so. Like father, like son, you know. I’m surprised he hasn’t started before now. When we go for lunch tomorrow I’ll fill you in on the details. It’s kind of complicated. Listen, let me call you back after I deal with whoever’s at the door.
Sean: It’s Mrs. Hansen, Mom. Says this is just a social call and she can come back later if you’re busy.
Jan: No, send her in here. I haven’t heard from her in awhile, and I’d be happy to talk with her. Oh, and where is your sister?
Sean: I don’t know, but she’s probably out in the pool to work out, as usual.
Sharlene Hansen: Hi, Jan. Sorry to barge in on you like this, but I’ve been harvesting some of my roses. The bushes are just going crazy with flowers this summer. Must be all the heat we’ve had. Anyhow, I wanted you to have some – I can’t possibly use them all.
Jan: Oh, thank you so much, Sharlene. Why don’t you come in and sit down for a bit. Can I offer you some iced tea?
Sharlene: Yes, that would be lovely. It is so darned hot outside.
Danielle: Hey, Mom, I just came in to make myself a little lunch… Oh, excuse me, Mrs. Hansen. I had no idea anyone else was here.
Jan: Danielle, please go put something on to cover up if you’re not going right back outside.
Danielle: Gosh, I’m so sorry, Mom, really.
Sharlene: Oh don’t apologize, Danielle. And don’t be so hard on the girl, Jan. I raised a family of three kids, you know. Seen ’em all naked many times, even when they were almost as old as Sean and Danielle. Come on in, Danielle, and please don’t bother putting anything on if you don’t feel like it. If your mom doesn’t want me to leave right away you might be interested in our conversation.
Jan: No, no, Sharlene, don’t feel you have to leave quickly. I was on the phone with my friend Anna. But she’ll understand if I don’t call back right away. And thanks so much for the roses – they’re beautiful! Was there something in particular you wanted to talk about?
Sharlene: Yes, but first I want to tell both of you kids that there’s no need whatsoever to wear any clothes at all while I’m around. You can take that towel off right now, Sean, if you want to. Might as well get as naked as your sister.
Jan: I guess I’d better explain about this nudity. It’s a long story, but, see, Dave has been interested in nudism for some time – at least a year. He finally told me about that a couple of months ago and said he’d like to experiment with going naked around the house.
Sharlene: I imagine that must have come as a bit of a surprise to you.
Jan: Yes, of course. You have to understand I don’t find nudity all that shocking or scandalous or anything like that. As far as I know I’ve never been acquainted with any nudists, but I wouldn’t lose respect for anyone if I learned they were into that. To each his or her own I believe. But naturally I was surprised to learn Dave was interested in nudism. He pointed me to information on the subject, and I have to admit there are some aspects of it that I can understand might be appealing. So I told Dave it was OK if he wanted to be naked at home, as long as nobody besides me – including our kids – were around.
Sharlene: But evidently conditions have relaxed a little since then.
Jan: Yes, obviously. What happened is that my mother was here for a short visit. I told her about Dave’s interest in nudism, and she told me something she’d never mentioned to me before – namely that nudity was not uncommon in her family when she was fairly young.
Sharlene: Were you mother and her family actually nudists?
Jan: No. As Mom’s siblings got older and had friends often visiting, nudity around their house gradually became less and less common. But she did emphasize that she couldn’t see how any harm had been done to herself or her siblings as a result of nudity in their family.
Sharlene: And so you gave Dave the OK to be naked even when Sean and Danielle were around.
Jan: Yes. But that meant we had to explain to the kids what was going on, so they’d understand why they’d probably be seeing their father naked quite a lot. So we had to explain “nudism” to them, why Dave was interested in it, and so on. Naturally they had lots of questions, but we let them read Dave’s nudist magazines, and Dave tried to answer the questions as best he could. He encouraged them to look for further information on the Internet.
Sharlene: So, did the kids get interested in being nudists too at that point?
Jan: Well, yes, but rather gradually. They quickly got used to seeing Dave naked, and didn’t seem perturbed about it. But they were slower to try it themselves. Sean took the lead by deciding he wouldn’t bother wearing a swimming suit to use our pool. However, what really broke the ice was when Danielle told us that one of the other girls on her swimming team, Shelley, was a nudist, like the rest of her family. So we met Shelley’s family the next time we were with Danielle at a swimming team practice. We had a nice conversation about things, and they invited us to visit their home after the practice. We did that and learned a lot about their family’s involvement with nudism. Shelley’s parents had gotten into it just after they were married, and they raised their kids in a home where nobody wore any clothes unless absolutely necessary.
Sean: And you know what was really cool?
Sharlene: No, what, Sean?
Sean: Shelley’s family had planned to go on a camping trip the following week – and they invited our whole family to join them! So we did, and I think we had the best time camping ever! We hiked and played in a little stream near the campsite, and I saw about a dozen birds I’d never seen before. Oh, and all of us except for Mom were naked most of the time.
Sharlene: That was your first experience being naked around people other than your family?
Sean: Yeah. It was easy for Dad, of course. But Danielle and I were sort of afraid, before the trip, that we might be tempted to go naked too. Fortunately, by the time we got to the campsite, Danielle and I felt a lot braver. In fact, we actually started looking forward to see what it felt like to enjoy camping naked.
Sharlene: That’s wonderful. I’d love to hear all about that trip.
Jan: I’m sure the kids would love to tell you, too. But perhaps you weren’t planning to spend the rest of the afternoon here.
Sharlene: Well, I do have a few other things I need to do this afternoon. However, I’m really curious to hear more about what’s been going on in your family as far as nudity is concerned – but only if you don’t mind talking about it. I certainly don’t mean to be too nosy and pry into anything that’s none of my business.
Jan: Don’t worry about that, Sharlene. I’ve given up thinking it would be possible to keep this stuff a secret for very long. I have the impression that you’re pretty open-minded about this subject.
Sharlene: Yeah, I guess so. Nudism’s certainly not anything Pete and I have even considered for ourselves, but I don’t think either of us could object to anyone else’s interest in it. I’m very curious to know how Sean and Danielle feel about all this. They both look quite comfortable without any clothes on. Are both of you often naked now?
Sean: Yeah, I am a lot of the time here at home, just like Dad. But I don’t go naked elsewhere, like at friends’ homes. I’m not quite comfortable enough to try that yet. It’s sort of an embarrassing thing to talk about. I’m not sure I could explain well enough about being naked that my friends and their parents would be OK with it.
Sharlene: How about you, Danielle?
Danielle: Well, so far during the day I’m mostly not naked except to use the pool. I almost always put some clothes on – at least a pair of shorts – when I’m done swimming and sunbathing. But I do sleep naked all the time now! As for other times, I haven’t really decided yet. I’m not as brave about it as Sean is. But I’m getting bolder.
Sharlene: How so?
Danielle: It wasn’t actually intentional. A few days ago I overslept a bit. I woke up when Mom sent Sean to tell me breakfast was ready. He’d already started being naked most of the time. So I figured, what the heck, I might as well stay naked to have breakfast, so that’s what I did. And it felt pretty good! You know, just doing something completely ordinary like eating breakfast, but doing that naked even without a particular reason such as when I’m in or around the pool.
Sharlene: So it just seemed normal pretty quickly?
Danielle: Yeah! That was the best part – nobody teased me or even commented on how I didn’t have any clothes on! I’d have felt much more self-conscious if they’d done that. It was like, hey, what’s the big deal about eating breakfast naked?
Sean: Of course we didn’t say anything. Dad had been doing that for a while, and I’d started being naked a lot too.
Danielle: So I decided to be brave and see how long I’d feel comfortable staying naked after breakfast. I didn’t put any clothes on at all that day! I mostly stopped even thinking about how I was stark naked. A few times I did think “Wow, here I am without any clothes on, and nobody seems to regard that as the least bit unusual.” I really understood how Dad enjoyed being naked so much.
Sharlene: Good for you, Danielle. You’ll find many times in life that you need to be brave to try something new, even if it’s something you want. There are always fears whenever you think about making significant changes in your life. You just have to consider those fears objectively, and then decide what’s best. Was this your first day being naked at home the whole time?
Danielle: Yeah. I’d been naked at certain times, like from before bedtime until after breakfast, and when I was around the pool. I was naked for a few days straight on that camping trip. But that was kind of a special occasion when it would have seemed uncooperative not to be naked, since there was no real excuse for wearing any clothes.
Sharlene: Not even any worries about sunburn or bug bites?
Danielle: Nope. I tan easily, as you can see, and seldom burn. Besides, we were camped in a shady area. And there didn’t seem to be mosquitoes or other unpleasant bugs around.
Sharlene: Good thinking, Danielle. That’s just the right way to deal with your fears. You already knew from being naked at home that nobody, at least in your family, would make you feel embarrassed about being naked. And you don’t seem at all embarrassed because I’m here. I bet your father is impressed that you’ve been pretty brave about going naked.
Danielle: Yep. He didn’t put any pressure on me, but I’ve done it anyhow. He’s also glad he isn’t the only one in the family now who goes naked.
Sharlene: Although I’d love to hear more about that camping trip, I really can’t stay much longer. Can I have a rain check on that.
Jan: Certainly. We all really enjoyed that trip – including me, although I didn’t get naked, since I haven’t worked through my concerns about nudity the way the others have.
Sharlene: I sympathize with you, Jan. If anyone suggested camping naked to me, I’d also need a lot more time to think about it. We all have our own unique situations and feelings, so one size don’t fit all. I do need to discuss something more before I need to leave, but first I just have to ask Danielle whether after staying naked the whole day the first time at home she felt really comfortable doing that.
Danielle: Actually, no, not quite. Most days since then I’ve stayed naked until after breakfast, then I usually put something on. I’ve generally stopped wearing a top at home now, but I usually have at least shorts on. However, unless there’s a particular reason to be naked, I’ve generally had something on until supper time. Then I get naked again for dinner, and stay like that the rest of the day. I don’t feel quite ready yet to be naked as much as Sean and Dad are.
Sharlene: How come?
Danielle: Well, it’s mostly because I have a number of friends, and I don’t know quite how to explain to them that nudity has become common at our house. Many days I either spend much of the day visiting a friend or friends, or have someone visiting me, so I get dressed normally for that. If I know there’ll be anyone else visiting here, I also dress normally. Mom has piano students here many days, you know.
Sharlene: What about Sean and your father when there are visitors?
Danielle: So far they’ve both been very cooperative about putting something on if they plan to be around. See, none of my friends know yet even that I go naked around the pool. So I haven’t had to try to figure out how they might react to nudity – either mine or someone else’s. I’m not very sure I could explain it too well.
Sharlene: You never have unexpected visitors?
Jan: No, so far there haven’t been any surprise visits. You’re actually the first to drop in unexpectedly and find anyone naked. But remember, it’s been about three weeks since my mother’s visit and nudity became much more common here.
Sharlene: So you haven’t had any surprise visits from friends yet while you were naked, Danielle?
Danielle: No, not yet. I know it’s bound to happen eventually, so I need to figure out what to tell anyone who comes unexpectedly. My goal is to be naked as much as Sean and Dad. For that I want to have a pretty good explanation. But until then it’s best if I’m not completely naked too much myself during the day.
Sharlene: That’s too bad, but I’m sure you’ll figure it out. Your mom always tells me that you’re really smart.
Danielle: I don’t know about that, but I’m just going to need more time to think about this nudity stuff. My friends might understand how Dad and Sean can handle it. But going naked just seems riskier for girls than boys.
Jan: Unfortunately, I can’t give Danielle much advice, since I don’t quite understand this “nudity stuff” myself.
Sharlene: For sure Danielle should take all the time she needs to think about it. Whatever decision she makes could have a big effect on her. But just to be clear, at my age I could hardly criticize anybody I know who enjoys being naked. As far as I’m concerned, go for it, if it’s what you want. But you’re OK with what your kids are doing, Jan?
Jan: Well, I still have some reservations, but I’m trying to be patient and see how this develops. It’s kind of an experiment for our whole family. What happens to any of us will affect the rest of us.
Sharlene: Being patient with others even if we don’t fully understand what’s driving them is pretty important.
Jan: I did get used pretty quickly to Dave’s nudity. If anything I’m a little surprised the kids – Danielle especially – have been as cautions about taking up full nudity as they have. Danielle has usually been more impulsive and more of a risk-taker than Sean. But we can go into that some other time. You said there was something you wanted to talk about?
Sharlene: Yes. I just have a little information for you. It’s no big deal. Nothing I’d be too concerned about. Probably it won’t even be news to you. But there are rumors going around the neighborhood, and I thought you ought to know.
Jan: I can guess what those rumors are about. After all, the evidence is standing right here in front of us. So, I suppose there are neighbors who’ve learned that we have at least one dedicated nudist in the family now, and perhaps more. I’ve been pretty sure the fact would leak out sooner or later.
Sharlene: Yes, you have the gist of it. But it doesn’t seem like anybody’s upset about it. People just find it, oh, “interesting”. More just curious rather than anything else. Perhaps they feel, like me, that everyone has a right to wear as much or as little as they want in their own home. At least, that’s the sense I have from most of those I’ve talked with. I think you don’t have much to worry about.
Jan: Who have you heard this “rumor” from?
Sharlene: Maybe half a dozen people. I’m not even sure who was first. You know, if anything you should be glad that many neighbors know about this, but don’t seem upset about it. And if they are, it’s really none of their business. I think you should feel it’s OK to discuss this with anyone you care to – or nobody if that’s what you want.
Jan: I don’t mind discussing this a little with you, since you seem to be interested and open-minded. But please keep anything I say to yourself. If the subject comes up with anyone else, tell them you’ve heard that I know about the rumors and I’m willing to talk about them if they come to me. Wait, I just heard someone pull in the garage – must be Dave. Don’t worry – he’ll have clothes on. Doesn’t drive around naked, at least not as far as I know.
Dave: Honey, I’m home. Oh… hello Sharlene. And, Danielle, isn’t this a first for you? Not having any clothes on while we have a visitor, I mean.
Danielle: I just came in from the pool a few minutes ago to get some lunch. You know I’ve usually been naked in the pool a little while now. I didn’t realize Mrs. Hansen was here, but she said I didn’t need to bother putting anything on.
Jan: Dave, it seems like the cat’s out of the bag now. Sharlene says a number of the neighbors she’s talked with have been spreading rumors about us… which apparently are roughly accurate.
Danielle: And Mrs. Hansen says not to worry, Dad. Evidently nobody thinks we’re doing anything bad.
Dave: They shouldn’t. Anyone should have the right to be naked in their own homes if they want to be.
Jan: Well, pull up a chair, then. We’ve been discussing this nudity stuff. Sharlene says she may have to leave soon. But perhaps she still has a few more questions. She’s promised that she won’t tell anyone else, and if anyone’s still curious they can come talk with us directly.
Sharlene: If my understanding is correct, Dave, you like to be naked most of the time now at home. So feel free to strip off if you want.
Sharlene: Sure. You don’t need to be embarrassed. Won’t bother me at all.
Dave: Well, maybe I’ll hold off for a bit, until I know more about these “rumors” that you say are spreading around.
Sharlene: Let me put your mind at ease then. The “rumor” is that you and perhaps others in you family enjoy being naked at home. But nobody I’ve talked with seems to be upset about that.
Dave: OK, that’s good. Normally I’d already have my clothes off. But I could tell there was someone else here, so I figured I’d better wait.
Sharlene: Jan and your kids have already given me a bit of the history about your interest in nudism and how things have unfolded here, so we don’t need to go over that again. Sean and Danielle have also said a little about their perspective on the topic. So right now – if Jan wants to talk about it and doesn’t think I’m being too nosy – I’m curious to know more about her own hesitance about experimenting with nudity.
Jan: I don’t mind your asking. No, I’m not experimenting with nudity yet myself. Being naked except in a few obvious circumstances just isn’t how I was raised. Although, as I’ve mentioned, my own mother says nudity was common in her family when she was growing up. But she hasn’t done anything like that for many years. Well, except for just a few times while she was here.
Danielle: Mom, I know it’s not polite to eat in front of other people who aren’t eating, but I’m starving. Would it be OK if I fix myself a sandwich?
Jan: Sure, it’s OK. Sharlene, can we offer you anything to eat?
Sharlene: Well, as usual I’m trying to watch my weight. But I haven’t had lunch yet. Danielle, what are you having? If it’s not too much trouble, I’d be happy with just a little of what you’re fixing.
Danielle: I’m just having a simple ham and cheese sandwich.
Sharlene: Oh, one my favorites. I’ll have one too. Mustard and mayo on it, please, if you can.
Danielle: One ham and cheese with mustard and mayo coming right up. Would you like fries with that… just kidding! Want anything yourself, Mom? Dad?
Jan: Nope, no thanks. I had a little leftover potato salad about half an hour ago.
Dave: I just had a sandwich at Subway on the way home, so I don’t need anything. But perhaps Sean would like something. Where is he, by the way?
Jan: Probably went back to his room to resume playing a computer game. He wrapped a towel around his waist when Sharlene came by, but he dropped it as soon as Sharlene said it was fine with her if he wanted to be naked.
Sharlene: Thanks for the sandwich, Danielle. Ummm – ciabatta bread, one of my favorites. Now, where were we? Oh, yes, Jan was starting to talk about how she’s still a hold-out as far as nudism is concerned. I imagine, Jan, that if you’re not yet a nudist yourself – and maybe have no intention of being one – all of this nudity may be somewhat embarrassing for you.
Jan: Yes, perhaps just a little. But I’m getting used to it. I imagine I’ll get over the slight embarrassment, though, whether or not I decide to give up wearing clothes at times, like the others.
Sharlene: You said your own mother was raised in a family where nudity was fairly common when she was young. However, she didn’t become a nudist, so I presume that nudity wasn’t very common in your family while you were growing up.
Jan: That’s correct. Nudity was hardly even discussed seriously. My mother never even told me until she was here so recently how things were in her family. I knew there were such people as “nudists” who like being naked just because it feels good to them – but assumed they must be very unusual.
Sharlene: Did you think that being a nudist was “bad” somehow?
Jan: Honestly, I probably never really thought about it. Although nudity was seldom discussed, it was obvious that my father strongly disapproved of it. From time to time he’d say pretty negative things about clothes that were “too skimpy”, let alone full nudity. Things like how often prominent movie stars and other celebrities – females in particular – tended to wear very revealing clothes, how awful it was that many movies were increasingly showing explicit nudity, how scandalous it seemed to him that there were a few public beaches, especially on the coasts, that were “clothing-optional”. And stuff like that.
Sharlene: So of course he also had nothing good to say about young girls and women who were scantily clad.
Jan: Right. When I and the other girls in my family were teens, there was definitely a dress code. We couldn’t even think of wearing dresses or shorts that were “too short”. Or skimpy tank tops. Or bare midriffs. Or prom dresses that showed “too much” cleavage. You get the idea. I assume he picked up these fairly prudish attitudes from his own family. But since this wasn’t a topic about which his opinions could be questioned, I never learned exactly how he justified them.
Sharlene: I’d guess that your mother never discussed these issues with him, in spite of the way she’d been raised herself.
Jan: Correct. She was quite well aware of my father’s opinions, and she told me while she was here that she didn’t feel it was worth the hassle of telling him about her own upbringing. In any case I suppose that my own hesitance about open nudity is an ingrained effect of knowing my father’s opinions. Now, of course, I can see that they were rather extreme. So although the idea of being naked like Dave and our kids seem to be enjoying still makes me uncomfortable, I have to respect what they feel is right for them.
Sharlene: Well, it’s been many years since I had a few psychology classes in college. But from those and all my experience since then as a parent and knowing other parents I’m well aware of how much influence a parent’s attitudes can have on their children, for better or worse. Sometime kids will rebel against those attitudes when they’re teens, but just as often they’ll find other ways to rebel. I suppose it depends a lot on the kinds of friends they have as teens. At all events, even if they rebel, they’re often left with some residue of guilt that they’d rejected their parents’ attitudes. And they often don’t quite understand the sources of their own feelings as adults.
Jan: That seems to be true of my own mother. Although she never felt she could oppose her husband’s attitudes on nudity, it was quite clear when she was here – without my father, who she’s still living with – that she feels no disapproval of “sensible” nudity. In fact, once she’d explained to us how nudity wasn’t unusual in her childhood family, she encouraged all of us to enjoy being naked if that seemed good to us. She congratulated Dave for being honest with the rest of us about his interest in nudity. So that, together with Dave’s own example, has allowed Sean and Danielle to become increasingly comfortable being naked themselves. And she happily joined with them in using our own pool naked.
Sharlene: Thank you so much, Jan, for being so open with me about sharing all of your “family secrets” on this. I think you’re doing the right thing by giving yourself plenty of time to figure out how you really feel about this “nudity stuff”. I’d love to continue this discussion the rest of the day. However, unfortunately, I do have other business to attend to this afternoon, so I’ve got to cut this short. I was really hoping to hear much more about this camping trip you had with the family of Danielle’s friend Shelley. But we’ll just have to save that for another time – very soon, I hope.
Jan: I feel very good about this discussion we’ve had, since I haven’t been able to share this information with anyone else in the neighborhood. But you’ve made me fell that it’s OK to discuss it – with the right people.
Sharlene: I’m glad if I’ve been of any help. I like to feel I can be a “sounding board” for anyone who wants to “get something off the chest”, so to speak. I’ll look forward to anything else you all would care to share with me about this nudity stuff. Perhaps you’d like to have dinner with Pete and me sometime soon. May I tell him what you’ve been telling me?
Jan: That would be OK, but please don’t tell anyone else unless and until I let you know otherwise. Be sure Pete understands that too. And we’ll be glad to have dinner with you anytime you suggest.
Sharlene: Yes, absolutely. Will do. For now it’s just between us and your family. And when you come for dinner, any of you may be as naked as you want. I’m sure Pete won’t mind.
To be continued.