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Notes on Nudism, in Verse, and We Answer a Baseball Question

Filed under: Letters & Challenges   Tagged: , , , ,

In my inbox today, this note from my old friend Sandy McCroskey, who can’t resist shedding his garments when the sun is out (and who can blame him?). I’d pointed out the skin-baring angle in that daughter-marrying hoax, to wit, that hoaxster “[John] Ordover is a science-fiction editor with a prankish history and an interest in urban nudism.”
Yeah, but as noted here, the average age of nudists is, alas, increasing.

Also, I don’t see how some of the people out on the nude beach can let themselves go so badly. (I’m not talking about a little plumpness or inevitable signs of age.)

We just had a book grab, and I was delighted to find uncorrected proofs of the new collection by your former teacher the late lamented Kenneth Koch, On the Edge: Collected Long Poems—because I knew that inside I would find “Ko, or A Season on Earth,” which contains a passage that I’ve always remembered very vividly but have never been able to find online. It begins:

Meanwhile in Kansas there was taking place
A great upheaval. High school girls refused
To wear their clothes to school, and every place
In Kansas male observers were amused
To see the naked girls, who, lacking grace,
Were young, with bodies time had not abused,
And therefore made the wheatfields fresher areas
And streets and barns as well. No matter where he is

A man is cheered to see a naked girl—
Milking a cow, or standing in a streetcar,
Opening a filing cabinet, brushing a curl
Back from her eyes while driving in a neat car
Through Wichita in the summer—like the pearl
Inside the oyster, she makes it a complete car.
We get a diversity of letters at letters@emdashes.com, and here’s another recent one:
For years I’ve seen Ebbetts/Ebbets Field referred to, but there seems to be no agreement on how to spell it. With one “t” or two?

Can you help?
We aim to please. I asked meat aficionado and sports-uniform maven Paul Lukas to guest-edit this reply. Here’s what he says:
Ebbets Field was named after Brooklyn Dodgers owner Charles Ebbets—two bees, one tee.
And there you have it. No question too big or small, folks!


How very superficial to not appreciate nude bodies that have been allowed to let go. Someone who walks around nude is saying (or singing), “All of me! Why not take all of me!” Take it all. Lumpy, droopy, whatever, it’s all fine with me when it’s naked. Naked is very interesting, and renders everyone equally funnylooking and ungainly, if you ask me.

I expressly tried to forestall the (inevitable) misinterpretation that I wish more people at the beach looked like body-builders or models. “Been allowed to let go” says it all. There’s no disputing that when people are walking around nude you can often tell how health-conscious they are. I also don’t agree that “naked” necessarily equals “funnylooking.” (That would make for a dreary world…) People who have a little “extra” weight often look better nude than when clothes are cutting into the natural contours of their bodies.

Sandy McCroskeySeptember 25, 2007

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