There’s a kid who sometimes comes into the bookstore to chat while I work at the counter. I call him a kid, but he’s actually a young man, probably around 20. I learn a lot about younger people by listening to him. However, the other day, he floored me. “Do you want to see the brand new naked pics I took of myself?”
I looked up from the used book that I had been cleaning. “What did you just ask me?”
“‘Do you want to see the brand new naked pics I took of myself?” He said it without the slightest bit of shame.
Now, when someone asks if you want to see nude pictures of himself, it can be tricky. If you’re not interested romantically and/or sexually in the person, it’s wise to avoid seeming too enthusiastic to take a peek. On the other hand, you don’t want to seem like afraid you’ll turn to stone if you see snapshot of heir junk. I’ve found a short but sweet response always works best. “Tempting … but no.”
“‘That’s cool.” I returned to cleaning my book, although with a little more nervous energy. About thirty seconds later, he asked, “Can I see your naked pics on your phone?”
I set my book down and looked him in the eye. I didn’t know where to begin. “First, why would you assume that I have nude photos of myself on my iPhone?”
“‘Everybody I know does.”
“‘What? Why would you need nude pictures of yourself on your mobile phone?”
“‘You know, in case you meet someone you want to hook up with,” he said.
“‘I don’t hook up with people.”
“‘Maybe you haven’t yet,” he said. “But maybe one day you’ll meet someone that you’d like to hook up with, and you’ll think ‘Oh crap, I’d love to hook up, but I don’t have naked pics of myself to send!’”
“‘That’s about as likely to happen as Long Horn Steak House going vegan,” I said. “My second question is why would you to see nude pictures of me, anyway?”
The kid shrugged. “You know, just killing time. I thought maybe I’d compare yours to mine, you know, see how I stand up.”
Oh great, I thought. The only reason someone asks to see a nude picture of me is because they’re bored and have nothing better to do. Maybe that’s why my response may have sounded a bit harsh. “Take my word for it, I would tower above you.” I picked up my book, then set it down again. “Aren’t you the least bit concerned that these intimate photos of yourself might come back to haunt you later? Like if you decided to run for President? Or adopt a child? Or open a frozen yogurt franchise?”
’”Because by the time I’m old enough to do any of that, everybody will have naked pics all over the Internet, so who’s going to care?”
Taking this in consideration, the kid had a point. He offered to take a photo of me dropping trou in the children’s section, but I again replied with a polite “Tempting, but no.”
I got together with my friend Trixie for lunch a few days later. She had recently been dipping her toe back into relationship-infested waters via online dating.
’”Do you have any nude pictures of yourself on your mobile phone?” I asked.
“‘Anything that might be considered art in a museum, but indecent exposure in front a police officer,” I said.
“‘It’s possible,” she said. “Why do you want to know?”
I told her about my conversation with the kid. “Ever since my conservation with him, I’ve sort of wondered if I’ve fallen out of step with the times. You know, maybe I should have some naked images of myself on my iPhone.”
“‘Well, if you think it’s something that might make you feel better about yourself, I would encourage you to do it,” Trixie said. “I remember how nervous I was when I attended that women’s self-empowerment class at that bar and had to sing karaoke to my vagina.”
My eyebrows shot up to the top of my forehead. “What does one sing when one performs karaoke for one’s unmentionables?”
’”I chose the Bee Gees’ ‘How Deep Is Your Love’,” she said, “And my vagina really appreciated it. In fact, I think I felt it humming along.”
“‘In an odd way, I can understand why someone would sing to their genitals, but I know that I’m never going to e-mail or text dirty pictures of myself to anyone.”
“‘Who says you have to share them? And who says they have to be dirty? Why can’t you just take a nude photo of yourself for yourself?”
“‘Why would I want to do that?”
“‘Sometimes doing something that scares us empowers us,” she said.
“‘I’m not scared of taking a nude picture of myself, it’s just …”
“‘Just what?” she asked.
“‘It just seems so silly. I don’t even enjoy having a picture taken with all of my clothes on, let alone a shot of me on my back with my butt cheeks spread open for the camera.”
“‘Really?” Trixie leaned across the table with a huge grin on her face. “Is that what you were planning to do?”
“‘Of course not,” I said. “I was exaggerating, which just goes to show you that I don’t even know what’s involved with taking a naked pic of myself.”
“‘I highly recommend adequate lighting. And make sure there are no pets in the background, or else no one’s going to give you the time of day if they have to choose between staring at a kitten or your penis.”
“‘Well, I’m glad we’ve clarified that.”
“‘Mostly, the boys just raise their shirt up to show off the fact that they zero percent body fat and pull down their shorts just enough to show some penis cleavage,” Trixie said.
“‘Yeah, leave a little mystery.”
“‘Now, since guys your age–”
Trixie narrowed her eyes at me. “Guys–COUGH! COUGH!–age, usually don’t have zero percent body fat, so they normally just find a picture of some well-built naked guy on the Internet and pan it off as themselves.”
I carefully considered what Trixie had said. “So, let me get this straight: Passing off a naked picture of someone else on my iPhone is supposed to make me feel better about myself?”
“‘Hmm … yeah … that doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?” Trixie mulled this over. “Well, maybe you should take a picture of the part of your body that you feel best about, so that whenever you feel down, you can pull it up on your iPhone and be reminded of how hot you are.”
“‘Trixie, that’s a brilliant idea.”
A few days later, the kid came back in the bookstore, and I asked him if he wanted to see my naked picture. He seemed surprised, but expressed interest, so I pulled up the image on my iPhone.
“‘Hey, this is just a picture of your face,” he said.
“‘Yeah, I know, but I was naked when I took the picture,” I said. “I just decided to show what I considered to be my best side, and how I want people to remember me.”