Monday, July 5, 2010

Put some clothes on, America!


I passed up an opportunity to frolic with the family at the local water park this weekend and it was all because of one stranger’s big toe.

The offender’s neighboring toes weren’t about to win any beauty contests. They looked like witch teeth.

But it was the big toe on his right foot that has me avoiding water parks the way “Jaws” had us all avoiding oceans.

The cracked, yellowish purple nail extended from the foot the way departure planks extend from pirate ships. It seemed to stab out in menace at unassuming passersby. I saw it nearly harpoon a pudgy toddler mesmerized by his fudgesickle

You’d think a toe that dangerous would be banned from water parks for fear it would rupture inflatable rafts by the hundreds.

I know nothing of podiatry, but even a layman could see this damaged toe needed amputating.

I’d recommend from just above the waist.

Yet the owner of this toe bounded about without shame or care that the toe was disgusting to refined gents like myself, if anyone who stands in line to slide down into a pool filled with the urine of 9 year olds can be considered refined.

Understand, I love human beings and I love being human, but our level of over-exposure is verging on toxic.

I recently spent two days at a wonderful midwestern water park and concluded the water park is man’s most delightful non-alcoholic diversion since the advent of the bicycle. On a hot day, it simply can’t be beat.

Yet, the recreation’s rise has coincided with a time when our wanton exhibitionism (reality TV, YouTube . . . self-absorbed blogging!) has never been higher while we as a race have never been been en masse more visually repellent.

First of all, we are well beyond what the art critics used to call Rubenesque. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions. I’m surprised the earth still manages to revolve in just 24 hours. It’s got to be working harder than ever.

If we keep supersizing at the rate we’re going, the earth is going to have a heart attack before even we do.

I remember 10 years ago doing a story about the disappearance of the great American freak show and hearing legendary side show impresario Ward Hall lament that side shows have disappeared because people can see freakish behavior -- extreme body art, piercings, etc. -- at any mall in America.

“Thirty years ago I had a 300-pound Howard Huge that people gawked at for his enormity,” he said, “now the guy selling kettle corn three stick joints down from me weighs 400 pounds.”

We’ve lost our collective modesty and think nothing of letting it all hang out.

Tattoos were something exotic when Ishmael encountered Queequeg in “Moby Dick.”

Now they are so ubiquitous I believe it’s time they be regulated -- not for sanitary reasons, but artistic ones.

Nobody should be allowed to tattoo anything until they’ve mastered drawing on paper the little smiling pony the mail order art schools used to require for entry.

The country is rife with quack doctors, shyster lawyers and hack journalists, but one weekend at the water park convinces me no occupation is as poorly staffed as the one relied upon to decorate our nation’s hillbillies, rednecks and urban posers with replica tattoos to ensure their individuality.

The time in my life when even very drunk women were eager to see any part of me without clothing are now in the rear view mirror. And it’s taking a bigger and bigger mirror to for me to view my rear.

But what I can see ain’t pretty. There are fatty deposits, moles, ragged old hockey scars and unsightly patches of hair that make my back look like it belongs to a mange-ravaged gorilla.

It’s not something you want to see in a Speedo.

Then again in these days when we’re all just three stick joints from a garishly tattooed Howard Huge, what is?

2 comments:

Horror with Heart said...

Chris, I started laughing at the line: "I'd recommend from just above the waist," and am still fighting the errant chuckle. Jack had to come see what was going on.

It is amazing out there, isn't it? I find many reasons to give into my hermit tendencies at times, but I always reemerge into the world. I just like people too much not to.

Maybe if I spent some time at a water park....

DB said...

Great article. I am at the beach with the family and just witnessed a lady climb from the pool next to my son with some puss filled rash on her legs. We are done with the bacteria pool. Back to the ocean where all we have to worry about is a few thousand tar balls.