Friday, August 10, 2012

Randy Travis & the perils of driving while naked

News that Randy Travis was arrested for driving drunk and naked had one reporter wondering if “he’s hit bottom,” an interesting turn of phrase about a man ready for a good spanking.

It had me thinking, man, there’s something I’ve never done.

And I’m talking about the driving naked bit.

In fact, there’s more. It turns out the country singer -- and I’m a big fan -- tried to buy cigarettes naked.

That’s something else I never dreamed of doing. Don’t you need pockets for that sort of thing?

At the minimum, he’d be holding keys, a wallet, a lighter and probably a smart phone. Even people like me who often consider pants a nuisance have to admit pockets add a certain utility to daily life.

I have some great memories of being naked in a car, but none of them involve driving solo to fetch groceries.

Or I should say “nekkid,” the difference being, according to the late great Southern humorist Lewis Grizzard, that “naked is being without clothes; nekked is being without clothes and up to something.”

The best of it was in high school some 30 years ago. Me and my friends were avid skinny dippers.

We weren’t the most popular kids, but we always managed to find a few young pretty girls reckless enough about their reputations to want to hop a fence with us and sneak into someone’s backyard pool for a little illicit fun.

Some of the happiest times of my life involve being a proud father. Some of the others involve trespassing naked in the backyards of vacationing strangers.

Cruel age can steal my wits, my mobility and all my earthly possessions, but I hope it never robs me of my memories of what happened during those adolescent romps. I’ll be a happy old man, a happy, dirty old man.

So as you can surmise I bring a sympathetic point of view to Travis’s escapades.

But I’m having trouble understanding what kind of fun you’d have driving around Texas nude and looking for smokes.

I try to put myself in his shoes. Understand a strict constructionist would say for him to be truly naked, he wouldn’t even be wearing shoes.

Not me. I think sensible footwear is a necessary part of doing many fun things in the nude, other than the obvious ones that are done nude and mostly horizontal.

I can see myself walking into a Texas mini-mart nude, maybe on a dare, but I can’t see myself walking fully-clothed but barefoot across the gum and butt-studded parking lot of one. I have sensitive feet.

Then there’s this: Travis threatened the arresting officers saying he would “shoot to kill.”

Was he packin’?

Again, a pocket would have probably enhanced the threat. Either he was wearing an unreported holster or else he was using his finger gun, which would make it one of the world’s most entertaining dash-cam videos ever.

Anyone remember my stories last summer about National Nude Recreation Week?

I learned a lot about nudie fun and much of it stayed with me. For instance: a game of 8 Ball played between two naked men is still called 8 Ball.

I also learned that nudists like to say they’re most comfortable in their own skin.

So, given my personal and professional experience, I know a thing or two about public nudity.

None of R.T.’s episode strikes me as recreational fun.

As I said, I’m a big fan. He was king of Nashville in the late 1980s when I was a young reporter there.

He raised eyebrows in 1991 when at 32 he married his manager, Lib Hatcher, a woman who was 16 years his senior. The pair divorced in 2010.

The speculation may be rash of me, but I believe Travis might be what I call a “slomosexual,” a person who devotes his or her life to the self-proclaimed virtues of public heterosexuality before finally coming to grips with their true sexual identity.

I suspect Travis’s troubles stem from a fear his mostly conservative fans will turn on him if he’s honest about what’s bothering him.

I suggest he seek advice from Elton John, another popular entertainer who in the mid-1980s participated in a sham marriage that lasted just a bit longer than “Benny and The Jets.”

It saddens me when someone like Travis, who’s made so many people, can’t find happiness himself.

Let’s hope with this he has hit bottom, so to speak.

And that a man who’s now enduring ridicule for being naked will find a way to finally be comfortable in his own skin.

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