There’s something a tad askew when somebody writes to Dear Abby with a tale like this:
Is it normal for a 16-year-old boy to walk around the house naked, in plain view of family members? No one seems to notice or care. There are no looks or comments.
In the morning he gets up around 6:45. He walks into the kitchen and fixes a bowl of cereal. Then he stands at the counter, watching the morning sports shows while eating his breakfast in the nude. There is absolutely no evidence of arousal of any kind. When the bathroom becomes available, he goes in for a shower.
I have never seen any of the other family members naked. This boy has no compunctions about being seen by his father, mother, sister or next-door neighbor. He’s been nude in my presence dozens of times. I know it’s common for little boys to run around without clothes on sometimes, but, Abby, he’s not a little boy anymore. CLOTHES-MINDED IN WISCONSIN
Sounds like something’s missing from the narrative, right? Right:
Lessee … I’m a sixteen year old boy who walks around the house naked. It’s 6:45 and I’m lumbering around my parents’ kitchen with my dongle dangling, pouring myself some cereal. Now, the bathroom is not yet available so I’m waiting around … in my birthday suit … neighbor watching me, somehow, the entire time. Actively? Passively? “There is absolutely no evidence of arousal of any kind.” That’s just disturbing. I can just see her removing her eye from a powerful telescope and turning to a camera, a la Marvin the Martian, and commenting “No evidence of arousal of any kind” and then plastering her face right back on the telescope again, twiddling the focus dial for a sharper view, licking her lips maybe.
You have to wonder how she defines “in her presence”: although she says that she and the lad’s family are “good friends” elsewhere in her letter, at no point does she mention any actual encounter other than watching him from a distance. Abby herself confounds the issue:
[Y]ou should hang curtains on your windows that face the Smiths’ kitchen and before dropping over there, call to ask whether he’s presentable. If he’s not, then don’t go over.
I have to admit, my sympathies are with the kid, if only because (1) this is a fairly typical wardrobe for me and (2) I was coming up on sixteen when it occurred to me that pajamas were superfluous at best. (I am still so persuaded, despite the fact that it got down to about 20 degrees call it -7 Celsius last night.) I do a better job of keeping the shades in position, though.