June 19, 2007
Notes from the Naked Blogger
I have a confession to make.
I had my laptop with me all last week. And I was staying on a wired campus. I could have blogged, but I didn't. I allowed myself to be distracted by three-dimensional people.
Of course, bloggers themselves were half the problem. One of my roommates was an evil historian who uses the pseudonym Rana. I've been reading her blog since before I had one myself, and I've had countless silly conversations with her over at Pilgrim's virtual bar. In real life, she looks just like her gravatar and acts just as I expected. She was funny and spontaneous ("Hey, everyone look in this store window and let's vote on which is the ugliest pair of shoes"), she knew how to engage in deep, analytical discussions about plenary speakers or panels, and she was a sympathetic listener who followed my ramblings with perceptive remarks. Her mannerisms were even exactly what I expected: I got to see her do her "happy dance."
High Energy Writer was another serious distraction. When she met me, she said, "Are you jo(e)? Wait! Turn around so I can see the back of your head and picture you naked." I'd never met her before, but she turned out to be a gorgeous woman who carries the world in her purse and who comes up with hilarious observations about the world around her. She tried, to give her credit, to get me back on track. "What are you doing just sitting here and talking?" she would ask at breakfast. "Shouldn't you be out getting naked photos for your blog? You are falling down on the job!" But then she'd launch into a funny story that involved sex toys and airport security. I can't leave to go to my computer when someone is telling a story about the strange things a security guard did with her umbrella.
South Rockies Blogger, who not surprisingly had all kinds of interesting stories to tell, joined us for several meals, and I have to say that it was wonderful to hang out with a group of bloggers. "It's so nice to be able to talk about blogging without people thinking I'm crazy," I said at the end of one lunch.
"Oh, we think you are crazy, " said High Energy Writer, "but it's got nothing to do with the blog."
I kept thinking that bloggers need a secret signal at these kind of conferences. Perhaps we could open our laptops and draw a fish on the screen. At a party one night, Philadelphia Guy, who knows I blog, introduced me to Cute Australian Blogger Who Takes Fantastic Photographs. (I suspect he would appreciate his pseudonym a whole lot more if it weren't coined by someone old enough to be his mother.) And Dandelion Diva came to our session on blogging, where we bloggers outed ourselves to all kinds of non-bloggers. At that session, when High Energy Writer was happily pulled up our blogs on the screen to show to the crowd, it did occur to me that having a post up with a naked photo of myself on the day I outed myself to some of my academic colleagues was perhaps poor timing.
But I blame my blogging friends for giving me the undeserved reputation of the naked blogger. (Or the nekkid blogger, as my southern conference friends would say. Why is that everything sounds better in a southern acccent?) Their chatter caused the strangest phenomenon. All week, women kept coming up to me and volunteering to pose naked for the blog. I'd be standing in line in the dining hall, and a woman with a Friendly Green nametag would come up to me and say, "When's the nude photo shoot? I'm ready."
But our ambitions were too high. "Hey, Mississippi Poet is staying in a B&B with a huge bathtub. We could put a dozen nekkid women in there." Or "How about all of us naked in rocking chairs on the porch?" Bloggers and Non-bloggers alike kept volunteering to pose, but we never did find the right combination of camera, natural light, and naked women. You know, it's harder than you think to get a bunch of naked women together in one place when there's this whole academic conference going on.
Interestingly enough, no man volunteered to pose naked. Artist Friend said, "I'm certainly willing to take the photo," but when we said that the photographer had to be naked, he gave us a look of horror. Philadelphia Guy said he needs tenure first. Other men smiled and said nothing, and then quickly started talking about sports or books.
Rana, High Energy Writer, and I had scaled down our plans and were going to settle for a naked threesome — three naked women in a hammock. We were discussing possible angles when Philadelphia Guy appeared and offered to take the shot.
It is harder than you think to remove clothes when you are in a hammock full of wriggling women. Rana was so triumphant at getting her socks off that she threw them nearly twenty feet into the air. Philadelphia Guy, who really had no clue what we were trying to achieve, began taking photos as soon as he saw the first bit of bare flesh. I think he was a bit disconcerted by the raucous encouragement, "Come on, Philadelphia Guy. Work it, baby!" He took a few shots with my camera, then switched to the other cameras we'd hung about his neck. We chided him for going too slow and missing some key action shots.
"I am not a photographer," he protested.
"We're going to change your pseudonym to Slow Hand," one woman called out.
The discussion of his new pseudonym led to such hilarity that he began snapping away like crazy. I cannot tell you what happened next, as I must protect the bloggers involved in the photo shoot. Really, it was nothing bloggable. Nothing any of my readers would be interested in. The session ended with three women, fully clothed, rocking sedately on the porch of our campus apartment, discussing books and politics.
Posted by jo(e)