October 15, 2008

Those naked women

I meant to return from my weekend with a photo of naked women on top of a mountain.

The conditions were right. The weather was unseasonably warm. I was hiking with close female friends. By the time we reached the summit of the mountain, we were warmed-up and sweaty, ready to take off our clothes. The rock ledge we were standing on was in the shade, but the mountains in the distance were in full sun and I figured we could take a classic silhouette photo.

When I casually mentioned my idea, my friends looked at each other and then turned on me. "You have to pose too," said Quilt Artist.

I shrugged, handed my camera off to the nearest person, and started taking off my clothes. "Who's going to join me?"

Dark Curly Hair, who was now holding my camera, looked a bit alarmed. That's when I remembered that she hadn't come on our retreat last year. It's possible she wasn't quite prepared for the naked photo tradition. But she quickly grasped the key point — that taking the photo meant she could keep her clothes on. "Tell me which button to push."

Within seconds, I had left my clothes in a pile and was perched on a rock outcropping, with the lovely view in front of me. Gorgeous Eyes and Quilt Artist stripped off their clothes and joined me. "Face this way, " I instructed. "I don't show faces on my blog."

Denim Woman and Makes Bread yelled instructions from the rock where they were sitting.

"Do a yoga pose!"
"Put your arms around each other!"
"Act like you're looking at the view!"
"Why does Gorgeous Eyes have a hat on?"

We danced about on the ledge, the three of us in a row, shivering as the wind rose. It was late in the afternoon, and the sun had mostly moved past this ledge. Dark Curly Hair snapped a few shots, and we ran back to pull on our clothes. It wasn't until I was fully dressed and we were hiking back down the trail that I looked at the viewfinder of my camera to see the photos.

And here is what I saw: on the rock ledge, my two friends stood posed, their bodies dark, classic silhouettes against the foliage and sky. And the third figure, too, was posed against the mountains, my body another silhouette. Except for one thing.

You know how in corny movies, a single shaft of sun will come down from the sky — a prophetic streak of light pointing to the secret cave, the lost treasure, or the spot X on a map? I've never thought that that kind of thing happened in real life. But apparently, it does.

In this case the single shaft of light was directed right at my butt. Yes. My butt. Even in the little viewfinder, my rear end shone so white it seemed to glow, while the rest of my body was in dark silhouette. Yes, it's true that my butt is white compared to my tanned arms and legs, but this was ridiculous. When I showed my friends the camera, they laughed so hard we could barely make it down the trail. "Karma!" they kept yelling.

"You didn't notice that?" I asked Dark Curly Hair incredulously.

"It looked different in the viewfinder," she said. "And I followed your instructions EXACTLY."

At dinner that night, I put the photos on my laptop so we could all look at them, and each glimpse caused a fresh round of laughter. I haven't heard so many butt jokes since about first grade. "My cheeks are a bit sunburned," Gorgeous Eyes said, patting her face. "How about yours?"

The photo was ridiculous. It was hilarious. And there was no fucking way I was going to put it on my blog. When I could get my friends to stop laughing, I explained my dilemma, which I intended to make their dilemma. I needed ANOTHER NAKED PHOTO. I was not going to follow my friends' suggestion that I simply go with the title "Nice ass" and see how many hits I could get.

My friends know, collectively, very little about blogging — only a few of them have even seen my blog — but they understand the importance of tradition. And mostly, they wanted to please me. It's even possible they felt guilty about making me the butt of so many jokes. Besides, we had a reputation to uphold. We wanted to be known as the Wild Women, not the Mild Women.

So they set about granting my wishes, taking a naked photo in front of the fire. Two friends fiddled with the lighting: moving candles into the picture, moving a lamp onto the floor. And three obligingly stripped off their clothes. "Is this good enough? Want the panties off too?"

The resulting picture — a lovely old fireplace with women lounging at the hearth — looked like a Christmas photo. Well, except for two things. There are no stockings hanging at the hearth. And the women in the photo are naked.

"So how truthful are these photos?" a blog reader asked me in an email once. "Do you women really get naked all the time when men aren't around?"

I can't answer that question. Perhaps we really do lounge around the fire naked. Maybe we do, and maybe we don't. I'll never tell. What we do in the mountains stays in the mountains.

But even a completely staged photo is truthful in the way it expresses the intimacy within this group of friends. We aren't afraid to get naked with each other. We talk about our faults, our obsessions, our childhood demons. We share with each other our spiritual journeys, our struggles to be better people. These women are friends who aren't afraid to tell me what I don't want to hear. Even when it's jokes about how white my butt is.

Naked in the firelight

43 comments:

Anonymous said...

This photo is lovely, but I think you should post the original one.

YourFireAnt said...

This is a funny story well told and a lovely photo, but I too wish to see the white butt shot.

;-)

Fa

DaniGirl said...

Oh jo(e), I do love you so! (Hey look, I'm a poet too!) I started laughing out loud half way through the post and was in tears of laughter by the end! I think I just woke up the baby, too, but it was so worth it. This is my even favouriter post than last year!!

And, um, can we pretty please see the original? *wink*

lizardek said...

Bawk bawk!!

BlackenedBoy said...

You are so cool and awesome and weird and sweet all at the same time. But come on, you have to show the white butt photo! It's genius!

halloweenlover said...

I love it! I actually think that is a gorgeous picture, truthfully.

But I really really REALLY want to see the white butt picture! Please?

jo(e) said...

You can all stop asking. I'm not going to show the white butt shot.

I CAME WITH A NAKED PHOTO. Isn't that enough?

Sheesh.

Rana said...

I was about to start dancing around and chanting "White! Butt! White! Butt! Show us that whiiiiite butt!" and then I realized - I'm seeing you next spring. When you're likely to have a camera.

So I decided to keep my mouth shut.

*wink*

jo(e) said...

And yeah, that comment above?

It should be "I came BACK with a naked photo."

An unfortunate typo ....

jo(e) said...

Rana: Yeah, you know my readers are going to want a naked photo of you. They aren't going to settle for naked feet this time around ....

susan said...

I just love the sense of fun, intimacy, and tradition that runs through all your relationships. And beauty, too. What an awesome photo.

Sandy said...

The tradition continues!

heidi said...

Did you know that today is NOW's "Love your body" day?

So that photo is very appropriate.

TC said...

I cannot BELIEVE you are going to be this mean and not show us the butt shot! Mean, mean, mean. ;-)

YourFireAnt said...

So, what if we started offering money? How much would it have to get up to before you'd part with the WBS? [white butt shot, i.e.]

And as far as us being satisfied with the naked photo, well....you've taught us to always want MORE.

Good teacher!


;-D

Billie said...

This is a gorgeous shot, Jo(e). I love it, and even if it's constructed, there is -- as you said -- a truthfulness to it. Just lovely.

Now, the OTHER photo? I don't care much about your butt, but I **am** interested in that shaft of light. Any chance of seeing it?

:-D

jo(e) said...

I am not accepting bribes.

jo(e) said...

Billie: You and I posted comments at the exact same time.

Thanks for the compliment.

But that other shot? You have to come visit me to see it.

Terry said...

How wonderful, both the essay and the photo. I hope you'll keep the tradition for years to come.

YourFireAnt said...

Hey, if I come and visit you, can I see the other shot?

;-)

FA

Cathy said...

I want to see the shiney hiney. I was hoping I was going to be the first to say that.

You can always "doctor" the shiney hiney.

kathy a. said...

what's this about? you ask everyone you meet to pose naked, but don't want your sunlit butt to be exposed?

whatever. my hands, feet, and maybe my upper back are ready for their photo-shoots, with enough enducement.

kathy a. said...

my personal butt is not ever going to be ready for prime time, btw. but then again, i don't go showing naked photos. so there.

jo(e) said...

FA: It's on my laptop. So you can see it next time we get together.

Cathy: I can't doctor the photo -- I don't have photoshop. And really, it's funny enough as is.

Kathy a: Really, if you saw the shot, you'd understand ....

Overeducated Twit said...

I enjoy the naked picture stories just about as much as the pictures themselves, I think--maybe even more.

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

You have to come visit me to see it. - is that an open invitation?

:-)

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

You have to come visit me to see it.

Oh - and were you just referring to the picture?

:-) :-)

red-haired sister said...

C'mon I need a shot to show my friends, of my sister's white butt to go with the shot of my husband's white buns as he jumped into the river. His photo showed a very white butt in contrast with his tan.Actually I think showing my sister's butt maybe a bit less strange than showing the buns of Tied -dyed husband.

Cathy said...

Your sister does make a good point.

Perhaps it will bring an entire new meaning to CYA.

kathy a. said...

one would think that the votes of family, including family brave enough to show their personal naked butts on your website, would count for a lot.

i'm disappointed, jo(e).

Abby said...

Well, this is a beautiful photo. I'd probably frame it and put it up somewhere. I am, however, sadly disappointed that we didn't get to see the day-glo ass pictures. I'm just sayin'.

Busymomma66 said...

We want the butt!
We want the butt!
We want the butt!


;)

Cathy said...

You know, if you had never written about the light on your shiny hiney, you could have posted the picture and we would have never known whose bottom was being highlighted.

I think your readers are being teased :)

jo(e) said...

Cathy: But I'm a writer, not a photographer. I would always choose telling the story over posting the picture.

Gawdess said...

and the light is perfect and the tones of flesh are all symmetry
but I can't help thinking that there should be a brave white gleaming... ah well...

YourFireAnt said...

You heard the lady; she's a writer. And in writerland we learn to always leave 'em wanting more.

;-)

kathy a. said...

jo(e), with all respect, you are dancing around to cover your ass.

several times, on this very blog, you have explained that you post photos as writing prompts. we faithful readers are hearing what you are saying about the UNPUBLISHED NAKED PHOTO, but we cannot assess whether you have made a valid decision unless we see the goods. i'm giving you a D for incomplete work, but a makeup is allowed.

Yankee, Transferred said...

Love it.

Artist Friend said...

Show all these good people the photo! Title it “La Derrière en Lumière.” For all your non-francophile readers, this would translate to “ass in light,” but admittedly, it sounds better en français.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

lau lordy jo(e), that's a good story - but indeed now I too want to see the photo! Despite the beautiful one in front of the fire place.

Silver Creek Mom said...

Looks like a Renaissance painting.
And LOL at Artist Friend. LOVE IT!

Lilian said...

WHOA, this one had my LOL!! :-D Thanks... I'm glad I decided to check back on the whole month of October to see what I'd missed ;-)

Anyway... posts like these are the best also because of the comments, one cannot just leave without reading them ALL, one by one. It's hilarious to read about the shiney hiney and I love the suggestion of “La Derrière en Lumière.” Some smart friends.

It was also very entertaining to read the comments by your sister and your BIL... I think it's so awesome that your whole family reads the blog. I so want to be you ;-)

Anyway... I think that on behalf of all your ardent fans who want to meet you someday one of these days you should let us know in advance which are the conferences you're going and where... all with cool decipherable pseudonyms, so we can plan ahead for blogger meet ups. I'd even travel for a couple of hours if necessary (e.g. if I knew months in advance, I could go to Big City like no other)...

Anyway... GREAT POST. And I hope to see the photo in your laptop someday and laugh my butt off ... :-D

simplethymes said...

Your naked photo traditions with your girl friends just reminded me of the movie Calendar Girls. Very cute :-)