We have raised a household of open communications. Each child is open to varying degrees, but in general, we are all prepared to hear and respect each other's opinions and experiences, even if we don't necessarily approve of them.
On the other hand, there is such a thing as too much information, otherwise known as TMI in computer or teen-speak. My son went to the same college as A., who just graduated in December (it also happens to be both J's and my alma mater). When they started telling us about naked parties, we thought maybe this was one of those times we'd just as soon not hear about it. We had some wild things going on during college, but naked parties were not on the list. Besides, the list looks a lot different when it's your children and not yourself taking part.
As it turns out, naked parties are not what one might think. There are rules of respect and discretion quite religiously followed by all.
1. You may not attend a naked party clothed. You arrive, receive a garbage bag in which to put all of your clothing, and set it carefully aside.
2. No touching allowed. No one is to feel threatened or at risk in any way, so the no touching rule is sacrosanct.
Some of my peers were skeptical -- Yeah, right. I'm sure there's no touching. But S. assures me that the whole exercise would collapse if rule 2 were broken. The students are making an almost militant statement about their decision to rise above (not rise below.....sorry, couldn't resist) superficial judgments and animal sexuality. Eyes are studiously kept at face level.
"Besides," my son said, "the human body is, yes, a beautiful thing, but when it is just there in all of its natural state of droopiness and lumps, it's not really that sexy."
A. put it more succinctly: "It's so great, because no one looks good naked."
I have no illusions about sex life or partying in college. The fact that my children have been quite open with me about all that other stuff assures me that I'm getting the naked truth on naked parties.
By all reports, naked parties are freeing and funny and quirky and unique - but totally platonic by design. I even looked it up on Wikipedia. I discovered that it is not just one school that takes part in this new phenomenon. A lot of campuses are trying it out. Perhaps it is a natural and healthy escape from the rash of materialism that has inundated this country that college kids grew up in. This is what we are - all the same underneath.
So, chalk up another learning experience for mom and dad. Hey, maybe we should try it too! Imagine how it might affect the elitist hierarchy at business functions or political meetings...
...nah. I don't think so. There's not-looking-good at 21: makes you free and happy; and there's not-looking-good at 50: makes you sick and depressed. Although that could be a battle tactic for those adults who disapprove of college naked parties. Send a few middle-aged parents to join one, and see how quickly the party's over.
But who knows? Maybe this new generation will take their naked parties into their middle age. Social evolution continues to surprise us. As for me, I'll keep my naked parties restricted until further notice.