Thursday, October 22, 2009

Naked behaviour

1989. I was dating Oskana when I was a film student at York and she was attending Trent as a lit student. Her roommate Lily was taking sports medicine and worked in a kitchen on the side. Lily was petite, dark eyed and looked like a Celtic twin to the very Russian Oskana. I’d met Lily once or twice before and thought she was a nice enough person, if perhaps a little reserved. She had a large boyfriend who was taking law enforcement classes and was refused from the Army due to an almost imperceptible heart condition.

It had taken two busses to get me to Peterborough (one of them rear-ended a tractor trailer on the 401) on an unseasonably cold and slippery night. I was irritated by the overlong trip and didn’t want much more than a cup of coffee and a slow kiss from Oskana when I knocked on her door. I heard the bolt slide back and “C’mon in” from Lily (in a charming light Scots accent) before entering.

Everything got low-level weird from that point on.

I opened the door to see Lily walking away, naked. Not “Hiya, big boy” naked by any stretch of the imagination, just naked. Sort of the-rads-came-on-early-and-they’re-overcranked naked.

She turned the corner into the kitchen and I put the story together- I’d gotten her out of the shower. Or bed. Or she didn’t think I’d open the door so fast. Or didn’t care if I saw her, which was a facet of her personality that I didn’t much want to examine further. In any case, I was pretty sure that the incident was over. I dropped my wet bags, jacket and shoes and headed into the living room to what I was hoping was a nice warm couch.

Lily had cut through the kitchen and claimed the couch. “Oskana’s at the drugstore, she’ll be back in ten,” she said. She was still naked, sitting down and leaning over the steamer-trunk coffee table to cut an apple and a piece of cheddar. She was listening to a cordless phone without interest and watching Saturday Night Live (a re-run, Steven Segal was the host). She absent-mindedly handed me a cup of cranberry tea and skootched over a few inches to allow me to sit beside her.

I was of two minds about this unexpected nudity. The first was (not surprisingly for a 3rd year University student) reminiscent of any one of the dozens of letters to Penthouse magazine I was familiar with from the very early 1980’s. These thoughts were stricken from the record when I remembered that Lily had shown no signs of attraction to me other than saying ‘thanks’ for a package of cinnamon Dentyne I’d donated to her purse one time. A scenario along the lines of ‘Goodness. Your girlfriend’s not here. So whatever shall we do to pass the time?’ wasn’t likely.

My second school of thought was that Lily was drunk or depressed enough to perhaps not realize that she was naked around me. That prospect was downright sobering and made me regret the initial Penthouse letter scenarios. I didn’t know if Lily had a drinking problem; Oskana hadn’t mentioned any depressive issues. Or any exhibitionist tendencies for that matter.

A quick look around the room didn’t reveal any empty bottles. The only thing I hadn’t seen before was the open course syllabus on the coffee table with a few listings underlined in pink highlighter. She was probably using the touch-tone system to enrol for evening classes or was on hold trying to do the same thing through an operator. In any case, her nudity clearly wasn’t a topic for discussion. She looked too bored to be doing it for shock value and she definitely wasn’t flirting.

There wasn’t anywhere else in the room to sit other than some large cushions on the floor, so I stayed on the couch, drank tea, and watched Steven Segal. I could probably have camped out in Oskana’s bedroom, but I thought that (somehow) it would be easier to explain the naked woman on the couch to my girlfriend if I were fully dressed and on the same couch when she finally arrived. The idea of Lily's boyfriend arriving suddenly also didn’t amuse me. It wasn't going to degrade into a door-slamming bedroom farce but I didn’t feel like explaining the situation. It’s also possible that he might just have come into the apartment, looked at us on the couch and shrugged because this was a thing that Lily just, you know, did, but it struck me as weird all the same.

Oskana didn’t arrive in ten minutes. She took a very long twenty minutes.

She finally walked in the door with a beaming smile for me, which turned into a very surprised half-grin at Lily’s state. By this point, Lily was punching numbers on the phone with the end of a pencil and sort of waved in Oskana’s direction by way of greeting.

Oskana gave me a look that said What the hell? and I returned it with a look of Could we please leave the room? when she took me by the hand and led me into her bedroom.

She put – threw, really – her bag on the bed. “Want to tell me why?” she asked.

“I came in, she was nude. I averted my eyes. There’s nowhere else to sit. She’s been on the phone. She gave me tea. That’s it. Does she do this often.?”

“I…no,” she said. Followed by “Yes. Sort of. Once or twice after showers. Just around me. Not anybody else!”

“Is she okay?” I asked, and went on to outline the drunk/depressed theory. But she didn’t drink, or at least there wasn’t any booze in the house. She would sometimes flit about in her panties in the early morning or late evening when, as far as I knew, women were most often between outfits. Or something.

More discussion – assurances that she didn’t suspect anything and that I didn’t think I was Lily’s type in the first place – confirmations that this is a bit weird but probably not a sign of anything too scary – and did I want more tea? I did. So did Oskana.

The situation resolved itself – Lily had decided to warm up some pizza, had burned it, and had opened a window in the kitchen to let out the smoke. Somewhere between the initial baking and the smoking she’d put on a floppy Trent sweatshirt and gym shorts, maybe to combat the cool breeze from the window. She offered burnt pizza and other snacks (“I always have apples and cheese in front of TV,” she said in that still-charming mild Scots burr) and Oskana returned with tea. We decided Lily was slightly flakey and left it at that. The rest of the weekend was pleasantly uninteresting and not awkward at all.


mz said...

Interesting post. I found that you may have explained to your audience in too much detail about how the situation was than you did to Oksana.

It's okay, we believe you ;)

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