A week or so ago, a former colleague stopped by the office. He chatted with me briefly — I was sitting at my desk in a darkened corner of the newsroom and he was standing about six feet away in the corridor. I remarked to him that he looked good, as in fit, healthy and well-rested.

Later, when I was talking to a current colleague, I mentioned that I had seen aforementioned former colleague and how great he looked. She replied: “Oh, I didn’t get to see him . . . does he still have a beard.”

My mind went blank. I couldn’t recall if he had a beard . . . and sheepishly made that confession to her.

In fairness to my blonde self, I was sitting in a darkened area — deliberately darkened because the two of us who work there prefer it that way. I couldn’t see the pores on the ex-colleague’s face or anything. But you’d think I would have noticed whether he had a beard or not, yes?  Well, no, apparently. I didn’t make a mental note of facial hair or lack thereof. Yet I felt he looked fit and well-rested.

I confess I am not always the most observant of individuals when it comes to noticing things about other people’s appearance in casual settings. And I think I am noticing even less now that I have been attending social nudism events, where the idea is not to notice and appraise other people’s bodies. It’s all about eye contact.

Though, we still do notice things, of course. It’s human nature — selective observation. But I suspect that as naturists, we see and just as quickly forget whether so-and-so has a beer pot belly or stretch marks or, yes, even sports a beard — unless it’s of the ZZ Top sort. But the average short, well-groomed beard is, well, just so common these days . . . who really notices?


Not me, apparently.

I’m think if I set out to notice things, say, if I were on a reporting assignment, I would notice every little detail about a person. Or not? I’m not sure. The reason: Well, last October, when I posed nude for a group of artists, I was pleasantly surprised by what they observed and, more specifically, didn’t observe about my body. I’m very self-conscious about the lines of time on my face. Yet most of the artists didn’t draw those lines, and the few who did made only scant references to them in their drawings. God bless them all!

So, I am not sure what this all says about how we see each other and how we see ourselves, except that it seems to be all about selective observation — and maybe I shouldn’t be so hung up on my lines if other people don’t really notice them.

I’d like input from my naturist readers. What say you about all of this? How has naturism affected your views of others?

Oh, by the way, after putting my brain through a scan, I can say with some certainty that the gentleman in question didn’t have a beard . . . I think.