MINNEAPOLIS, MN—Claims adjuster Geoffrey Danvers is like many other Minneapolis residents. He is gainfully employed, participates in community events, and is an avid reader who particularly enjoys courtroom thrillers. One thing Danvers does not share with his friends and neighbors, however, is discomfort with the sight of his nude body.
"Nudity is the natural state of the human body," Danvers said Monday, adjusting his sunglasses and leaning back in his lawn chair to increase the airflow around his genitals. "Europeans have a very relaxed attitude about nudity—both on their beaches and in other public spaces. Why be bound up in clothes all the time?"
He then stood to retrieve a drink from a nearby table, revealing a reddish, woven-crosshatch pattern on his back and buttocks.
While Danvers characterized his naked body as "no big deal," others dubbed it "gross," "embarrassing," and "tragic."
"It's good to be comfortable with your body," said Fran Hendricks, Danvers' fully clothed neighbor. "But you can't expect everyone else to be—for example, someone walking her dog before work who just happens to glance in your living-room window. His junk was just hanging there, swaying like a wind sock in a light breeze."
During the warm summer months, Danvers and his circumcised penis spend many hours exposed to the elements. Danvers said he usually takes his clothes off to cool down, but he acknowledged that he doesn't see the point in putting them back on to mow his lawn, watch television, or prepare spring rolls.
"I don't force my choice on anyone else," Danvers said. "The moment I leave my property, I wear clothes. When I have company over, I usually wear clothes. But if I'm hanging out around the living room—or the kitchen, or the garage, or the deck—why shouldn't I be comfortable?"
Neighbors provided several reasons for Danvers to not be comfortable.
"I shouldn't have to see him strutting his pasty, flabby body around like a peacock," said Elaine Preston, who lives next door to Danvers. "What Geoff does with his body behind closed doors makes no difference to me. But when he's grilling in his backyard or taking out the garbage, he needs to wear some trunks. At the very least, he should close his shades during his morning yoga routine."
Danvers brushed off the criticism.
"The hang-up over the unclothed form stems from the Christian association of nudity with paganism," Danvers said. "But religious people need to remember that Adam and Eve were naked until the devil imposed the idea of shame on them. You'd think Christians would see the human body as a work of God's art."
"You know, I'm just like everyone else," Danvers added. "I put my pants on one leg at a time on those days I wear them."
Neither his dimpled appendectomy scar nor local restaurants' refusal to deliver food to his address have convinced Danvers to clothe himself.
"Nudity has connotations of poverty, slavery, and defeat," Danvers said, his flaccid penis resting on his left thigh. "But when I'm gardening, and it's just me and nature with no clothes in between, I don't feel defeated. I feel triumphant. That is, when I even remember that I'm naked, which I rarely do. See? That's how natural it is."
While most neighbors say they are careful not to visit Danvers without calling in advance, at least one coworker has made the mistake of ringing Danvers' doorbell unexpectedly.
"Last month, I stopped by to pick up some files," coworker Tom McDaniel said. "Geoff came to the door with nothing but the papers. At first, I thought he just wasn't wearing a shirt. Then I looked down and saw his ding-a-ling."
"He even invited me in for some coffee," McDaniel continued. "I could see a leather living-room set behind him. From now on, we'll be exchanging documents via e-mail."