In encounters with non-significant others at, say, the office, gym, movie theatre or any public place, there is sometimes the person who erects a boundary and the one who tries to push through it.
I won’t say I’ve never been the second type, I just can’t remember it. Usually, I am the one raising that invisible force field that says back off to the first type so I’m good at it, but what do you do when you have already lowered the wall and engaged in friendly convo with someone and they want more than you want?
And you are both naked.
The example: There is a woman at water aerobics who attempts to invade my space on a regular basis. She is gabby and not in a good way, and as I hate verbal diarrhea—even my own—I have deliberately put distance between us since that first hellohowareyou years ago. She’s nice enough, so I momentarily felt jerkish, until I realized that, unchecked, she would talk through the whole class, hi-jacking my workout and chance to unwind.
I noticed it that first day. How even the knowing slow joggers tried to propel past her or drop back so she wouldn’t latch on like a starfish and blab away about health problems, places she’s lived or visited, food preferences–everything. She is the nails on the chalkboard in an atmosphere filled with appreciable silences, smiles and head nods and occasional mutually-welcome convos.
She always reaches in innocently enough: You have a beautiful smile. You always look so at ease when we’re doing sprints. I love your swimsuit and faster than I can say thank you, she turns to the story of her.
One day, out of curiosity, I let her ramble and noted a five-to-thirty word exchange ratio. Probably I’m exaggerating but excessive chatter feels like being attacked by rabid bats. It makes me dizzy and I want to flee.
And the worst part is that she has a habit of closing the physical space between us, as if that’s a good idea when we’re getting ready to do karate kicks and punches.
Most of my life I have been comfortable naked with strangers I have no more in common with than the bees circling my lavender plants, except that we’re temporarily occupying the same space. Female-only locker rooms, soaking pools, and saunas are treated as extensions of my home. Hell, my neighbors have probably seen me naked too because I forgetfully leave the blinds open for light and wander around free sometimes. It’s different though when a chatty almost-stranger gets so close that her rather ample bosom almost touches mine. Scary different. She’s a 44 double G (she volunteered this), so maybe a dozen of my not-so-spectacular breasts could fit inside of hers if we were doing a macabre science experiment.
In class, the only time she has the opportunity to push up on me is when I stop for a swig of water although I usually settle my bottle away from hers. I also take a step back for every step she takes forward, which would be enough of a hint to stop for most people. Sometimes I have to employ a gesturing arm and a raised eyebrow of alarm. Then I put my bottle down and sprint away, wondering if she behaves this way because she’s southern or has sisters – neither of which are true for me.
I just don’t get it.
So I also sit away from her in the sauna in a nook only I can fit in and close my eyes or watch the kids swim in a nearby big pool with such rapt attention you’d think one of them belonged to me, and it is the best of times when the other chatty one makes class and they dive into two monologue-like dumps that don’t intersect like a real conversation, but leave the rest of us alone.
Recently, post-sauna, she took it too far. I had stripped off my swimsuit and was flopping naked to the shower with towel in hand as most do and she stepped in front of me preparing to engage me in some unwanted chatter and I realized our naked breasts would be touching if I didn’t swerve like I was doing a tai chi movement, so I did.
I have to make it a game, otherwise I’d be mad at her.
Otherwise I’d be one of the women who just put their clothes on over wet suits or change in the bathroom stalls and shower at home, spooked by the thought that another naked someone with no sense of personal space will look too long or get too close.
I want to ask a nudist how they deal with people with proximity-code violations since they are naked much more than I am in public places and if my classmate would be booted off a clothing-optional beach for not keeping a respectable distance, but I don’t know any so have decided the answer is Yes and I have to keep playing these games with her.