Mark LaFlamme

The man in the red satin underwear clung to the window ledge with a death grip as though he were a hundred stories above hard unforgiving ground. 

He wasn’t. He was about FOUR feet from the ground, as it happens, and the ground was heaped high with soft, fresh snow. Why, it was like a welcoming pillow down there and all he had to do was fall into it to continue his mad scramble from the law. 

Sir Underpants wanted nothing to do with letting go, however, and only dug his fingers deeper into the sill. When the po po first came knocking on his door, it might have SEEMED like a good idea to go out the window, but now he was rethinking the idea and there he hung, clinging to that little ledge clad only in that shiny red underwear that gleamed for all to see. 

“Help!” he cried out at last. “Get me down from here!” 

The police — there were four or five officers by that point — were more than happy to oblige, yet they stood there gawping a moment at the spectacle just a few feet over their heads. 

Who could blame them, really? Who could blame the dozen or so neighbors who had come out into the cold to behold the strange sight. These were the days before cameras in every pocket, which I imagine Mr. Skivvies appreciates to this day. All those people could do was haw haw and hee hee and commit the sight to memory so they could describe it later to their friends. 

“You should have seen it, Hortense. The fool was naked except for those shiny underpants as red as a bullfighter’s flag. You shoulda SEEN it!” 

It turned out to be a brief affair, that whole scene, and while Mr. Knickers wasn’t completely nude when the cops pulled him down, I’ve always felt that he deserves his place in The Naked Files. 

Oh, yes. There is such a thing as The Naked Files, and man, it’s vast. 

By the time I was six months on the job here, I was already bewildered by how many people were running around naked on the downtown streets. Some of them were just going for walkabouts bollocky bare until someone made them go home and put pants on. Others were getting into brawls on downtown sidewalks, which always made me feel kind of bad for the other guy — who wants to employ advanced krav maga when you just can’t be sure what you’re going to be grabbing onto all up in there? 

Naked people were everywhere and they were doing all sorts of weird things. 

“What’s with all the naked people around here?” I asked a cop. 

“Always been a thing,” he said, as if that was a perfectly valid explanation. 

Not long after, I encountered a topless lass strolling around at the corner at Pine and Lisbon streets, her upper half bare as the day she shot out of her mother. The lass seemed normal in every other way. She was smiling faintly. She didn’t stagger or babble or any of that. She simply walked on, enjoying the sun on her shoulders. Perhaps she was just looking for a tan. 

Pity it was still early March. 

A short time later, a pantsless man was discovered asleep on the sidewalk just outside the Sun Journal. All curled up like a kitten, he was, his head resting on his folded hands. 

“What happened to your pants?” I asked him when he roused. 

“Whoa,” he said. “I’m not wearing pants?” 

The cops who arrived moments later had harder questions for the fellow, but they were also quick to give him a blanket with which to cover his shame. 

Sometimes when someone goes for a naked strut about town, it’s mental illness that drives them. We don’t make fun of those people. We get them covered up and hustle them off to whatever help they need. 

More often, it’s drunkenness that compels a person to shed shirt and pants and skivvies and one sock — yes, ONE sock, because lots of otherwise naked folks out there like to keep one stocking on to add an artistic flair to their spontaneous streak. Usually it’s a tube sock pulled all the way up to the knee, and you have to admit: It adds a perverse kind of savoir faire to a naked stroll. 

“Why’d you leave one sock on?” I asked one of these daring souls who was doing his thing near Kennedy Park. 

“Whoa!” he said. “I’m wearing a sock?” 

So, now it’s spring and another season of nakedness is upon us. We’ve all been cooped up and masked and inhibited in so many ways over the past year, frankly I think we could all use a naked strut up the sidewalk, if only to feel the wind on all of our parts. 

If we all do it together, nobody can point and snicker and shame us for it. We’ve EARNED this. 

Are you ready? 

You go first.


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