As mentioned on the third of this month when I wrote about the deeply embarrassing occasion of my having answered my front door naked to friends, Audrey and I invited our dearest friends to visit on Sunday night last.
Tea and biscuits were laid on, plainly too many biscuits but biscuits are such a comfort in times of high tension I find.
I had invited friends for tea at eight and by half-past we were all there.
We, Audrey and I, had discussed how best to approach our delicate matter and we resolved to first mention the topic of our nudism at home, then the fact that I did not indeed have a man friend, and then to drop the largest of packages, our romantic relationship.
The matter of our home nudism ruffled barely any feathers at all which was a surprise. Slightly embarrassed tittering and open-mouthed amazement greeted that announcement. Anne asked how it worked and why. Ruby, our eldest friend admitted, with a scarlet face, that she too goes about her house naked, since her husband Robert passed four years ago. The consensus was that nobody was fussed as long as they were not expected to participate. I assured them it was a choice, not a requirement and that we would not expose them to the embarrassment of being clothed while we went bare. It would be our own activity. We did add that if they wished to join us we would not object. All naked or none, that was our final consensus.
The next tricky thing was to extricate myself from the lie about my non-existent male friend. I found the only way was to tell them directly. I told them the truth, that I was naked at home and I had been expecting Audrey with whom I go naked at home. Having taken my home nudity in their stride it didn’t seem a bridge too far to encompass my answering the door naked to Audrey. There was some discussion about my having created a male friend but it was good-natured. We laughed. Antonia did ask if I had been seeing someone. The other were expectant and the moment had come. It was uncomfortable. I had no idea what their reaction would be to the news of Audrey and me.
I looked at Audrey. She was as quiet as the grave and slightly pale. She just nodded a very slight nod to me and a tiny smile.
My memory of precisely how it went is blurred. Audrey told me after that it came as a flurry followed by silence, a long silence. I can only recall the long silence.
Apparently I just came out with it, no pun intended, and said that Audrey had been a comfort since my marriage had collapsed and that we had found our feelings went deeper than either had expected. I said I did not know if it was a deep and abiding love but there are deep feelings that we have expressed emotionally and physically. I said that were are not ashamed of it and that we both felt our friends deserved to know. I said if they did not wish to be our friends anymore that I would understand but I would be saddened and disappointed. That was all I said, Audrey told me, and then the silence fell.
Clarissa said something under her breath that sounded like ‘disgusting’, stood and left. The silence deepened.
Ruby broke the silence when she said ‘well, good for you’. She said she’d never been tempted by another woman but that her thinking was that love is rare and she doesn’t think it matters where it comes from. The others just murmured and nodded their agreement. Anne began to cry and stood and hugged both Audrey and me. She kept saying ‘so brave, so brave’. Joan just said she understood but her husband would not so she just wouldn’t tell him. Then she smiled and laughed a nervous laugh. Antonia’s face was serious and she just nodded.
Michelle had been very quiet and was last to speak. She hesitated a lot and ummed and aahed. Then she seemed to gain a little strength, I could see it happen. She told us then that she since her divorce eleven years ago she had been having a relationship with her neighbour, Noelene. We all gaped at her, even Audrey and me. Michelle was the last one any of us would have expected to be involved with a woman. She spends so much time surrounded by male friends, at tennis and at parties. She has even been seen about town with a man, Geoffrey, at dinners and at drinks parties. Geoffrey is gay, Michelle told us. A dark horse, Michelle.
We have none of us heard from Clarissa since she walked out on Sunday night. I suppose she must be struggling to understand. Perhaps not. Perhaps she just can’t accept such a thing. She is a dear friend and I miss her awfully. Perhaps in time.
Audrey and I asked Michelle and Noelene for dinner on Tuesday evening. It was delightful. We spent the whole time exchanging stories and we promised each other that we would keep our knowledge of each others’ relationships between us and our little circle of friends.
Ruby visited on Monday. We all went naked. Now our little band of home nudists numbers three. I did ask Michelle and Noelene about it but they are quite conservative in their own way so they said no. Never mind. It is a very personal thing to do and I have no intention of becoming some sort of evangelist for nudism.
In the end, apart from Clarissa, our friendships have not altered at all; they have all deepened still further if anything. We have discovered things about each other we had never suspected and we are all carrying on as ever. We do exchange pointed glances, our little group, when we lunch, sometimes. But they are good-natured, cheeky glances, and that is rather fun.
Without being indelicate I must spill the beans on one thing, following that Sunday night dinner Audrey and I did enjoy quite the time after we had gone to bed. It seems our unburdening released a sort of genie from its bottle. I shall say no more about that at the risk of embarrassing myself, and you. Suffice to say the evening had not run out of surprises.
I am so pleased that everything is out in the open. Life in my little Monet house and out and about has become so much more breezy and carefree.
Until next we meet,