My True Skin

Rated PG

I have always been insecure about my body. I am sure that is an outgrowth of my introversion, but may have also fueled it, a vicious cycle.

Being a short, skinny, sickly, pale, glasses wearing, freckled ginger kid, well, you do get stared at, and not always with smiles.

Mother nature took care of some of that. By my teens the red hair wasn’t so red and a lot of people wore glasses. By my 30’s I had begun to thicken and bulk a little, though I will never get out of the 155 pound weight class. Martial arts training and other physical activity had begun to transform me. In my 40’s, my sickly nature was long behind me. Seems like I rarely get ill. The occasional asthma attack, but I’ve learned to control that mentally for the most part, sometimes with the help of an over-the-counter inhaler. People that I worked out with often referred to me as a machine, often out working folk half my age. But my frame was not going to let me get bigger or stronger. Not unless I made that a professional full-time goal, and that was not in my interests. Mother nature had stripped away all the hair on top and what was left was only getting whiter.

There is where I ran into another part of my physical self that had always bugged me. I was pale. As pale as one can be, and that often was commented on. That appearance of sickly was still trailing me.

About eight years ago I walked into a tanning salon for the first time. The lady behind the counter asked, “Can I help you?” I said, “I’m tired of being an old white man. Can’t do anything about the old or the man. But YOU can do something about the white.” She laughed. Since then I’ve managed to take on a more healthy glow, sometimes at a salon but lately relying more on old Sol. Yes, I know the dangers of skin cancer and I am careful. I also know the dragons that live in my head and they are much closer to me. It’s a trade off that I am willing to take. Suffice to say I am not a dark Adonis, but at least I do not make bed sheets blush anymore and my freckles are even less evident with a healthy tan.

However, I am still insecure about my body. Both of my wives and several lady friends have chastised me because I like to sleep in underwear and a T-shirt. Winter, Fall, Spring, or the heat of Summer, that is how I sleep. There is a comfort and a security with that extra layer of clothing tight around me.

I am not embarrassed about my physique, nor am I concerned about my endowment. No, it isn’t an embarrassment that keeps me clothed. It is a security issue. A swaddling that keeps me feeling a little safer inside.

So, should you and I ever be in a situation where I take off every last bit of clothing, know that you are special, whoever you may be. I have let you under my skin, literally. I will not, that first time, be as bold or brash as either of us might like, and most certainly my manhood will not show its full strength. The last layer of my epidermis will need to be soothed and convinced that it is safe with you.

When all is done and I don my little bits of clothing for sleep, do not take it personally. I need you there with me. To be all I can be for you, I need to feel safe. Then I can open up my heart, and feel you through my outer layer of skin.

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