I would like to have a conversation about bare-chested men.  And no, this topic did not arise from some erotic fantasy in which I was a castaway on a deserted island with Vladimir Putin.  But rather, a reality that I have confronted on a rather regular basis now that the weather has heated up here in South Florida.

As I walk my dog on a public thoroughfare, it is not unusual for me to encounter a topless male of a certain age.  Said male has removed his T-shirt because he is experiencing an uncomfortable body temperature.  What he may or may not be aware of is that gazing upon his unsolicited nakedness may be raising my body temperature as well, and not in a good way.

While a woman cannot reveal the upper half of her anatomy without censure or possible arrest, a man can.  The reasons for this imbalance on the scales of justice are a topic for another day.  And I am not at all advocating for equal treatment when it comes to disrobing.  But I do have a question where men are concerned:  just because you can, does it mean that you should?

There was once a time in the not so distance past, where men were, in fact, required to cover up, even at the beach.  It was the law.  We’ve all seen those old pictures of guys in two-piece suits, where the tops looked like old undershirts.  Naked nipples were taboo.  For some reason, men began flaunting these laws, and by the late thirties and early forties, were legally sunbathing in Central Park sans tops.

Obviously, there are certain environments where it’s perfectly acceptable to let it all hang out, like the beach, or in one’s own backyard.   But stripping on a city street? Let’s please rethink that option, even if you’ve only recently reached drinking age.

None of us is perfect.  Those of us on social security may have left perfection behind at least two decades ago, if it ever existed at all.  And that’s fine.  Love yourself, I say.  But casually passing a guy on the street is not an invitation to intimacy.  Hey neighbor, knowing that you have sagging muscles or a hairy chest is simply too much information!

The other day, in a parking lot, as I was pulling out, a man pulled his car next to mine.  One quick glance told me that he was scrawny, hairy, and had pasty white skin.  How did I know this? Because he had no shirt on!  Remember “Ugly Naked Guy” from the TV show “Friends?”  Well, he went on a diet and moved to Florida after the season finale.  Presumably “UNG” was wearing pants, but I sure didn’t wait around long enough to watch him get out of his car.  It’s at least 24 hours after the event, and I still haven’t managed to “unsee” him.  Had I been younger, this image might very well have stunted my growth!

I’m no prude, but I would appreciate just a bit more modesty.  Fortunately, there are some environments that are more inclined to sensitivity, like a restaurant, including one near a beach, that require SHIRT and shoes for entrance.  Even the gym, where sweat equals success, tops are a requirement for everyone.  And that includes young, buff guys, as well as the older dudes.

I have always taken gym attire for granted, but now that I realize shirts are a rule, I just might consider renewing my membership.

So you guys out there, remember.  It’s as hot for me as it is for you.  So jog, bike, fast-walk, stroll, whatever you like.  But for heaven’s sake, keep your shirt on!

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