Dear Abby is a very famous advice column that's been published since the ‘50s. Pauline Phillips founded it under the pen name Abigail Van Buren; her daughter Jeanne Phillips took over the column after her mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. This Abby, it seems, can be a bit of a hippie.
In a column published this week, a nervous single father writing in as STUMPED IN KENTUCKY addresses the legendary Van Buren about something very baffling: his teenage sons' "nude fests."
It's clear that Mr. Kentucky Stump doesn't ask what he's really thinking about this very troubling matter. And Abby doesn't say exactly what she means either. Fortunately, for you, we've taken the trouble of translating their exchange.
DEAR ABBY: I am the single dad of two teenage boys (17 and 18) who are both in high school. I am wondering about something they do with their friends. The boys take showers in large groups. When they come in from running or sports, or if a group is spending the night, they shower in groups of two, three or four. It's not like we have a huge shower — it's normal size.
Translated: The shower has enough room for one salami and two baguettes, not four salamis and eight baguettes. You know, normal size.
I know there's nothing sexual going on because I can hear them talking and joking around.
Translated: I have tiptoed in stocking feet up to the bathroom door, pressed my ears up to the doors. Once—but only once—I even held a glass up to the door.
Okay, three times.
When I asked the boys about this, they looked at me like I had two heads. They said it was just a social thing and the same as showering together after football in the school gym.
Translated: That one (of three) time(s) I pressed the glass onto the door I heard them laughing and talking about Dick—he's a tight end on the high-school football team. I swear; he's a good kid. AND A REAL PERSON! I even met his parents!
They also "air dry" after showers by walking around in towels, sometimes watching TV or goofing off for hours while in their towels. When going out, they get naked in the bathroom, fixing their hair, shaving, brushing their teeth, etc. It's like a big "nude fest" with them and their friends.
Translated: My sons aren't gay . . . are they?
While I'm glad they are comfortable with their bodies and who they are, it still bothers me somewhat. Am I being a prude in thinking this is unusual or inappropriate? — STUMPED IN KENTUCKY
Translated: Are my sons gay?
DEAR STUMPED: I see nothing inappropriate about what your sons and their friends are doing.
Translated: Maybe your sons are gay, maybe they are not. They might just be playing grown-up doctor with their minds. Keep yours open.
Nor do I want to label you a prude. You are just not as comfortable in your skin as your sons and their "jock" friends are.
Translated: I won't call you a "prude." Instead, I will call you a "never nude." I suspect you should see somebody about your undiagnosed Gymnophobia.
Is it possible that they take after their mother?
Translated: There's no real delicate way to put this, but your babymama's kind of a ho, isn't she?