Brief Encounters

Gut Instinct: Brief Encounters

Who wants pizza?!

The halogen-bright morning sun beat down on my crusted eyelids.

Opening them felt like I was prying the top of an ancient jar of mustard.

To my right, my girlfriend’s carcass was comatose, immune to meddlesome light. I stood and stretched. My back snapped and crackled like bubble wrap, my muscles sore and flu-achy. Perhaps it was the tub of Buffalo Trace bourbon I consumed the previous eve, but it took several beats to make an important realization: Well, I thought, it looks like I’ve lost my pants and underwear.

Had our hissing radiator turned our apartment as hot as Hades, forcing me to shed clothes like a dog does fur? I typed a Google search into my bourbon-shrouded brain, yielding no results. Now, I should’ve pulled on pajamas or shorts. But my girlfriend and I recently ditched our roommate and, for the first time, we control the entire apartment. It’s unfettered freedom: The fridge features a dedicated beer shelf. I can play ear-splitting, early ’90s indie rock. Most happily, however, I can make a sandwich or a pot of coffee without wearing pants.

“Even cavemen have better manners,” my girl complained. “I can do what I want: I pay the rent here,” I replied.

“Half the rent,” she sighed, shutting her office door and turning up the volume on The Biggest Loser.

I blame my bear-naked dining on my dear old dad. During my youth, he’d often strut around home wearing his white briefs. “Will you at least wear a shirt?” I’d squeak, shirking at the spectacle of the grey chest rug that awaited my future. It was like gazing into a furry crystal ball. “Who pays the rent around here?” he’d ask rhetorically. Then he’d head into the kitchen to grab a glass of icy Diet Coke or cut a slice of Entenmann’s coffee cake.

Instead of advocating semi-nudity, I think this is my father’s takeaway lesson: At home, you can do as you damn well please. Want to pee with the bathroom door open? Drop your drawers and don’t lock the door! Go on, stick your finger in the peanut butter jar. Your house is your kingdom, where pleasure and comfort are paramount— snacking in your skivvies included.

Now, exceptions exist to my hastily penned, half-cooked hypothesis. While it’s OK to nosh while unclothed, it’s a no-no to eat food off of another human. Case in point: that troubling trend concerning a nude woman doubling as sushi serving platter. Call me a prude—sure, I know about the magical combo of nipples and Reddi- Wip—but there’s nothing appealing about plucking a California roll from a lady’s stubbly crevice.

Also, summer aside, one should always be fully clothed while consuming alcohol. Here’s a handy parable: My freshman year of college, my next-door neighbor was lanky Cowboy Craig, thus named because he wore Stetsons and talked like a Southerner. One night, I knocked on his door to borrow a pen. “Come in,” Cowboy Craig drawled, his words thick and honeyed. I entered his lair, dark as Darth Vader, and saw Cowboy Craig sitting by a window. Moonlight glinted off his jug of Jack Daniel’s, a few inches from empty. He wore nothing but briefs and a smile.

“Are you OK, Craig?” I asked, unsure if I wanted an answer. “Never better.” He passed me a pen.Then he took a long, slow swallow of tan whiskey and smiled. It was a beguiling grin that said, “Hey, buddy, glad to see you” and “While you sleep, I’m going to sneak into your bedroom and use your intestines as sausage casings.” I returned to my room as quick as a mouse, locking the door double tight.

And so, after all this soapbox stumping, we find ourselves back at the beginning: watching me in my birthday suit, hangover throbbing, the only sound my rumbling stomach.While my sweetheart slept, I crept into the kitchen and cracked the fridge as quietly as a jewel thief. I pondered a bowl of creamy homemade cabbage soup, but that might make me gassy—a rather unappealing notion when nude. I also vetoed the acidic Macintosh apples, but hidden beneath a head of wilted romaine lettuce I found my appetite’s answer: a Tupperware container filled with a friend’s frosted pumpkin cupcakes.

I selected a well-frosted specimen and peeled away the foil. I took a chipmunk nibble. It tasted sweet and illicit—dessert as breakfast, breakfast in the buff. I gobbled the first cupcake and, with no one looking, reached for another, the crumbs dropping into warm nooks and crannies that best remain unwritten. C