“People think in the 21st century we don’t have taboos anymore. In my opinion, nudity is as big a taboo as ever.”
I met a guy – tall, good-looking, probably in his late twenties, without trousers.
How would you react if a guy without trousers walked past you in the middle of the street as if it was the most normal thing in the world? I would usually just shut up, grin in secret and tell my mates about it the next day.
But I was hunting for stories and just standing outside a pub in Fitzrovia, the least posh one I could find. And this guy definitely looked like he had gulped a couple of beers. So I asked him the bloody obvious question: Why?
“You know what? You’re actually the first person to ask me, so far I’ve only had surprised faces and rude remarks.”
He told me his name is Alex in perfect Oxford English, although I could hear and smell the tipsiness in his voice. If I saw him all dressed-up, I would immediately think of a banker.
“I’ve had crazy nights, I can’t say I don’t enjoy partying, but to be honest, this probably has a new quality.”
Alex still hadn’t answered the “Why?”, but I kept insisting on it.
“I don’t become melancholic or violent when I get drunk, I have deep and maybe long-winded conversations with my friends. I don’t know how we got there, but I told them the sexual revolution was a myth and nudity was as big a taboo as ever.”
Alex told me his friends challenged him to make the test:
“I don’t know if you asking me proves anything. I like to think it does.”
He works for a marketing agency in his daily life. I sensed there was something dubious about Alex, but I wasn’t sure what it was. Maybe just my ordinary dislike of marketing people. Or the fact that I felt like he was selling his trouserlessness as if I were a client when he told me “That’s just how I am, always up for a surprise, expect the unexpected”.
I didn’t have the possibility to find out, as it started drizzling and Alex wanted to move on.
“I think it’s also time to put my trousers back on,” he said. He seemed relieved.
Reporting by Michael Ertl
Behind the Story : For the Met Down The Pub project I sat in many pubs for long hours, waiting for a story, waiting for someone who looks like they have a story to tell.
But sometimes you don’t need your journalistic nose to find the best story: for example when a person just runs right past you, without trousers.
It still takes that awareness to take a snapshot at the right moment.