Uncloth

@eva

Me and Mom are in the checkout lane at Spendco when the argument erupts behind us.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve,” says the loincloth geezer to the jeans and T-shirt millennial.

“Oh, yeah?” says the jeans and T-shirt millennial to the loincloth geezer.

“Yeah. It’s people like you who’re the reason we need to wear loincloths!”

“Because people like you hoarded all the loincloths!”

“Whippersnapper! We hoarded the loincloths because y’all dosequisvirus deniers were spreading around embers like nobody’s business, what with your fancy-schmancy designer jeans and ultra-flammable baseball caps!”

Since the PA’s down, the cashier cups his hands around his mouth and yells: “Security to register six! Code Gray! Security to register six! Code Gray!

Mom and I look at each other, arms crossed over our toplessness, apprehension in our eyes.

“What the heck is a Code Gray?” I ask her.

“Go stand over there while I finish paying,” Mom whispers into my ear, and gives my head a quick squirt with her spray bottle as she gently pushes me away from the general vicinity of the checkout lane.

I head toward the front of the store—and inadvertently find myself standing at this colorful booth sporting a giant banner that reads, “DOSVID-19: go naked, save lives.” And indeed, seated at the accompanying table is a bright-eyed, sun-kissed, bleach-blond beach chick wearing nothing but Boho braids and various assorted pieces of handmade bling.

She smiles prettily at me. “Why, hello there, sweetie!”

There’s all kinds of sheen-related crap spread out on the tabletop. Adjusting my non-existent undercarriage, I pick up a spray bottle with my free hand and pretend to be interested in its being neon pink. Really, I’m too embarrassed to simply turn and walk away, thereby admitting that I’ve made a grave error in exploring Spendco’s prow. “You have, uh, a nice collection here.”

Bleach-Blond Beach Chick leans back in her chair and stretches, seeming to revel in her nudity. “Why, thank you! Everything’s handmade by Milda’s of Portland, you know. Clothing may be restricted during the dosequisvirus epidemic, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still look fabulous! We have a gorgeous selection of DOSVID-19-compliant sarongs, necklaces, bracelets, waistlets, anklets, earrings and studs, headbands, armbands, spray bottles, butt doilies—oh, and the cutest flip-flops made from one-hundred-percent fair trade, ethically-sourced, USDA organic, flame-retardant materials! Spend fifty dollars, and ten-percent of your purchase will go to distributing spray bottles to needy schoolchildren in Mallomar Bay!”

I frown. “That’s nice and all, but exactly how does any of this help prevent or cure actual dosequisvirus?”

Bleach-Blond Beach Chick flashes her perfectly-white, perfectly-straight smile. “Traditional clothing harbors dangerous viruses and bacteria, not to mention rogue embers, food crumbs, deadly asbestos, bed bugs, and even pesky pocket goblins! County-approved apparel is fine, but at Milda’s, we think we can do even better by eliminating traditional clothes completely! By going naked, maintaining a healthy sheen, and practicing good social distancing habits, we can slow the spread! We’re all in this together, sweetie!”

Setting the spray bottle down, I cross my other arm over my chest and back slowly away from the booth.

We don’t need social distancing.

We’re already distant.

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