I've seen it happening already: the premature revealing of skin not quite ready for the summer sun. Considering that the summer solstice isn't until June 21, shirtlessness is really, really hitting park paths and pedestrian thoroughfares early this year. But for me, the problem with all this skin isn't not being tan enough or exfoliated properly to be shirtless; it's about being shirtless at all.
In other words, unless you're near a body of water, put your shirt back on.
I'm not one to censor art -- hell, I have pictures of nude women in my home. And I am hardly one to ever step on someone's freedom of expression: By all means, wear whatever you want, wherever you want, whenever you want.
Except in the summer. There is something about warm weather that gives people the idea that going out in public sans shirt is appropriate -- but, frankly, it is not. Seeing you half-naked, dear stranger, is a treat that should be reserved for your partner, the mirror, and, when appropriate, the pools, lakes, reservoirs, kiddie pools and hot tubs of this state. Water World and the South Platte, too, are okay. And standing in your front yard with the hose on? That's up to your own discretion.
Living in Denver, we're lucky to escape the unbearable humidity that much of the country endures during summer months -- but that is part of why we should be extra diligent in keeping our shirts on. There is no need to parade down the Cherry Creek bike path in acid-washed cut-offs and big white Seinfeld-ish tennis shoes -- without a shirt. That place is already full of weirdos; why add some creepy half-naked dude on a mountain bike to the mix?
It isn't that I care about seeing your leathery, cereal-box figure accented by raisins for nipples blazing through Washington Park on rollerblades (though clearly, since this sad and gross sight is permanently burned into my memory, I'm already scarred for life). I just don't want to, and I think we live in a civilized enough society where your fellow park-going patrons shouldn't have to be exposed to such atrocities, either. And don't even get me started about sunburns -- sunburns, like tattoos, are a choice. If you can't prepare, don't go outside. It's pretty simple.
And women who jog in sports bras? Gross. Again, it's not that hot. It will never get that hot in Denver. There is no need to run anywhere shirtless, unless it's from your bed to the bathroom. (Which I even wear clothes to do, because I live in a commune with five people. Like a grownup.)
So, as we approach the season of outdoor music festivals (drunk people, you especially need to keep your shirts on; you are magnets for the sun), park parties, bike trails and, yes, restaurant patios, please remember to keep your shirt on. There are other people around who don't want to sit next to your back-ne and back hair while enjoying a sunny day in a public place.
There is one holy exception to this rule: next weekend's 42nd Annual CHUN People's Fair. Because chances are, if you're wandering around the festival of authentic Denver-ness sans shirt, it's likely that you're also enjoying a turkey leg in public. And half-nakedness and oversized meat products go hand in hand. Oh, and Denver PrideFest 2013 on June 15 and 16 is also a notable exclusion. But that goes without saying, because gay dudes can do whatever they want.
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