It all started innocently enough. Pop upstairs and look at some holiday snaps, they said. We took some great photies in Thailand, they promised.
It was all going swimmingly? until that photo. The holiday snap that was worth more than a thousand words.
My body performs a minor jolt and whilst keeping a straight line of sight I scan my peripheral vision and check on the status of the others in the room.
Captain?s Log: ?Despite having the sudden shock of full frontal male nudity thrust upon an atmosphere of civility and decorum, the others appear unaffected. I find myself in a state of extreme discomfort fused with immobility.?
?Looks like I got a bit excited there,? mumbles Tom at a barely audible level.
My wife says nothing. Tom?s partner says nothing. Just a heavy, expansive nothing.
And then... sweet release.
The slideshow moves on and Tom?s naked form is replaced by a fully-clothed man riding a bicycle. A bicycle in Thailand. Thank God for clothes and bicycles in Thailand. And temples. And beaches. And trees. Yes, trees on beaches. This is just fine.
I relax back into the couch and we continue watching their gloriously uneventful holiday photos flick past on the TV.
Boy, Tom took a lot of pictures! I didn?t know there were so many temples in Thailand. And bicycles. And, yes, beaches.
The private swimming pool at their lodge looks quite lovely. It is one of those pools with an infinity edge that just disappears over the horizon. If you look at it from a low angle you can pretend the world is flat and that you have trekked all the way to the edge and with one small lunge could leap over into the never-ending abyss.
Well, you could do that except Tom?s wife is lying on the edge. Then Tom is lying on the edge. My, they do like that infinity edge. On and on and on. Pose after pose. Pixel after pixel of sun-tanned skin flecked with water droplets. Bodies half-submerged, a bit submerged or not submerged at all. Where is this shoot heading I wonder? And then I remember that image.
Captains Log: ?The atmosphere is charged with tension. As we continue on this journey the potential for further exposure seems inevitable. We must be strong. We must be vigilant. We must think of an excuse to leave immediately.?
Success! The shoot was PG-rated and, despite feeling like a judge on an amateur model shoot, exposure was minimal. We?re in a safe place and there is nothing to see here.
Except for his arse. So he sleeps naked, that?s okay. Nothing too shocking about a half-covered naked male arse. And his chest. I?ve seen male chests. Not that many sprawled on a bed, though. And not that many so devoid of hair and with?
Oh god. Those are breasts.
And then more breasts.
Captains Log: ?System overload! We must abort! We must abort! Can?t... seem? to? abort!?
?Mark! Don?t look!?
I look away ? or my wife?s hand manually twists my head ? and see Tom?s wife squirming with embarrassment. I try desperately to keep eye contact and express how totally okay I am with all this and how there is nothing to be embarrassed about. However, this only emerges as a pubescent schoolboy giggle accompanied by some inane wittering.
As my wife and I leave, I continue to make feeble compensations for the experience and make upbeat garbled comments about Thailand holidays being naturally liberating, and how getting naked sure means you had a great time.
I open our downstairs door and initiate a post-match analysis with my wife.
?I can?t believe we saw them both naked!? I say.
?Yes, Tom first then??
?I didn?t see Tom naked!?
Captains Log: ?Unsure of tone of subject?s response. Discontinuing this log as the voyage is has taken a strange ? and potentially dangerous ? course.?