Darrell Huckaby - On heavenly bodies - and one not so heavenly body

Have you looked at yourself nekkid lately? I did this morning, and let me tell you, it wasn't a pretty sight!

Now, I hope I didn't shock anyone with the term "nekkid," and I hope I didn't ruin anybody's breakfast by putting an image of yours truly in a state of undress in your head, but let's face it - it's a perfectly natural state. My lovely wife, Lisa, delivers babies for a living and birthed thousands and she has never once come home from the hospital raving about the cute little outfit a newborn came into the world wearing.

I realize there are some of you out there who might be more uncomfortable with the term "nekkid" than the actual condition it describes, so I feel compelled to address that word before I continue.

The late great Lewis Grizzard once explained the difference in "naked" and "nekkid" by stating that "naked" meant without clothes and "nekkid" meant being without clothes and being up to something. Now that's funny and it might have been true for the Moreland, but when I was growing up in Porterdale, the only word I ever heard anyone use to describe being sans clothes was the aforementioned term - nekkid. If a person was real nekkid they might put "buck" in front of it.

But we didn't talk about nudity in Porterdale and we didn't talk about nakedness. If someone did something in their birthday suit, they did it nekkid - and there wasn't anything particularly dirty about the word, either.

There were some old boys out in Porterdale, of course, who were always scheming to try and see a nekkid girl, but I doubt that they were ever successful. Oh, they saw plenty of pictures, I'm sure. There were lots of ways you could see pictures. If you were bold enough you could walk to town and visit the bus station and sneak a peek at the Playboy magazine centerfold. I never did that, though, because Mr. Gibson Holifield ran the meat market right beside the bus station and Gibson knew my mama and them. Sure as snuff is dusty, if I had slipped a peak at Miss November, Gib would have walked right in and caught me. My mama would have known about it before I got home and I'd be cutting a switch before you could say "airbrushed photographs."

One kid we went to school with had an older brother who was in the army. That kid was the most popular boy in school because he had a deck of cards with pictures of nekkid girls that his brother had bought in San Francisco on his way home from Korea. There again, I was afraid to actually hold one of the cards in my hands and stare at it. I was afraid of getting caught by Miss Martha Ramsey, and if Miss Martha caught you doing something, not only would she call your mama - which meant another afternoon of hunting a switch - but she would also lecture you on how much your actions had disappointed Jesus, and I would have rather gotten a switching than disappoint Jesus.

We aren't allowed to use Jesus for behavior modification purposes in public schools anymore. Something to do with some Supreme Court decision, but I tell you this - school went a lot smoother back when we could.

Although I wouldn't actually hold one of the nekkid girl playing cards in my hand, I did look over Nippy Harcrowe's shoulder every chance I got while he held them in his hand. I'm not sure if Jesus was disappointed in me or not, but I do know that his daddy outdid himself when he created the Queen of Hearts on that deck of cards.

But we were not talking about nekkid women, we were talking about nekkid me. At least I was. You were trying to get that image out of your head.

Lest you think that I am about to pursue a career as a model for playing cards, let me explain.

I am of the generation that thought sunscreen was for sissies. Actually, that's not quite true. I was of the generation that had not even heard of sunscreen - but if we had heard of it, we would have thought it was for sissies. We played outside from dawn 'til past dark all summer, without benefit of shirt or shoes. We were all "brown as little Indians," as my mother was prone to say.

When we got in high school, we compounded the issue by basting ourselves with baby oil mixed with iodine and other such deadly concoctions before exposing ourselves to the hot Georgia sun. I compounded the issue even worse by working on a Scout waterfront for seven years as an adult. Once again, outside all day without benefit of a shirt - or sunscreen.

And now I am 56 and keep finding strange little spots all over my body. I am way behind on my visits to John Fountain, my friendly neighborhood dermatologist, and so, with summer coming decided I had better give him a call. But first I decided to examine myself for potential trouble.

My skin looked fine, but the rest of me? Well, let's just say that if I were a playing card, I'd be the two of clubs.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.