Who is Buck Naked?


By Michael Shores

Knock knock knock.
Orange Tree
“I’ll be right there!”  Damnit, she said she would give me 30 minutes.

I throw open the door to the bathroom and start down stairs.  My hair is not even dry yet.  Wait!  I can’t open the door like this, I’m buck-naked!  Spinning on the second step, I hurry to my closet. 

“Were you in the shower?” she asked as I opened the door.

Dashing upstairs, I dress in record time.  Shoes, keys, and underwear ready to go.  Grabbing my wallet I pause just a moment.  My mind enlivens with new questions. Who is Buck Naked?  Is there a Buck Naked? Am I Buck Naked? 
 
The next day I go to the Internet.  The first results return dictionary entries from Random House and Wikipedia.  The leading etymology says that buck-naked is a cleaned up version of the slang phrase butt naked, i.e. the state of the human body completely without cover, usually pertaining to clothing.  I clarify here because we generally think of ourselves as naked even when covered by a towel or sheet.  Buck may have been the word of choice given it shares bu with butt, but finishes along the lines of stark, which we often use along with naked.  Alright, fair enough.
 

"It did not take long for in the buff to refer to nakedness"

Writer Michael Quinion argues that the lexicological meaning lies closer to buff, not butt.  Derived from the Asiatic wild ox or water buffalo (not the North American bison), the word buff described the color of a tanned buffalo hide.  Many began to refer to soldiers as in the buff referencing the hides used to make their uniforms.  With the similarity in color of a tanned hide and a bare human body, it did not take long for in the buff to refer to nakedness.  Buck may serve a similar derivation from buckskin.  Quinion’s article may sound a bit funny, but the use of tan for leather and for human skin can be no coincidence.  Just for curiosity sake, to buff comes from the use of buffalo leather for polishing and to be in buff shape surely derives from the look of soldiers in their buff uniforms.  Who would have thought?
 
Moving on, the next stop in search of Buck Naked is a short article about the health benefits of nudity.  Don’t get too excited, clinical testing can show little physical benefit to nudity outside of the production of vitamin D by our skin.  There may be some stress relieving or psychological benefits.  Interesting enough, but who is Buck Naked the man?  What lies behind all the word play?  He has yet to be seen.  I have to strip the etymological covers and shed the shrouds of lexicological contrivance. 
 
I find a movie titled “Buck Naked”. Awesome! Maybe it’s a biographical documentary!  What is the likelihood that I could set out on a bogus quest, blatantly ripping myself off (Who is Willis Stronger?) and there is actually a person worthy of a documentary?  The answer is none.  The flick tells the story of five college seniors who stage a male strip show to raise money for an apartment.  The antics ensue, or so I am told. 

"When the patient
is clothed and the doctor is naked..."

The movie may be almost as funny as the dancing “Let’s Get Buck Naked and _____” e-card I found (direct quote).  A series of animals caught in the act adorn the spread of the card.  A holiday favorite, I’m sure…
 
There are numerous articles ala “The Buck Naked Truth About…” Still others use the phrase buck naked, but none mention a person.  I will probably never go to a tanning salon, let alone Buck Naked Tan in Fayetteville, North Carolina.  I did enjoy the “my child asked me if buck naked or butt naked is correct and I don’t know the answer” message post from a lost parent. 

Orange Tree 2
There is a buck-naked t-shirt, and a song from Terry Allen’s “Human Remains” album of the same title.
 
Running naked down the state highway
Runnin naked in the middle of the day
Runnin naked like a tom cat’s behind
Runnin naked but the cat don’t seem to mind 
 
Weary yet determined, I strike gold in a Congressional bill posed by Congressman Pete Stark. If passed, the bill would limit a doctor’s ability to demand additional private contract money when the patient is in an exposed condition. 

Bill HR 2784 of the 105th Congress: 
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the "No Private Contracts to be Negotiated when the Patient is Buck Naked Act of 1997".

Listed in section three, the bill prohibits negotiating and signing private contracts when “the patient is buck naked and the doctor is fully clothed; [when] the patient is fully clothed and the doctor is naked; [if] the patient is wearing one of those short, flimsy little hospital gowns that don't close in the back; [if] at any time the patient's legs are in a stirrup device; [and] at any other time that the Secretary determines that a normal human being would find it awkward to negotiate a contract with his or her physician.” 

My personal favorite is “in the middle of the administration of an enema (or the outcome of such administration)”.  God bless the spirit of democracy!
 
Here marks the end of my quest.  Surely there can be nothing better than to find a congressional bill from The United States Congress seeking to protect its citizens from the legal duress of signing a binding medical document while naked (note: by the time of vote, the bill was quite boring).  Sure, I could be disappointed. I would like to have found a solid answer to “Who is Buck Naked?” But I found so much more. Untold gems strewn about the sands of the Internet. Somewhere, somehow, I like to think of all of us as little Buck Naked.


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