DEAR ABBY: While I don't disagree with your response to "Doin' What Comes Naturally," whose new neighbors objected to group nudity in their hot tub, the hostess could have handled the situation with more sensitivity.
Reading between the lines, I suspect that the hot tub dress/undress issues were raised for the first time at the gathering, which put the newcomers on the spot. Good hosts should never do that to their guests.
When the invitation was extended the hostess should have said, "By the way ..." and explained the situation. That way, the new neighbors could have expressed their discomfort privately, and the problem could have been avoided by keeping the hot tub covered on that occasion.
In my experience, people who are uncomfortable displaying their bodies in public are also uncomfortable with others being exposed. -- BASHFUL IN ORADELL, N.J.
DEAR BASHFUL: You're right. For some people, it's a moral issue; with others, it's simply insecurity about how they look. Also, a sizable number of people would rather leave to their imaginations that which they would prefer not to view in the light of harsh reality. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I was shocked and disappointed by your position regarding the "straightlaced" hot tub neighbors who didn't want to soak in the nude with the neighbors. What is this world coming to when a person of your stature condones nude hot-tubbing with neighbors? Enjoying the "therapeutic benefits" of soaking together in the nude -- unless it's husband and wife alone -- is a new low in moral behavior. -- HORRIFIED IN HARRISBURG
DEAR HORRIFIED: It's neither new nor necessarily low. I have never condemned nudity -- as long as it's on the up-and-up. And while I might hesitate to grin and bare it (all), scores of wholesome people from many cultures enjoy the naturalist way of life. Read on:
DEAR ABBY: My sister's pool parties (hot tub included) traditionally resulted in discarded bathing suits. Guests who were uninhibited frolicked in the waves. Those who were shy frolicked, too -- but with less exposure. The swimming usually started after dinner, after the barbecue, after sundown. When the first suit came off, those who were uncomfortable with the turn of events -- including our parents -- would call it a day. No one ever complained.
Unfortunately, my fiance is too shy, so I don't get to do what comes naturally anymore. Sign me ... ALL DRESSED UP, NOWHERE TO GO
DEAR ALL DRESSED: Different strokes for different folks! Read on:
DEAR ABBY: I am a 15-year-old reader who usually disagrees with your answers because I am a lifelong conservative.
After reading the letters in your column from "Sleep-Deprived in Schenectady" (who complained about the noisy upstairs neighbors' love-making) and "Doin' What Comes Naturally" about the naked hot tub parties, I discussed them with my family. We have a practical solution for "Sleep-Deprived": Buy a fan to cover the noise, then send the couple from upstairs to the hot tub party! -- CONSERVATIVE TEEN IN WASHINGTON
DEAR TEEN: I'm pleased that your conservatism hasn't curtailed your "liberal" sense of humor. You are a wit.
Dear Abby is written by Pauline Phillips and daughter Jeanne Phillips.
Good advice for everyone -- teens to seniors -- is in "The Anger in All of Us and How to Deal With It." To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $5 (U.S. funds only) to: Dear Abby, Anger Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)
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