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how to sum up Tami Smithers?

I’ve been told several times that the final chapter of “Butterfly” was such a satisfying end to “The Unintentional Nudist” that it was a mistake to continue a few years later with “Tami Beethoven”. At the end of the story, when Tami is about to undergo the “cure” for her allergy (before the final twist) there are two passages that could have put a “CLOSED” stamp on the Tami saga. One is Tami’s soliloquy over the unconscious, drugged-up recovering body of Lorinda in Part 70.

“If you’ve come to apologize, or get her to drop the charges,” Celine said, “even if she was awake, you’d be taking a huge risk. You’re taking a huge risk anyway. You’re not supposed to be on campus and she’s sure to report you.” They looked at Lorinda’s regular breathing. “Not that she’ll wake up.”

“How is she doing?”

“She’s back at class but she’s always a little doped up. So she’s not quite her usual snotnose self. And when she comes in at night, she takes the strong stuff. Tylenol IV.”

Tami suddenly noticed her dirty feet. “Oh sorry.” She tiptoed ridiculously to the doorway and rubbed her soles on the mat there.

When they got back to regarding the sleeping roommate, Celine said, “She’s out cold, Tam. She can’t hear us. You might as well go… Caroline has a car, she can take you home. We’ll sneak you down the back way so campus security won’t see you.” She picked up her bag and started to put on a sweater. “I have to go tutor someone now anyway.”

Tami thought for a moment. “Can I just sit with her?”

Celine shrugged. “You can stay if you want. Suit yourself. I’ll tell Caroline you’re here, if you need her. Room 309.”

As Celine was about to open the door she turned and pensively drank in the tanned form of one of the most beautiful female bodies in the world. Celine had the gift of eloquent speech and now she used it.

“Strange, isn’t it? By rights it’s she who should be apologizing to you, for all the abuse she heaped on you all that time. As her roommate I’ve seen more of it than anyone. Four years of constant teasing and humiliation, her seeing every inch of you, into the depths of your embarrassment, you having to look into her eyes as you went through all those unwanted orgasms as a freshman. And then the teasing and abuse went on and on, all through your undergrad lives, hers and yours. Tami, forced to be naked, freezing your bare butt off, teased; Lorinda, all protected by clothes and shoes, the tormentor.

“And now, at the very end, your graduating from this school, your career — all depends on whether she will forgive you.” Celine put on her knit cap and left.

Tami turned off the overhead light, leaving just the nightlight on. In the semi-darkness she sat down cross-legged on the fluffy rug. After a moment she looked up and said, “It’s just you and me now… Lorinda? Lorinda? Can you hear me?”

She bent forward as if to shake her awake, then changed her mind.

“Well if you can’t hear me, I can say anything, can’t I…”

She stretched her toes out and wiped a speck of mud off the third toe of her right foot. “Sorry for dirtying up your carpet… I gotta do my toes. I suppose it’s coming up on pedicure season for everyone, now. For me, it’s always pedicure season. I’ll stay with the plum… it goes well with snow.”

A little mordant grunt. “Weird. Wirklich, as they say in German. I’m in this dorm room surrounded by clothes and shoes. It sounds strange to talk about toes in the snow. But it’s my life. At least until tomorrow, when we do the big… status orgasmus project, and I get clothes again.” She shut her eyes and hugged her knees to her chest. “Clothes, clothes, clothes. I love being naked but it would be so good to be like everyone else. I remember in California, at that awful art gallery, when I was stretched out and freezing and Henry Ross –” a half- serious noise of spitting on the floor at the mention of this name — “he finally got me to confess that I wasn’t really a nudist, I was crying and panicky and freezing and shaking, and I begged him… I didn’t beg for clothes, I begged just to be normal. That’s what I am, really. A normal girl with a good heart, and I love and want to be loved in return. Just like anyone else.”

She stood up. “I’m not really a nudist, you know. It was all a pose. I was a phony. I went on a stupid streaking dare the first week and got caught. I told security that nudity was my religion. The idea just popped into my head. It was a lie, I was being a coward. I was just a kid then. But then Jorgon, remember him, told me that if it was my religion then I had to follow it.” She laughed. “So now you know. Crazy, right? Like some sex story you read on the internet.”

She looked over at the long mirror that all dorm doors had on the inside. “Being naked is great though. Everyone should be that way. It’s like you feel everything, so much more. Once you get over the shame. Being clothed seems like living with a blindfold on. And you can pick up things, like the change of weather, tiny changes in temperature… I can even ‘smell’ girls’ perfume with my skin. Don’t ask me to explain it.” She cupped her breasts and looked down at her nipples. “I can even tell when people are thinking, sometimes. I’d hate to lose that. So after tomorrow, when I put on clothes, I’ll still be naked at home, on weekends, any chance I get.”

She looked at her reflection and playfully brought her arms up to a flexing-biceps pose. “Quite a bod, won’t you say? Look at my waist, it’s tiny! Every girl on campus wants this bod, most of the women professors too.” She turned this way and that. “I’m not modest at all about it. All that grounds crew work, and being out in the sun all the time…”

Now she put her arms down and looked at the sleeping girl. “I know you want this body too. I’ve seen you look at me, when you’re not ragging me. Well every little bit of me is out for all the world to see. Every bare toe, each nipple, my ‘private parts’ which aren’t private at all… no matter what the time of year. And not only that, but inside me too. Everyone knows what the inside of my — pussy — looks like. And the inside of my rectum.” She seemed to think a moment, then turned and got down on all fours, and spread her butt cheeks. “Don’t worry, I cleaned myself a while ago. Jeane keeps giving me flavored enemas, this one’s coconut, nice, right? Unhhh… See my ‘inner butthole’? A drawing class did it last year. It’s not gross at all. You stuck your finger in here once, remember? To feel my clenching? I was terribly shamed but I have to admit, those were some fierce orgasms. Jen’s tongue is amazing.”

She stood up again and spread her lower lips. Her clit jumped up and down. “Hi hi!” She giggled, her clit laughing too. “Weird again. I talk about my daily life and in this room it sounds weird. Like I’m an alien. Maybe I am… The only naked person on the planet.”

Tami drifted toward Celine’s desk and looked out at the stars. “Sometimes I imagine I’m from somewhere else. Like there’s a bunch of people who see me and read about me, like I’m a character in a story. A story board. Where girls are stripped naked. And there’s other girls. I’m not the first, or the most popular. Maybe not the best written, but I am surely the nakedest. And the story goes on and on.

“I was stripped so long ago, been naked so long… And I imagine people out there saying my story’s run its course. But I have to keep on living. That’s what they don’t understand. They can turn away from my story and go on with their lives… But what about my life? I have to still get up every morning, naked, and make my way through the world, naked…

“Sometimes I want to say to those people who read about me: I’m in your head forever. You read about me going across the country without any clothes or money or stuff, just my bare body and my wits, and I’m still journeying. Look around. Behind that bush, there’s a naked girl looking at you. Under that bridge, there’s a naked girl looking up at you. Behind that tree. Under those stairs. Behind that garage. Splashing across that river. No, that wasn’t a dream. That was Tami, naked, desperately searching for clothes, hoping you’ll give her some.

“A naked girl in a world of the clothed. I feel, like, so alone, unique. And you know… people keep telling me how strong I am, all the things I’ve been through, physically, mentally, how all those things were done to me and I didn’t crack… how I’m like a super-girl. . .”

She shook her head and stood up straight, her breasts stuck out. “They’re right, dammit! I am a super-girl! Who could have gone through all that! I went through hell, I walked naked through blizzards, I made my way naked across the country, hiding from the police, I had…” She bent over, clutching her stomach. “I wouldn’t let those pony farm people hurt my parents even though that horrid tail thing inside me was banging my ovaries. God, that’s the worst pain I ever felt in my life.” She stood up again. “I am incredibly strong. It’s just the truth.

“But…” Her shoulders slumped. “I don’t want to be a super-girl. When people tell me how strong I am, they set me apart. It’s a way of being lonely. I want to be a regular girl like everyone else, who wears clothes… I just want to be normal.

“Thank God I have Rod, and my friends, and my family.” She looked down at the tattoo on her toe — I BELONG TO ROD. “Rod, he’s my anchor. I am so lucky to have him. He feels like he’s inadequate, not as strong as me. But think of how he must feel, walking next to me, with everyone looking at this naked white girl next to him. Thinking he’s a pimp? Or something. Not being able to know how in love he really is. It’s been as nerve- wracking for him as it was for me, I can feel it,” she said, looking down at her nipples. “Sticking with me takes courage.

“And a strong tongue.” She laughed. “Finally I got to give something back to him. I gave him multiple orgasms last night. It’s possible for guys, you know.”

She knelt down next to the sleeping girl. “People want to know what it feels like, to be naked all the time, have orgasms in public and carry on conversations while my body is jerking like a marionette on someone’s tongue. Well I’ll tell you. I feel like I’m turned inside out and everyone can see my guts and and secret inner self… And… it’s really not so bad. I was stripped naked in every way you could think of. But I got back a lot more than what was taken from me. A lot more.”

She stood up and looked at herself in the mirror, and fluffed her pubic hair. “And I’m not really naked. My hair is my clothes. And it’s all over me. Most of me has tiny, tiny hairs if you look close enough. I’m a beautiful animal. It’s my natural fur.” She fluffed the hair on her head, fluffed her pubic hair again. “I love my clothes.”

A loud snore from Lorinda gave Tami a start. Without waking, the sleeping girl turned. In a moment her breathing was as low and regular as before.

“It’s the most wonderful feeling. To come, and come… loud and heavy and… Since I’ve been, like, abstaining, the last two weeks, I’ve obsessed on the topic of orgasms. I’ve done a lot of reading on it. There’s so much about sex that the average girl doesn’t know. A lot of it is spiritual stuff. I’m not like that. I like my orgasms to be physical. The all-body spasms, jerking right through me, the pounding in my veins, the scream of pure ecstacy. Yes, yes, YES!!” She clutched herself, knees shaking, having awakened the sexual urge that she had been trying to suppress.

“GOD I’m horny… Tomorrow’s the big day. Finally my friends’ll make me come again. On and on. And then… clothes!”

With a sudden look she turned to Lorinda. “You don’t know, do you? It just struck me. You’ve never had an orgasm in your life. That explains a lot. That’s the real reason you went to that workshop with me and Jen and Ms. Congi. You’re jealous, aren’t you? I saw that look of yours. A few weeks ago, my friends were licking me in the library and you passed by with Celine. I was going into my spasms, Rosaria was licking my… vagina, Jeane was sucking my toes, Barbara was sticking her finger into my butt and sucking on a nipple, man oh man she likes to bite… and as I crested and my eyes got back into focus, I saw you glance at me. You were jealous. No wonder. I’ve gotten so much more pleasure than you can ever imagine.

“That was a long, long come. I thought it would never stop. People passed by, I think I said hi to Trent, and the waves just kept on and on. I remember all my comes, really well. . . That one was the twelfth of the day… Twelfth…”

The naked girl’s face went slack and she stared at the window.

“Thirty-four thousand, seven hundred sixteen.”

She blinked and her eyes got wet. “Ever since that first one, with that knob up my butt, in Lab 6, Dr. Harridance checking it off on his clipboard… I’ve counted every damn one. Thirty-four thousand, seven hundred sixteen.” She shut her eyes. “Damn it!! Why do I have to be so good with numbers! I can’t help counting. Every single — come — I’ve had, in the back of my mind I count it! Every damn one for three and a half years!” She shook her head. “No matter how close I feel to Rod, no matter how… great… explosive each one is, reaching deep into my… soul… in the back of my mind I count! Like that damn scoreboard thing in Lab 6!” Now hands went up to eyes as if to block out a horrible sight. “I want to wipe it out, forget about it… but I just can’t ever stop it. It’s in the marrow of my bones, that deep secret place where no one can ever go but me, but in that secret place, there’s Mr. McMasters and those assistants and those damn giant dildos pumping into me… and I have to look them in the eye each time!!! Ross! I hate Henry Ross!! But he’s always in that secret place!! Shouting at me, calling Rod a — a bad word… his face staring right into me… ohhh…”

Tami crumpled to the floor and sniffled, her hands still over her eyes, curled up into a fetal position, clutching her knees closed with her elbows, one foot over the other so that at least one set of bare toes would be covered. She sobbed sofly for a few moments. Then she was quiet. A few minutes went by, the naked girl curled up on the rug, Lorinda snoring in her drug- induced slumber before turning again and breathing silently.

Tami recovered, catching her breath. She uncurled and opened her eyes. “Sorry,” she muttered ridiculously to her unconscious audience.

She stood up, breasts heaving as she caught her breath, and faced Lorinda’s sleeping form.

“Lorinda, I just want to say I’m really sorry for what I did. I lost control, but that’s no excuse. I knew how strong I was and I came this close to killing you.” Tami held up her hand and put her thumb a half inch from her index finger and looked at it. “This… close…

“I don’t blame you if you don’t forgive me. But just think of me sometimes, OK? When you get the urge to feel mean to someone, when you get jealous of a girl who’s got a good body and you want to humiliate her by ripping her clothes off… just think of me.”

Tami went to the window and looked out. It was late now and the voices were fewer and quieter, the paths deserted. She opened the window and looked out at the campus. “Guess my time here is over. Or nearly so. It’s been a really long and wild ride. A naked ride, of course.” And then she flipped around and set her toes down on the brickface outside and was gone.

Then we have Rod’s musings, in Part 71.

It was like a segment of her life that was ending… Tami: The Naked Years. He would miss her…

Giving him a playful goodbye kiss, then taking the short way to campus, hopping through the woods like a rabbit, breasts bouncing, bare feet finding each stone and log, deceptively speedy, suddenly disappearing behind the thickets of leaves and bushes…

Her amazing capacity for alcohol. She was particular about her martinis. “I’m not allergic to vermouth, you know…”

The footraces she would always win at the annual charity carnival, scooting way past the competition on the quad on tough bare feet…

The public celebration of her glorious nudity, the “match Tami’s nipples” contest to benefit the local food bank, two tickets to a Red Sox game for the person who could find a scarf the same color as her areolas, a matter of weather forecasting as much as anything else as more sun meant tanner nipples, Tami proudly and smilingly holding up the winning scarf next to her nipples for the campus paper…

Tami convulsing from orgasm to orgasm as she cheerfully chatted with friends passing by in the library lounge, waving hi to professors, talking about classes and politics and “American Idol” in sentences punctuated by moans and gasps, as TL’s licked and sucked and noodled her from below, in front, behind… Laughing at jokes… Jeane’s boyfriend Mike expressed the campus consensus. “The sound of Tami coming and laughing at the same time is the happiest sound in the world.”

The refusal to take bullshit. That creep at the math major convocation making a crack about him being her pimp, and then getting all embarrassed and saying, “I’m sorry, Tami. I didn’t know he was your husband.” And Tami downing her martini and flicking a drop off her nipple and saying, “If he wasn’t, it would have been just as big a mistake. Apology NOT accepted…”

The occasional German phrase. “Mochtest du wein?” “Would you like some wine?” “Germany is such a totally naked-friendly country…”

The spunky Recording Secretary of the Student Government, standing up pluckily and nakedly in front of the monthly meetings, taking attendance, chiding those who were late…

The wild fashion ride of her sophomore year, her crotch the center of the campus’s attention, the riot of pubic hair dyes, shavings, braids, ribbons, stopped on the campus paths with legs widely and proudly spread as seemingly half the campus crowded around to compliment her… showing off her new toenail polish, her spread toes sparkling with snow…

The surprisingly good reception of his old neighbors in Roxbury when they took a chance and visited together. Having tea in that old house, that his mother really couldn’t take care of any more. The neighborhood had aged, it was still mostly black but all those folks were now old, and they cottoned to her (children of sharecroppers) and treated her like visiting royalty, old Mr. Granger and Mr. Madison and Mr. McCabe and their wives, who looked on tolerantly as the wizened old men politely but eagerly took in the doubly out of place whiteness of Tami’s magnificent nudity…

The bareness of her body next to the lab coats of everyone else, working closely with Gretchen on the new fabric that would be warm in the cold and breathe in the heat, for people like Joe and Roger, serving their country…

That Tami, the Tami who was soon no longer to be, would always be with him, would always be with everyone who met her. They would see visions of a naked girl for the rest of their lives, hiding behind buildings, lounging in streams, crouched on tree branches, darting through hallways, watching, bearing witness to misfortunate and evil and meanness and how simple loving bravery can win out…

Sorry for the extended quotations.

Writing a “summing up” scene to a long series is difficult and perhaps for that reason is rarely attempted. The best one I know of is this one from (what Earl Hamner thought would be) the series finale of “The Waltons”, where Hamner does an extended narration over Jason playing his graduate composition assignment. Even if you’re not a fan of the show you have to admit this is moving.

There is a story called “The Other Side of the Gym” which I mean to use as the absolute chronological finale for Tami. I’ve reserved a page on this site for it. I have it pretty much finished in my head but I haven’t “put pen to paper” yet.

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