Shirt-Cockers: How to Freak Out the Freaks in One Easy Step

I’d like to state for the record that I wouldn’t sentence the worst child-raping serial killer to be placed on a desert playa in the middle of summer, but as a collection of some of my more interesting and adventuresome friends have found a transformative experience in the whole Burning Man thing that brings them back year after year, I’ll just have to acquiesce to their masochistic wisdom in these matters, and they have to understand that I hate camping even in places of great wooded and snow-capped mountain majesty, much less a burnt cinder backdrop of Mad Max desert Armageddon. That being said, as they go off again to wallow in the dust, the blood and the beer, I’m left to ponder the great joy that must come with being what is perceived by the naked free peoples of that temporary great desert community a pariah in their midst, the dreaded Shirt-Cocker.

Several months back, I was at little cocktail and bonfire dust-up at the home of Ron and Paulah, two veteran Burners, when the subject of this year’s coming Burn was brought up. They insisted I should go; as usual, I graciously declined. Gathered in their back yard around the roaring wood fire in the middle of a spent and removed metal washing machine bin (genius idea), their fellow Burner camp compatriot “Batz” interjected that he couldn’t wait for the Burn this year to go do some “quality Shirt-Cocking.” Not being an initiate into their sub-culture, I had to have this explained to me, and when they did, and when I thought about it, I saw that it was devious, simple and brilliant.

In short (hopefully not too short), a shirt-cocker is merely a person that has taken their pants off but left their shirt on. They’re only naked from the waist down. This is a huge faux pas at Burning Man (just Google the phrase and see). Basically, pants and no shirt are great. Shirt and no pants are bad. At first, I didn’t get it; why would naked people at a clothing optional get together care if some dude wasn’t wearing any pants? Isn’t that the point? Let’s all get together, get naked, paint our bodies in swirly day glow patterns and be freeeeeeee. But, said shirt-cocker is not totally naked. There’s a shirt still on him that acts almost as a backdrop or raised curtain at a stage production with his cock as the droopy star of the show. Plus, when you think about it long enough, you can kind of see why this would be creepy. If you’ve ever to been to party where people get drunk enough to get naked (there’s usually a pool somewhere and lots of sunshine), the creepiest guy in a group of a few naked people and a few non-naked people is usually the guy who just drops his pants but leaves the shirt on. I’ve seen this scenario unfold several times, and this is usually the guy that drunkenly oversteps his bounds with one of the naked ladies and is either getting his ass kicked or just unceremoniously ejected from the house by a couple of naked guys, with his pants being thrown at him on the lawn . . . what the poor neighbors in that hood must have thought.

Whether it’s the disturbing guy at the naked party, or visions of your drunk uncle/daddy come back from the bar in the middle night and standing in your doorway with no pants on, one shirt-cocking dude is kind of creepy, but when you put them in small groups with an agenda to freak out the freaks, now that’s a party. The thing with shirt-cocking is that in a large group like this, whether the guy shirt-cocking is just some lone hippy pervert, high on mushrooms, acid, and/or ecstasy who wants to give everyone an uncomfortable waist-down naked hug, or some crew of delinquents with a noble agenda, it’s kind of hard to tell. If this wasn’t being held in a desert, I’d recommend they take it even further and go get nice three piece business suits then just cut holes in their crotches big enough to have their dick and balls hanging out. Then, these Suit-Cockers could be the next level of depravity aimed at terrorizing the cool kids.

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