My Wife On a Pedestal

After 12 years of marriage, Kimberly decided she wanted to try nude modeling. Could this possibly end well?

SHE STEPS INTO THE ROOM WEARING an attractive yellow robe, cinched tightly at the waist. It’s not transparent, but it’s thin enough that I can detect subtle hints of movement underneath, and loose enough to catch glimpses of her bare skin. It clings to her in all the right spots: hips, chest, her fine rear end. She looks gorgeous.

Finally, my wife unties the robe, pulls it off, and places it on a chair. The move is brisk and confident—without a moment’s hesitation. There she stands, au naturel. I’ve been waiting for this all night. Well, me and the 15 complete strangers in the room…

“I want to be a nude model.”

Kimberly dropped that bomb on me last summer. We were driving down some bland, sunbaked highway on a thousand-mile road trip to Missouri for a vacation. Maybe she wanted to break the monotony of our drive by saying crazy things. Maybe she wanted to break the monotony of our marriage by trying crazy things. Either way, I figured I should tease out some details. She can be coy sometimes.

“You mean, you, uh…what?” I asked.

“I want to try nude figure modeling for art schools,” she said.

Can’t say I would have expected this from her. She’s no prude. She once streaked with a crowd in college (though it was a women’s college), and we did the nude-beach thing on St. John. But her most recent experience with public nudity, her bikini top popping off at the public pool, was mortifying for her. And she has no real art background, apart from a lifelong enthusiasm for it. So I had to ask, “Why?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. “I just like the idea of it. I finally feel really comfortable with my body, and this could be interesting.”

On one hand, why not? She looks great naked. Not Hollywood perfect, mind you, but perfectly shapely and sexy. On the other hand, what isn’t she telling me? Why is she, a 38-year-old mom with a meaningful career in social work and an already full schedule, having this urge? Not getting enough of the good stuff at home? I’m not a machine!

I didn’t think it wise to press her on her motivations this soon. So I simply asked if she really thought she had the raw nerve to pull it off—to actually show up, climb onto the platform, and let her robe slip to the floor.

“I think so,” she said, smiling.

I stared down the road ahead of us, and suddenly the idea—Kimberly donating her body to art—seemed like an off-ramp to adventure, a marvelous new twist to our world.

“Go for it,” I said.

SHE WAS HIRED BY A LOCAL ART SCHOOL—at $20 an hour—and immediately began preparing for her big debut. She found websites that offered advice about figure modeling, chatted with some area models for more insight, and started experimenting with different poses to see which ones she could sustain for 5, 10, or 20 minutes at a time—or even for several hours, as is sometimes required. I’d go down to the basement family room after putting our two little girls to bed, and there she’d be, stark naked with her arms raised toward the heavens, still as the Venus de Milo herself, watching Friday Night Lights. I’d settle on the couch to watch as well.

That became our routine on many late-summer nights. I never complained. I did occasionally wonder, however, whether my endorsement of this project was genuine, or if I was just buoyed along by the sheer novelty of it all. Perhaps I’d snap out of it at some point, panic, and wave her off. Was a “what were we thinking” moment looming?