A bachelor living in a highrise apartment who had just turned his bath water on and undressed one evening when the newspaper was delivered to his front door. Stepping out into the hallway to bring it in, stark naked, he became trapped outside when his door blew shut and locked.
[Nick Asbury, as quoted in The Independent, 1999]
A little touch of Harry in the night:"
So Shakespeare described
We had checked into a five-star hotel in Kuala Lumpur and then gone to drink the night away beneath the majesty of the Petronas Towers, the tallest buildings in the world. I caught a taxi back to the hotel at
Then I did something I have never done in my life: I went for a walk in my sleep. I awoke in the corridor, facing the wall, having a pee into a plant pot. I'd obviously missed the bathroom door. Thinking, "That's odd, never done that before," but still half asleep, I pottered back to my room. I really woke up when I turned the knob. The door had closed and locked automatically behind me. I was standing on the
I would have to go to reception and ask them to let me back in. I walked to the lift and pressed the button. But as the indicator approached my floor, I panicked. Reception was bigger than most shopping malls. For me to go striding manfully across it, trying to fix the sniggering receptionist squarely in the eye, with my "largesse universal" swinging in the breeze, was not only unthinkable, but probably a criminal offence.
I hid around the corner as the lift pinged open. I couldn't go in there. What if someone got in? ("Morning, er, just going for a walk. You mean you don't do that in Malaysia? Oh my God!") Besides, it was lined with mirrors. Anyone getting on would think they had stumbled into an orgy.
I toyed with using the plant pot, Clouseau-like, to guard what was left of my manhood. But that seemed too ridiculous and, anyway, the pot was full to the brim. Then, inspiration. A couple of the company also had rooms on this corridor. But which ones? There was roughly a 50-50 chance.
I cannot tell you the courage it took to hammer on what could be a complete stranger's door at
Worse still, what if a woman answered? The scream would wake the whole hotel. Everyone, including my colleagues, would see me in my shame being led off to have various appendages chopped off. And I know which one would be first.
To untold relief, I had chosen correctly. It was the room of David, a fellow actor. He opened the door. "Whaddya think you're
After a few questions to establish my true identity, and not a few questioning looks as to my attire, the assistant manager took me back upstairs and let me in, with me carefully ignoring, yet shielding, the plant pot in the corridor. I explained that I must have been sleepwalking (which is difficult to get over in the mixture of sign language and pidgin English we ridiculously use when abroad).
The show went well that week. But I'm sure on the opening night I saw a receptionist from the hotel in the audience, sniggering whenever I came on. One thing remains certain: someone on the
Origins: Folklorists have reported hearing "the locked-out nude" as far back as 1960. Very few things are more embarrassing to us than being caught in the buff, and though we laugh at stories like this one, our titters are of the nervous variety for we're all too aware we could easily be the (naked) butt of the hilarity.
In classic recountings of the locked-out man, he's at least left with something to clutch in front of him, thus sparing him the ultimate humiliation of
Some versions conclude in a wonderful fashion — they have the nude man attempt to climb a tree to regain access to his home via an open window. But of course he's spotted by the neighbors, who promptly call the police to report a naked weirdo on the loose.
Numerous folks have reported incidents of being stranded nude or nearly nude in public places. The entry for
Galbraith and Asbury are far from the only naked guests to have graced the hallways of various hotels — according to a 1994 study done by Novotel New York, a Manhatten hotel, that year
As for why so many nekkid travelers manage to put themselves into this embarrassing predicament, "It's first thing in the morning and guests are not fully awake," says Brian Reynolds, sales manager of the Swallow Hotel in Northampton, England. "They bend down to pick up their breakfast tray from outside - and bang." Sometimes guests become confused. "They are usually worse for wear," recalls Wendy Procter, resident manager at the Royal Moat House International in Nottingham. "They are looking for the loo and end up in the corridor. It sobers them up very quickly."
Guests will (and have!) use anything to cover their modesty; net curtains, tablecloths or even plant pots. Some hotels keep dressing gowns at reception or in the service cupboard on each floor for such eventualities. The Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Midland Hotel in Manchester will provide spare keys to any guests who suffer from sleep walking, to tie to their ankles.
Naked locked-out guests should attempt to locate an in-house phone to acquaint reception with the situation. (Such phones are most likely found near the elevator. Housekeeping's supply room on each floor also likely houses one.) If a phone can't be found, the undressed guest should remain in the corridor, where staff will come to the rescue. Never go to the reception desk. One naked guest at the Nottingham Moat House did just that in the early hours, thinking the lobby would be empty. When the elevator doors opened, he was greeted by
Though nudes are remarkably common in hotel settings (where doors are engineered to snap shut), they are far less likely in other venues, particularly private homes. Whereas a hotel has every reason to assume thoughtless guests will, if left to their own devices, leave the doors to their rooms hanging open, home owners have far more reason to trust their domicile's inhabitants. Locking doors are therefore not engineered to snap shut behind the departed.
It's still possible to get locked out of a private home, but usually this requires the help of another in the form of a playful spouse, rowdy friends, or just a toddler who pulls shut a door for whatever reason toddlers do most things.
On the homefront, another tale stars a naked man, but this time the audience comes to see him:
This is the best kitty story I've heard in a while.
A friend of mind says a friend of hers was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of a living room with a picture window covered with curtains. Kitty comes along and pisses on his head. The half-asleep enraged man picked up the cat, and without thinking, threw it at the window. Claws extended, kitty landed on the curtains and pulled them down, at which point
Sightings: The 1928 Russian novel Twelve Chairs made use of the locked-out nude legend. That story was turned into the 1970 Mel Brooks film of the same name. A 1987 Garfield strip also depicts the fate of a naked owner locked out by his vengeful cat. The 1987 film Roxanne features Daryl Hannah as a locked-out nude who turns to Steve Martin for help.
Last updated: 27 December 2004
Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Choking Doberman. New York: W. W. Norton, 1984. ISBN 0-393-30321-7 (pp. 220-221). Brunvand, Jan Harold. Too Good to Be True. New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. ISBN 0-393-04734-2 (pp. 147-149). Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Vanishing Hitchhiker. New York: W. W. Norton, 1981. ISBN 0-393-95169-3 (p. 138). Sloan, Gene. "Hotel Trivia." USA Today. 19 January 1994 (p. D1). The Daily Telegraph. "Travel: The Naked Truth About Hotel Doors." 10 April 1993 (p. 27). The [London] Independent. "Actor Nick Ashbury Got Caught Without His Costume During a Tour of Henry V." 21 February 1999 (p. 11). The Phoenix Gazette. "Excuse Me, May I Borrow a Towel?" 3 March 1993 (p. C1).
Also told in:
The Big Book of Urban Legends. New York: Paradox Press, 1994. ISBN 1-56389-165-4 (p. 142).