What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Warning: Locker Room Humor

The day after Thanksgiving, I made the mistake of looking in the mirror right after my shower. I did not like what I saw. In that moment, I realized something that almost every American realizes sooner or later: I was fat.

So I did what every American does sooner or later: I joined a gym. I got a trainer who made me feel like I was going to start looking like an action hero within a few weeks, and I hit the machines hard. Then, for the first time in my life, I went to the men's locker room to clean off.

The moment I stepped into the locker room, I turned around and went right back outside. Then I sat down on a bench and caught my breath. There's no delicate way to put this, but there were people in all various states of undress in that locker room, a fact which had caught me totally by surprise. They were mostly fat people, too! I thought this over for awhile. Finally, I decided that this was the way things were done, and that social norm didn't require clothing in the locker room. I took a deep breath and held it. Then I went back inside.

I kept my eyes pointed straight ahead and avoided eye contact. I made a beeline to the most obscure, sheltered locker I could find. I forced myself to remove every article of clothing, and I walked across the open space to the shower and cleaned up. I nearly passed out in shame. This was so wrong. I could feel everyone staring at my fat exposed self. Long before the shampoo was rinsed out, I dashed back to the locker, pulled my sweaty clothes over my soaked self, and sprinted to the car.

It was with total foreboding that I showed up at the gym the next day. The workout went fine, but my brain was working overtime trying to come up with a plan of action. Finally, I settled on one. I confidently strode into the locker room, eyes fixed on my corner locker. I made my way over and disrobed, but this time, I was careful to keep a white gym towel wrapped around my waist. This was working great, I thought. Still careful to avoid looking at people, I marched over to the shower. It was then that I realized the flaw with my plan. I would need to drop the towel in order to shower, and the shower had six spickets. There was no privacy here!

There was no turning back. I clenched my eyes shut, grit my teeth, and dropped the robe. Then I marched into the shower and collided with a naked fat man. I nearly died. I ran, screaming, to my locker, pulled my pants on, and raced back to the safety of my car.

This was not going to work, I realized. So, on the third day, I took the final step. I went into the locker room, opened my gym bag, and produced a full, large, white terry-cloth bathrobe. I removed my shirt, donned the robe, removed the rest of my clothing, tied the robe, and marched straight into the shower. I cleaned without removing the robe. Then I returned to the locker, dressed, squeezed out the robe, returned it to the gym bag, and marched out, with a dozen pairs of eyes belonging to fat naked men watching me go.

I know I stand out. But it's really the only way I can keep my sanity. When blending in means losing my modesty, well, that's where I draw the line. Maybe I am conspicuous. But I'm keeping the robe, thank you very much.


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