I do this to break down any illusions our women readers may have about these places. I don’t know if women actually have any illusions about men’s locker rooms, but as a semi-typical male, I can assure you we guys had plenty of illusions about women’s locker rooms. In my case, most of them came from a junior high school viewing of the movie “Stripes”, featuring a shower-style scene with a peeping John Larroquette and the then-mysterious line, “I wish I was a loofah.”
I have no independent information to work with, but I’ve come to accept the notion that this may have been an exaggerated image. Judging from the stuff out there on the Internet, a lot of guys haven’t yet figured that out, but that’s a topic for a different post.
Anyway, I don’t remember seeing any movies with a parallel view of men’s locker rooms, but just in case there are any women readers out there with a similarly romanticized (whatever) notion, let’s take a peek (again, figuatively):
My first real experience with locker rooms was in high school. I don’t really remember changing clothes before or after gym class, but I assume we must have. I’m sure we didn’t shower. The Atacama Desert had seen water more recently than the showers in the guys’ locker room. I’m glad I didn’t have to sit next to myself in 11th grade Anatomy & Physiology.
Three years of college baseball led to quite a bit of time in the men’s locker room in college. The coolest part of this experience was dropping my practice clothes off at the equipment room and having them appear – as if by magic – clean a day later. The least cool part of the experience was on Saturday mornings, when the locker rooms were used both by the baseball team and by grade school wrestlers. We ballplayers put on our uniforms to get ready. The grade school wrestlers got ready by, um, reducing their way down to their weight class. The stalls didn’t have doors. The baseball players got dressed in a hurry.
But paying to go to a real-live adult health club, I spend a little more time in the locker room, which exposes me to… the dreaded Locker Room Conversation.
At my health club, the conversation varies, depending on the time you’re there. My pick for worst time to spend in the men’s locker room is the 4:30-6:00 pm range on weekdays. During that time, the locker room is populated by guys who have just gotten done with work – guys who have spent an entire day being griped at by their customers, ignored by their co-workers, and fielding requests from their bosses. So a trip to the locker room allows them a rare platform from which to pontificate. The topics range from real estate transactions they’ve accomplished all the way to real estate transactions they’d like to accomplish. Sometimes, they’ll branch out and discuss real estate transactions they’d like to accomplish, if only their wives would let them. There must be some hormone which causes men to discuss real estate with each other, once they’re naked. I’m deficient in this hormone.
I’ve been going to the gym before work. At 7:30 am, the few guys that are there are apparently devoting nearly all of their mental energy to putting their shoes on the correct feet. You can literally hear the same three guys discuss the weather in exactly the same way four days in a row. (“Man… that’s some wind out there, uh?” “Damn garbage cans blew across my yard last night…”) I’m no more interested in this stuff than in real estate, but I at least feel confident enough to grunt appreciatively if anyone directs a weather comment at me.
But this morning, I was exposed (har) to an all-new locker room conversation genre, which we’ll call “The Hot Tub Public Affairs Shout”. The whirlpool at my health club is located within the locker room complex. So this morning, as I researched the washing instructions for my ankle brace, I listened to two guys who had apparently decided the hot tub was a perfect location for their own spin on “Meet the Press”:
Guy #1: SO YOU KNOW THE WOMAN WHO SAID SHE FOUND THE FINGER IN THAT BOWL OF CHILI AT WENDY’S?
Guy #2: OH YEAH, I HEARD THEY ARRESTED HER.
Guy #1: YEAH, BUT YOU KNOW, THEY NEVER FOUND THE FINGER.
Guy #2: I THOUGHT THEY SAID SHE SWALLOWED THE FINGER…
At that point, I got wrapped up in the washing instructions (“Hand wash. Air dry for 60 min.”), so I didn’t hear how the finger converstaion resolved itself.
But I hope I’ve provided a (figurative) window into the world of men’s locker rooms. If not, at least I may have provided a great idea for a new Sunday morning talk show.