Thursday, February 23, 2006

Not-So-Irrational Fear Thursday: Eeek! Naked Biker Guys!

Yesterday was a big and fun day for a variety of reasons. First, I wore a new shirt that the GF and I picked up shopping before she left last weekend. It was one that I actually had picked out myself but more significant was that it was the first shirt I have ever worn* that requires cuff links. I have to admit that I was feeling pretty good about myself. In the last year or so I've started to develop a reputation for being a snappy dresser. I'm not really sure what that means. But I think the implication is that the previous 30 years were spent offending the fashion sensibilities of everyone within eyeshot. For that, world, I apologize.

After a pretty productive day at work, I returned to a place where my feet had not tread in about 4-5 months - the gym. It was more or less the same as it was when I was last there, but there were some things that were a little different. For instance, I noticed a lot of people were wearing braces. Not orthodonture - but rather braces to help support ankles, knees, elbows, groins, you name it. There were braces of every imaginable design, used to support every imaginable body part** and they were everywhere. As I sat on the leg press machine, trying desperately to remember how it worked while trying to stave off panic that I was the only person there not wearing a brace, I realized that I was probably suffering from brace envy. Each person there wearing a brace was essentially saying to the world "I work out so hard that I hurt myself! Fear me!". And I *was* afraid - the feeling of being "less than" was pretty powerful.

At that point, I decided that the next time I go into the gym, I would wear the full set of braces, two knee braces, two ankle braces, two elbow braces, a neck brace, and the full-body Milwaukee brace - typically used to treat scoliosis***. Then I would work through my entire routine without skipping a beat. Think of the respect I'd get from all the baseball-cap wearing high school boys doing nothing but bench presses, high school girls desperately trying to snag one of said boys in time for prom****, and the 78 year old guy who is there every day and who could rip my arms out of my sockets with his bare hands. Giddy with anticipation for my budding plan, I did about a mile on the treadmill before heading down to the locker room to shower and get dressed.

That's when it happened - every man's nightmare. Returning from my shower all fresh, basking in the afterglow of a good workout, I saw a guy getting naked at the locker *right next* to mine. Now, you ladies might not see anything weird about that, but what you have to remember is that men are different from women at the gym. We don't spend hours giving each other long naked massages after a workout, laughing giddily as you model your new lingerie or start spontaneous tickle fights. Instead, we spend most of our time avoiding eye contact and trying desperately to maintain a "no fly zone" of at least 5 feet from our fellow man. So here I was facing the nightmare scenario of not only having a nekkid guy right next to my locker, but he was covered in tattoos, including a "Harley Davidson" in the small of his back*****. But by this point he had seen me just standing there, so I walked over slowly, trying not to provoke a response.

Being the nice, upper-midwestern guy that I am I made some witty comment that he responded to with another pithy remark about "ain't this how it always is". As he headed off to the showers I said cheerily, "Don't worry, I'll be gone by the time you get back".

"Yeah, I bet you will." was the response.

Crap. Did something I said inadvertently come off as making a pass? I frantically replayed the conversation in my head, but couldn't recall anything certain. Had I just been mistaken for an overly friendly gay man and threatened with violence? Surely he would notice that I was straight as soon as I got dressed...

...Oh crap. The cuff links!

I was dressed and out of the gym in about three minutes. Paranoia never hurt anyone.

*Note, not the first shirt I've ever owned that needs one. I have a nice white shirt that uses them but it's more of a shirt to wear with a suit than on its own. At least not during the winter.
** Isn't "sports bra" just another word for "boob brace"?
*** This is not making fun of scoliosis patients. I had a mild case in elementary school, which I blame for my twisted sense of humor. I just really wanted to work in a picture of "Scoliosis Barbie". Who even knew they made one?
**** Way to go girls...aim high.
***** Speaking of which, am I the only one who thought only girls got tattoos there?

5 comments:

J.Bro said...

In an effort, I think, to reduce the number of guys that have to stand naked next to one another, just doubled the number of lockers in the locker room...except they did it by cutting all the 7'-tall lockers in half! Yes, now there are twice as many lockers, but now everyone has to wonder whether they're going to end up in a simultaneous naked double-decker!

Also, I'm surprised GF hasn't ruined this for you (or maybe she has and you're in denial), but apparently there's far less nude prancing in the women's locker room than I (we) thought. And the nude prancing that goes on, according to my wife, often goes hand in hand with the attitudes you might find at www.bigfatblog.com

Spice said...

Yes, my reaction was "Hey, I think women are similarly uncomfortable with the nakedness in the locker room!" At least, we definitely try to avoid standing right next to someone. Last week sometime I had a very similar situation as the one you describe, except that our conversation went like this:

Me: "Excuse me." [gesturing at my locker while fully clothed in workout wear]
Undergrad: "Oh!" [freaking out even though wearing a swimsuit]

However, it seems to me that the middle-aged and older are much more comfortable with the casual walking/lounging about nude. I guess you just stop caring.

P.S. I would like to point out that J.Po is blogging once again - just in case you stopped checking her site during her recent hiatus.

The Phoenix said...

Old, wrinkled, nasty nekkid guys prancing about is the main reason I avoid the gym.

That, and I'm pretty lazy.

grrrbear said...

Oh you crazy kids. You've bought into their lies J.Bro! Of course they are all going to deny it, if they didn't they'd have to spend all their time checking ventilation shafts for interlopers and searching for hidden cameras stashed in there by the night cleaning crew.

You must keep the faith! If you don't then the Great Pumkin won't come...

jungle jane said...

oh man it must be Naked In the Shower week - i just wrote about the same horrifying subject matter.

its just as bad in the women's showers - check my blog out for a the full horror - and even worse is outside the shower. I think that ladies SHOULD NOT bend over naked to dry their feet and PLEASE dry your vagina quickly. no need to linger.

shudder...

After all, Elmo seems equally disinterested in both...

I have a hard time believing that Elmo was traumatized by Katy Perry's decollatage after discovering that he had already "been arou...