I judged a man last night. I judged a man at my suburban gym who was shaving, in a towel, at 7 p.m., on a Tuesday night.
I’ve never been a locker room dweller. I rarely change and never shower in there. Sure, I work from home and can throw on a pair of shorts and a t-shirt, drive over to the gym, and then drive back. I know I’m in the minority. When I worked in an actual office, I of course changed at the gym like a normal person. But I wouldn’t shower. Unless you go to the gym before work or during lunch, you should never shower. You shower when you get home. If you’re thinking, yeah but I go to the gym before dates so I have a little bit of a swell, and therefore I have to shower because I don’t want to smell, I dislike you, partially because you just made a rhyme. Don’t go to the gym before going on a date. You’re an asshole if you prepare for a date in a bacteria-infested sweat box in front of naked old men. Read a book instead, so you actually have something to talk about other than your new egg and mango diet, meathead.
And that brings me back to the shaver.
It was too late for a weekday date. I thought that maybe he was heading into work or to somewhere important. But at 7 p.m. on a Tuesday, the chances of the latter were slim. He was 20 minutes away from getting out of there, factor in a 20-minute to wherever in the suburbs, and you’re looking at an 8 p.m. dinner, at best, on a Tuesday. I just don’t see it. And he didn’t look like someone who worked the night shift. People who work the night shift have a certain look, and this guy’s English soccer player appearance didn’t fit the image. He was probably an art director at a boutique marketing firm. So I judged him. I judged him for preferring to stand barefoot, shirtless, in a tiny towel, whilst enjoying the art of the shave like a 1950s barber talking about the post-war boom to a guy named Henry, instead of doing so in the comfort of his own damn home.
Anyway, as much as I judged the shaver, he doesn’t even make the list of the worst people you encounter in a men’s locker room at the gym. So here they are, ranked:
12) The Naked Old Manpic via The Oatmeal
When I solicited Twitter for help in crafting this list, not-surprisingly I received a bunch of responses about naked old men. We’ve all seen them, seen their wrinkly skin and old balls and had the stark realization that one day we, too, will have the ass skin of a poorly-raised chicken. No one likes the naked old man at the gym, but we’ve come to accept him, almost celebrate him, as an artifact from yesteryear. Back in the day, dudes were cool with being naked around each other. When I imagine old-timey conversations, I picture two guys sippin’ beers and sittin’ with their balls flopped over a stoop, talkin’ ‘bout “the block.” This probably isn’t an accurate view of life in simpler times, but it works for me. The point is, being naked is a generational thing. I used to think it was an age thing, but I’m 30 now, almost 31 – well into being an actual adult – and I still don’t feel even a little bit comfortable having a conversation with a naked man. Unless it’s Henrik Lundqvist or Chase Utley. I’d probably be OK having a naked conversation with Henrik Lundqvist or Chase Utley. But that’s it. No one else. Old people differ on this, and although we don’t have to like it, we’re going to have to put up with it for a few more years. It is what it is.
@CrossingBroad old dudes, fully naked, just hanging out, talking, standing around. So Creepy. I felt violated.
— dewey (@DewDew302) August 13, 2014
11) The Businessman
Comes into gym impeccably dressed at 6:45 p.m— tailored grey dress pants, tailored shirt, cufflinks, watch, styled but simple hair.
Gets changed, folding each clothing item neatly on BYO hangers and placing gently his watch on the top shelf of the locker with two soft hands as if he’s presenting a rare Earth gem to tribal peoples.
Catches a quick glimpse in the mirror.
Gets dressed in same work clothes for the drive home.
Adjusts cufflinks, re-styles hair, and loads up on cologne.
Walks out carrying his designer gym bag and checking his Galaxy S.
Gets into 1998 Toyota Tercel and calls his mom to tell her he’ll be late for dinner because he had to work late.
10) The TV Watcher
I’ve never understood the need to watch TV in the locker room, let alone sit on those Petri dish couches. The only time I ever sat on the couches in a locker room was one time at the Healthplex during the year or two the Sixers practiced there. I’ve written about this before, but I was tying my shoes, probably waiting for my Dad to finish his brief attempt at a racquetball career, and Rex Walters came and sat next to me. REX WALTERS! Allen Iverson stood back in the corner, where there was the entrance to the Sixers’ off-shoot locker room. I figured I had reached peak locker room couch-sitting slash TV-watching, and I was 13. It could only go downhill from there. Now I just walk by the couches and think about Rex Walters. I wonder whatever happened to Rex Walters? [I checked: He’s the head basketball coach at the University of San Francisco.]
9) The Employee
Why, man, MUST YOU RUN YOUR VACUUM, REPLACE THE SOAP, AND WINDEX THE MIRRORS AT THE PRECISE MOMENT I REMOVE MY PANTS? I have a wife to do that sort of ill-timed thing.
8) The Naked Black Guy
I don’t see skin color, but I do see things that are a 1:1, to-scale replicas of that giant Foucault pendulum at the Franklin Institute. Thanks, bro, but I know the Earth rotates, I don’t need your swinging dongulum knocking over dominos while I’m deodorizing to prove it. It … makes me feel inferior. Please put it away. It’s huge.
7) The Too Close for Comfort Guy
There’s no exact minimum distance how far away you should be when naked in front of other guys in the locker room (it’s situationally dependent), but you know too close when you see it. Or smell it. When one wrong step into your boxers could send you ass-first into a guy digging the socks out of his gym bag, you’re too close. When the guy next to you can feel the displaced air from the removal of your towel, you’re too close. When your cock is spelunking in someone else’s locker, you’re too close. Step away or wait until the area clears, but don’t be:
6) The Doing Shit Naked Guy
As frightful as the locker room may be, we all accept that we’re going to see some pretty nasty shit, but usually, the visuals are fleeting moments that come and go quickly. But there’s always someone who feels the need to do just one-too-many things while disrobed. Usually he flings his towel over his shoulder and then checks his phone, digs through his bag, brushes his teeth, looks in the mirror, picks a scab… all things that can be done with his cash and two prizes safely tucked away inside a towel or, preferably, pants.
@CrossingBroad saw a dude pounding a protein shake and eating a pb&j butt ass naked on the bench. Nuts flopped out on the bench and all.
— Kory (@xkj1985x) August 13, 2014
5) The Boss
Yours. Thankfully, I’ve never seen one of my bosses naked. The closest I came was sometime in 2008 or 2009 when my boss and I took an out-of-town client out for drinks. Lots of them. Too many of them. My boss offered me to crash in his hotel room at the Ritz (our company hosted an event in the city and hooked him up with the room), where there was a spare bed. We got back at around 3:30 a.m., and the next thing I knew it was 5 a.m. and he’s standing at the foot of my bed wearing nothing but tight black briefs asking if I want to go down to the gym with him. Um, nah, I think I’ll stay here with my pounding headache and seared retinas. But thanks.
Anyway, I’ve never showered with a boss. But I’m one of the lucky ones:
— Diego Ramos (@Diegoinphilly) August 13, 2014
4) The Roid Head
Interestingly, he’s never naked in the locker room, likely because his balls are now the size of organic peas. But you know when he’s in there. He stands in front of the mirror, pre- and post-swell, admiring, flexing, grunting, sipping his gallon container filled with a powdery orange liquid, and sometimes:
@CrossingBroad dudes helping other dudes shoot needles in their butts
— Greg Ondo (@Gondo09) August 13, 2014
@CrossingBroad Actually saw 2 guys shooting roids into each other's asses while naked. (No, not a gay gym either).
— Pantsasnapkins (@pantsasnapkins) August 13, 2014
@CrossingBroad two kids whispering in the stall "go ahead, just stick it in", don't worry turns out they were just talking about steroids
— PD (@paulCHECKSin) August 13, 2014
3) The Check Yo’self Guy
I’ll let friend of the site Doug describe this one for you:
Saw your tweet about a gym bathroom/locker room experience… This happened about 2 years ago:
[location redacted] I usually went to work out on my lunch and I was just getting out of the shower after an abbreviated 30 min workout when I saw a gentleman (maybe 65-70) walk up to the mirror/counter area wearing ONLY a purple blazer. This was like a solid plum color. He nonchalantly walks up to the counter, and grabs the hair dryer. I am thinking he is going to dry his slicked back gray hair… he does not. He lifts one leg up and plants his foot onto the counter, turns on the blow dryer and starts toasting his nuts dry. He didn’t look around and didn’t seem self conscious. This led me to believe that he has done this more than once. He continues for about 2-3 minutes- presumably until his seeds were warm and dry- shut off the dryer, and walked away, pants-less, back to his locker.
These lockers are NOT personal, nor is the hair dryer, or the friggin counter he planted his foot on. I was in there with about 5-8 other dudes. I left before the situation escalated (as if it could get any worse).
Some things will never leave you… this is my cross to bear.
@CrossingBroad The blow drying of pubic hair by an older gentleman with more hair down there than on his head
— Renz (@D_Renzi) August 13, 2014
@CrossingBroad overweight man, 60s, naked in front of the mirror, picking his sack up and inspecting it in the mirror. **
— J (@HayeZ_J) August 13, 2014
2) The Guy Who Towels Off for Too Long
Of all the guys I’ve mentioned so far, none of them would really be considered criminals. Weird? Probably. Self-absorbed? You bet. Situationally-unaware? Without question. But The Guy Who Drys Off for Too Long for may be truly nefarious.
It takes me approximately 12 seconds to adequately towel off when I’m at home. Maybe a few more if I really want to dry my hair. In a gym, however, on the rare occasion that I need to use the shower, that time is trimmed down to no more than four seconds. Face, armpits, grundel, legs. That’s it. The rest is on its own. You want to get the boxers on as quickly as possible. But not this guy. Not the the guy who towels off like he’s performing a ritualistic dance in the woods. No, no. For this guy, drying off is a form of expression. There are interpretive dancers less animated than him. You’re not sure if he’s just trying to be thorough or make it rain, but all you know is that it’s taking him way too long to dry his back. Minutes too long. Unlike most, who try to be at least somewhat discreet when toweling off, this guy wants to be seen. He needs to be seen. He wants to see you. His eyes find others and, like a horrifying version of the Mona Lisa, they never leave. Is he … smiling? Why is his back not dry yet? Can he at least turn around? This is making me uncomfortable. You just went to take a piss and wash your hands, and he’s still drying his back, gyrating into the towel. And then you realize, it’s Sunday, there aren’t many people there and you would’ve seen him working out. He didn’t even work out. HE DIDN’T EVEN SHOWER. He’s Magic Mike-ing the locker room and there’s nothing anyone can do about it. He may have to knock on your door when he moves into the neighborhood, but in the locker room, there are no rules. It’s his playground and you’re the seesaw. Run. FUCKING RUN.
1) The Sauna-Steam Room Guy
True story: I don’t often use the sauna at the local gym, but sometimes, if I have a particularly stressful day of sports blogging or if I’m trying to shake a cold, I’ll go in for a few to sweat it out. I don’t know if it actually works. Maybe it’s a placebo thing. Whatevs. Anyway, I’ll usually wear what I worked out in, sit on a towel, and then take my shirt off while I’m in there. You’re always venturing into the unknown when you enter the sauna or steam room. You never know who’s lurking in there, in the dark or foggy corners. Luckily, I’m batting close to 1.000 at my current gym with not being in there with anybody else on this list. But a couple of months ago, the weirdest thing happened. I was in the sauna, alone, sweating, and a guy – not an old guy, which made this weirder – came in wearing only a towel. Fine. He was my age, probably a little bit younger. Late 20s. He wanted to have a conversation, which is literally the last thing you want to do in the sauna (I purposely jack up my music so others can hear that I’m not interested in banter — the sauna is a banter-free zone). I politely smile and make it known that I can’t hear him. He nods, sits for another minute or so, and then leaves. I had the room to myself again. Or so I thought. He comes back four minutes later, still wearing a towel– something that is now concerning to me because he totally should be changed and on his way out. He’s carrying a second towel, which he places on the bench. He sits. And then… removes the first towel and tries to strike up a conversation, buck naked. NO I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING TALK TO YOU, WEIRDO. I picked up my shirt and towel and walked out, not acknowledging him. I haven’t returned since. Never, ever, take your dick out in a sauna. It’s fucking weird.
And that was just a tame encounter:
@CrossingBroad walked out of the stall to see an older, strange man doing naked jumping jacks in the sauna
— Brian Andrew (@hinz33) August 13, 2014
@CrossingBroad 6'5" black guy doing naked crunches in the steam room
— danmg1128 (@danmg1128) August 13, 2014
@CrossingBroad An old dude coming into the sauna and rubbing lotion on himself. Needless to say, I GTFO of there
— Justin Moreschi (@JMoreschi) August 13, 2014