I’ve gotten into a routine at the health club. After I do the strength machines, I go downstairs to the locker room, change into my swimsuit, and do an aqua workout in the pool. I haven’t spent any time in a locker room since ninth grade, and I find the whole scene sort of unfamiliar and nervous. Basically, there’s a lot of nude people, and they don’t seem to think anything’s out of the ordinary. Some stand at the mirror blow-drying their hair or shaving. Others are walking un-towelled to and from the showers or the sauna. Sometimes groups of two or three stand around together, telling one another stories in their birthday suits. Unaccustomed as I am, I find it sort of strange. It’s not as though these guys are comfortable because of their finely chiseled bodies. A majority are elderly and pretty tubby. If anything, they look like they belong to an anti-health club.
My other source of locker room strain is that members make a lot of hostile comments about Barack Obama. They claim that he’s arrogant, or they think he’s ruined the economy, or they’re angry about health care or Wall Street. (Curiously they’re never upset about the war.) One guy this morning said he was absolutely certain that Obama was a Communist, and his partner simply nodded solemnly. I think they get their ideas from Glenn Beck and Rush. The health club is on a side of town long known for devotion to Reds baseball and rightwing politics. The people are actually pretty nice aside from their opinions about things. I’m sure everyone is comfortable making anti-Obama comments because they take it for granted that everybody thinks the same way they do. That’s probably a safe assumption for the most part. I know there are a lot of frustrated people out there, and I should work at being more open-minded, but I don’t do well. To me, the very worst locker room occasions are when these factors combine and there are two or three fat naked guys standing around bad-mouthing Obama. I’d like to tell them that they don’t know anything, but I don’t do it. Sometimes I wonder why I even belong here. I’d probably fit in better in my own neighborhood, but, unfortunately, we don’t even have a health club.
-Linda C (7-29): When you meet a woman friend at a club and both of you are totally naked do you hug with a big hug or arms length hug?
-DL to Linda C (7-29): Actually Ohio isn't that progressive, so men and women still do have separate locker rooms. It does make life simpler. : >)
-Vicki L (7-29): Hi David, I could easily resonate with your health club experience. In California, I'm not subject to so much evocative (right wing) political conversation. But I do relate to the weird combination of people being "naked" and the pull to being open and candid - busting up against the danger of any exchange at all. While estrogen is less threatening than testosterone.....still, 'congruency' would seem to require that nakedness be met with candor. Yet, if we followed our instincts, 'health' clubs would probably become 'fight clubs' or we might revert back to 60's marathon T-Groups. I agree....it's all pretty frightening. Love, Vicki
-Ami G (7-28): David: As soon as those strength machines make you stronger, you MUST try to change the minds of the bigots at your health club. I can't think of a better reason to work out!