Tuesday, 3 March 2009

The Gym Member

I was in my local corner shop looking to satisfy my craving for Reeses Peanut Butter Cups. The gentleman on duty greeted me with an unenthusiastic monosyllable. We then undressed in front of each other. I made my purchase and left.


This of course is nonsense, but it is a suitable preamble to today’s musings. My question today is this: Why are there so few changing rooms in today’s leisure centres?


I use that frankly misleading term, rather than simply gym, as it implies the presence of more than a few exercise bikes. It probably has a pool. I enjoy a light paddle as much as the next fellow, but the necessary preparation presents a problem. Should one be without a cubicle one must expose one’s knackers to the rest of the changing room. Why, I here you say, in today’s open minded and liberal society should this present a problem? Well call me old fashioned, but despite the occasional over zealous flirt to the contrary, most men prefer to keep their trouser dwellings out of sight. Or so I thought.


I was at a rather pleasant example of a leisure centre the other day, making use of a friend’s guest pass for a game of tennis and a quick dip. The first activity didn’t present a problem. I had chosen underwear that etiquette demanded for the occasion, manly and pleasantly supportive, which did not have to be shed for the on court shenanigans that followed. As I locked my things away and turned to leave, I was confronted by an elderly man, starkers, one leg on a bench, drying his parts with unnecessary vigour. I froze, transfixed (for future reference, this is not the socially acceptable thing to do). Thankfully, the man was so preoccupied in his task that he didn’t notice.


The mere remembrance of that dark time has brought shivers down my spine. And with some nails and some MDF, the problem might have been averted.


I made my leave rather the worse for wear and was beaten soundly by my friend (at tennis you understand). I returned to the changing room to prepare for my swim. It was crowded. The towels were too small. There was nowhere to hide. Men were chatting amiably, bearing all. What else could I do? Some form of the towel trick was out of the question. Opening locker doors either side of me in a poor, Heath Robison style approximation of a cubicle would simply not do. I had my pride. There was nothing for it. I stripped bare.


Let’s not kid ourselves dear readers. With the notable exceptions of Bruce Forsythe and Dasal Abayaratne, the naked man is not a pleasant sight. Why is it illegal (and rightly so) to expose oneself in public but suddenly perfectly acceptable to ‘rock out with one’s cock out’ in a changing room. Cubicles. Everywhere. Now.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, Oliver...Anxiety fills you. As you may well agree with Hugh Laurie in your means of differentiation between the sexes (I recall an episode of House where he referred to the women in the room as 'those with aesthetically pleasing genitalia') it is not necessary that you feel anything but ambivalence towards a room full of stark and sweaty men performing necessary and appreciated hygenic activities.