So about an hour ago I entered the New York Sports Club locker room after a workout. This is a subject that is rarely broached among men, but I’ll broach it: I hate the locker room. Hate it. I’ve never felt comfortable being naked around strangers; just an odd feeling, roaming around a bunch of nude men, holding conversations, talking the talk, everything just … hanging out. I think this dates back to boyhood, when I used to spend my off days from school helping my dad at his office in Stamford, Ct. At lunch we’d go to the local YMCA to run or play basketball. At the end, all the men would retreat to the showersâ€”and I’d be thoroughly repulsed. Just something gross about seeing all those old, wrinkly, fat, hairy dudes milling about as if it were some elephant graveyard. My dad would say, “You gonna take a shower?” and I’d alwaysâ€”alwaysâ€”say, “Uh, no. I’ll just wait outside.”
Anyhow, today I found myself, age 37, walking my dad’s old footsteps, awkwardly milling about the locker room, half embarrassed, half … well, half nothing. Fully embarrassed. I also encountered two little roadblocks, which leads to this unofficial poll (answers always appreciated). If you were Jeff Pearlman in the New York Sports Club men’s locker room an hour ago, what would you have done if …
A. You forgot your flip-flops at home, but needed a shower? Would you go barefoot in the semi-gross NYSC shower, or just not take one?
B. You forgot clean underwear, and the ones you wore for the workout were not coated in sweat?
Personally, I sucked it up and took the shower, tiptoeing around, eying every piece of squiggly hair on the ground (ew). As for the underwear, well, this was a toughie. Were I wearing, say, dress slacks or shorts, I supposed I’d have to go nasty and stick with the rank undies. But I’m wearing jeans. Thick jeans. And as any veteran freeballer can tell you, jeans don’t really require underwear. Especially if they’re thick and baggy, which these are. Gap, loose-fitting.
So, here I sit, typing away … liberated.