Funny things happen on the way to the forum and also… at my gym.
You may remember a year ago my worst nightmare being realized in this very place, involving false alarms, nakedness, and aqua fitness.
Well I have another story to tell.
It’s not as good. But close.
So there I am, doing what I always do in the locker room: minding my own business. Occasionally women – usually older women – in various stages of undress will try to strike up a conversation. It’s the usual gym talk, you know, “busy today hmm!”or “the pool is full of (shudder) hotel guests today – steer clear.” or “did you hear they had over 100 people come to the gym last night? that’s why I never come in the evening. Who would! …Do you?” This last one I always feel is some kind of trap. I remain non-committal. After all, (shh) I do sometimes go to the gym in the evening.
But I don’t want to sound mean-spirited. I like the characters in the locker room. And it’s a small gym. There’s only so much for a woman to gossip about. She has to take the mundane she’s dealt and make it newsworthy.
So I’m doing what I always do in the locker room: minding my own business. And I’m also focusing on getting dressed quickly so I make it to work at a reasonable hour. Unusually, this morning I have – I estimate here – two minutes and 40 seconds to spare to dry my hair a bit. This is a luxury.
The hand held dryers – two of them – are right next to the sinks. A tall lady, about 65 I’d say, is at the mirror tucking her curls underneath a swim cap and adjusting her bathing suit around an ample bottom. I flip my hair upside down to dry it (a common practice, men) so my head is between my knees, my back facing her.
I see legs walking toward me from my upside down vantage. The roar of the second hair dryer starts up.
Someone speaks above me, her words garbled by the two blowing dryers.
I whip my head up. She is smiling a matronly smile and pointing the gust of hot air at my face which, may I add, is already quite hot.
“Sorry?” I shout over the noise.
“It’s a trick I know!” She chortles. “You can use BOTH of them to dry your fine golden hair!”
She extends the blower closer to my head to demonstrate. My ear is burning. I smile widely to show her that I appreciate the thought and think it novel and certainly indicative of high intelligence.
“I only need one – my other hand is busy already. See?” I tousle my hair with the free hand demonstratively. My two minutes and 40 seconds are nearly expired so I nod my thanks and resume upside down position. Every second counts, you see, with hair as thin as mine. 3 minutes nearly does the job.
I watch as the legs move still closer to me. I see in the mirror that she is bending over my body, smiling beatifically, helping me to dry my own hair. She shakes the second dryer back and forth.
I scoot away from her and use a little phrase that the Brits have taught me – ‘thank you’ to mean ‘please stop what you are doing post-haste and leave immediately’.
It’s amazing, their use of subtlety in language.
“Thank you! Thank you!” I yell over the roar of the twin dryers, scooting away from her, still upside down.
She replaces the second dryer and leaves, I imagine a bit deflated. I personally don’t observe it. I have to keep my head down because, well, I only have about 15 seconds on the clock.
And there’s a lot of laughter to conceal behind my fine, golden hair.