When I go to the gym, it’s usually under duress. I’m either there because I can’t run outside (ice, ice, baby) or because the boiler’s broken and I need a shower. So, y’see, I’m usually not in the greatest form when I’m there. Especially at Stupid O’Clock in the morning, when the sun is low on the horizon, pale and watery like the semi-skimmed milk in my coffee. The last thing I want to see is someone’s arse.
There I was, on a dull Wednesday morning, going from the shower to my locker wrapped up in a big fluffy towel and this lady in her fifties walks past me into a shower cubicle in the nip. I mean completely in the nip. I quite honestly did not know where to look. I ended up looking at the ceiling, actually. I pretended I was stretching my neck. Yeah, I know, some pretty nifty thinking on my feet from me there! I went back to my locker to practice the fine art of getting-dressed-without-ever-taking-the-towel-off and wandered over to the hair dryers and there she was! Walking around AIR DRYING! “Maybe she’s forgotten her towel” I thought. “Maybe she’s from a nudey colony.” Although, you think you’d notice one of those around the place. Then I thought. “Well maybe she’s doing it to deliberately freak me out.” Because I get paranoid when I’m uncomfortable.
I get very, very uncomfortable around nudity and I know I’m not the only one. A very unscientific ask-around my office one lunchtime (my timing is nothing if not impeccable) revealed a similar attitude (if not quite as extreme as mine). A similarly unscientific Twitter ask-around revealed that lots of people (mostly men, not surprisingly) are perfectly fine with it. In fact, it seems to be a feature of most male locker rooms. And now I’m very uncomfortable again…
Sometimes the answer seems to lie with the fact that I’m Irish. I went on holidays with two girl friends to Northern Italy when we were but students. We stayed in those youth hostel campsites you find all over Central Europe. The three of us would creep into the communal shower rooms at the crack of 11am, checking furtively around corners to see if there was anyone around before whipping off our towels to reveal… our swimming togs. Other girls hailing from Germany, Spain, France used to walk around topless. Dry their hair topless, tie their shoelaces topless. We were absolutely mortified, almost every time we had a shower. But those girls didn’t give a shit. I envied them their confidence but never felt the need to take them as role models. I’m just too much of a prude.
I often wonder why I’m so prudish… and then I get embarrassed thinking about it so I stop. I can’t see myself becoming any more comfortable with it in the near future. Looks like I’m going to have to stretch out my neck muscles a whole lot more in that locker room!