“The men’s locker room reeks,” my friend told me as we were leaving the gym.
Every visit to the gym—yes, every—ends this way, with information on the men’s locker room. Apparently the guys like to walk around naked and dripping wet from the showers and saunas. The floor is always a puddle, making it difficult to change shoes without getting your socks wet. There are naked men sitting on the benches, and, as my friend tells me, it smells like feces, Axe body spray, and BO (especially when the high school boys show up). In the midst of it all, they are mixing their protein drinks with fussy powders on the sloppy counters, and some guys are blasting music and rapping and dancing to it.
The women’s locker room, in contrast, is lovely.
Always fairly tidy. Clean. Dry floor. Not noisy. Ladies wearing clothing. The wafting scents of light perfume coming from the coats and clothes stashed in the lockers. Pleasant greetings as we all go about our business of coming or going from the gym. Towels are always in use if water is involved. Toilet smells rare.
“You guys are disgusting,” I told him. “My locker rooms smells like baby powder.”
I get virtual scolds about my love of perfume, particularly in this day when everything must be natural or organic.
“If you just ate clean and healthy you wouldn’t need perfumes because your body’s pheromones wouldn’t stink!” they say.
Whatever. I love designer perfume. Coco Chanel Mademoiselle is the best, but costs even more than a tank of gas.
We joked about hiding pine tree car air fresheners in the tops of the high lockers in the men’s locker room. It could work, maybe.
“I really don’t have an advice for you, beyond get in and get out,” I said. “It’s just gross.”
The cost of getting fit is higher than I’d imagined.
All right, now, I have to speak up for my sex.
There may be gyms having men's locker rooms of the sort your friend describes. (Obviously, there's at least one.) I've never been in such a place, and I've logged lots of time, over the past 20+ years, in gyms (and hence, in locker rooms, since I shower and dress in clean clothes at the end of my visit). Either my locker rooms have not stunk, or my nose just doesn't work ... and I know my nose works.
It is true that there's the occasional bad citizen who goes from shower to locker with wet feet. Thankfully, these guys are a small minority. Also in a very small minority are the "Axe" boys, but I find it's weeks between offenders. As for walking around naked? It's a men's locker room. No women, or girls, are present. Why wouldn't you go naked? It's only in recent, and decadent, years that they've started doing little partitioned-off cubicles for the showers. At the YMCA I used to use, before covid made them dead to me and I had to find a commercial gym that wasn't run by lunatics, the shower room was one great big open room. Five shower heads down each side, six across the back. What's the big deal? If some guy wants to get a glimpse at my makings, that's his problem. No skin off my back.
Guys rapping? Dancing? Excuse the blunt question, please, but what the hell kind of gym do you two use, anyway? Try a different one. I simply can't believe that there are two such in the entire state of North Dakota.
Now, to close with agreement and appreciation. I wrote above that I know my nose works. Since I bake a little bread every now and then, and scoop the cats' litterbox daily, that nose gets a frequent functional test. But what happens every once in a great while is that I encounter a woman who still dares to wear a fragrance. And I LOVE it! Always makes me smile. So, even though I'm much too far away to enjoy it, keep up the scented work, Julie! The men in your vicinity appreciate it, even though they'd never dare to say so, for fear of, you know, seeming creepy.