Talking in the Locker Room

Posted On April 26, 2024

On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam Marston takes a moment to observe the fingerprint of time. And wishes he hadn’t.


Talking to a naked man is awkward. It’s just…awkward.

There are men that have come my gym at the same time every day for decades. And their work in the gym may have kept them alive but it has not kept them from aging. There is nothing firm on them. There’s nothing taut. Age plus gravity has left a sagging fingerprint. And talking to a naked man, especially one with some age on him, is, well, awkward. They’re standing there, towel over their shoulder, not around their waist. Is eye contact the right thing? Is no eye contact the right thing? I struggle with what to do.  

My gym has a hot tub. It feels good to get in there and, as I say, boil my bones for about ten minutes. I wear shorts. It’s a moment of truth whenever a naked man approaches the hot tub and asks, “Mind if I join you?” I never say what I want to. There’s plenty of room in there for the both of us, but sharing a hot tub with a naked man is, well, awkward. How far do I stay away? My instinct is to push myself up against the furthest edge of the tub. However, too much aversion may be rude. So somewhere between the next county over and right next to him seems to be about right. Always looking up. Always looking out. Always looking away. No behavior or no eye contact to suggest that you’re happy he’s joined you.

I watched out of the corner of my eye as an old man walked across the crowded locker room, towel over his shoulder, toward the water cooler. The room parted like the Red Sea. Everyone scooting out of the way. Him talking the whole way about golf or politics or traffic, whatever. No one was listening after he starting moving. Everyone clearing out. Making a path. Don’t get too close. And, good lord, don’t touch him. Fully dressed I’d happily shake his hand or even hug him. In the locker room with only a towel over his shoulder, no contact at all.

Another tried talking to a younger man who was getting dressed. The older man, towel over his shoulder, couldn’t get the younger man’s full attention. It was clear that the younger man did not want a conversation with a naked old man, so older man began walking towards him. The younger man moved to avoid him and kept moving, like a slow moving chase. Once the older man got within a certain distance, the younger man moved again. Like the repulsion of two magnets. And it was funny as long as he didn’t want to talk to me.

The male body, especially after a certain age, is nothing people should want to look at. It’s nothing people should have to see. It becomes oddly misshapen and strangely bulbous. There are exceptions, of course, and they’re on the covers of magazines. But most of us – yes, me too – avoid full length mirrors until we’re dressed. We already can feel the fingerprint of time. There’s absolutely no reason to have to look at it.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep It Real.

Check out this episode!

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