Eavesdropping at the Y

English: depot interior

English: depot interior (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been a private person when it comes to showing my flesh.  Okay, let me rephrase that.  Except for the time when I was in college and miniskirts were the rage, I have always been averse to showing my flesh.  For nearly thirty years I lived in San Antonio without ever owning a sundress in a place where summer temps (summer started in April and ended in November) hovered around the 100-degree mark. So changing in the locker room at the Y is not on my list of favorite things to do.  I usually (okay, always) arrive already dressed for working out, stuff my coat and purse in a locker, and head to the exercise room.  When I return to the locker room, I simply retrieve my things and go home to shower and change.

I seem to be an exception, though.  Most of the women at my Y shower and change there, especially if they’ve been in the pool.  I’m never sure where I’m supposed to look when they start talking to me and they are standing there stark naked.  I pretend I’m looking for something in my purse, or I bend down to retie my shoes, or use another diversionary tactic.  “Wow! Would you just look at these nails?  I need to schedule a manicure, don’t I?”

If I’m not being addressed, I can keep my head down and eyes averted, with just a glimpse of jiggling bodies caught in my peripheral vision.  I wonder why it seems easier for most men to not be bothered by nakedness?  (I mean of other men, of course!  They would certainly be hot and bothered by female nudity, I’m assuming.)  Are they that much more secure with their self image?  Do most of them really see themselves as studs, or do the years not wreak havoc with their bodies like they do with ours? I know it is more than a matter of perception; it is a matter of culture.  As men age, we hear how they become distinguished looking.  Distinguished is not an adjective I hear in connection with us women as we age.  Maybe that’s why we try so hard to mitigate the signs of aging by working out and trying every wrinkle cream on the market.

I heard the following interchange in the locker room at the Y the other day.  I don’t know what these ladies looked like because my head was down, as usual, but they sounded young.

First lady:  “ I’m working on my triceps so I won’t get those saggy old lady arms.”

Second lady:  “I hear you.  I call those Esther arms.  The back of my aunt Esther’s arms sagged so much she looked like she was wearing a cape.  When she raised her arms and spun around too quick, she could take out several small children in a single spin.”

The next day, I used extra heavy weights in my workout.

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About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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11 Responses to Eavesdropping at the Y

  1. JP says:

    That’s actually an interesting social study I think. Recently a friend of mine said she stopped going to the Y and one of the reasons was naked ladies in the locker room (she’s in her early 40’s). I wonder where the unease comes from since we’re all ladies and none of us with the air-brushed perfection of media women. I’m a swimmer and throughout my adult life have never had an unease changing/showering/sauna-ing in the many different locker rooms over the years (even now, five babies later with my flabby, stretch-mark covered belly). It’s interesting to me and takes me aback a bit to know that other women are actually uncomfortable by those of us that are just getting our job done (changing, showering, etc) with, for me at least, not much thought of what other people are thinking. Having been alerted to this other way of thinking about locker room atmosphere by my friend who left the Y, I’m now more self-concious than I ever was, while wondering if I’m offending another woman with my female body. Hmmm…I love pondering these kinds of social/relational things. (for the record, (-: I do think striking up a conversation with someone while naked is TOO far).

    • comingeast says:

      I hate that I made you self-conscious because that was certainly not my intention! We ladies should be more like you; we shouldn’t be so self-absorbed that we care what other women think of our bodies. It’s just curious that some women (probably many) get a little stressed about showering and peeing with other women around, and yet men’s locker rooms are set up with gang showers and urinals, so they must not mind too much. I don’t understand why the discrepancy. Thanks for the thoughtful comment.

  2. I completely agree! I don’t go to the gym anymore because it’s just too weird in the locker rooms. What is it about that location that lowers the inhibitions? I don’t get it. DVD workouts for me.

    • comingeast says:

      No, don’t give up over the locker room issue. The Y is so worth it, I find the locker room thing just a minor distraction. My workouts are so much better if I’m not doing them at home.

  3. Hi Coming East,

    I found your post by way of Saturday Evening Porch. Nice to “meet” you. This post is so funny! I find the whole get-naked-in-the-locker-room thing awkward, but thank you for putting me at ease next time when I master avoidance and distraction by saying, “Wow! Would you just look at these nails? I need to schedule a manicure, don’t I?” That line made me laugh out loud!

    AA

    • comingeast says:

      Glad I’m not the only one who has trouble dealing with nakedness! Why don’t men mind the whole gang shower concept? Thanks for visiting, and now I want to come and visit you.

  4. Pingback: Ode to Big Happy Nothing and cynilog | Saturday Evening Porch

  5. Hilarious! We call them, ‘cafeteria arms’…after the sweet ladies who scoop the mashed potatoes and meatloaf and such.

  6. oldereyes says:

    Well, I was teased mercilessly in junior high and high school about various “body characteristics” … maybe men become desensitized by the constant kidding. Billy Crystal calls them Hadassah Arms, by the way.

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