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It's a locker room, not nudist camp

OPINION

  • A sign at Chicago Theater
A sign at Chicago Theater (Chicago Tribune file photo )
April 14, 2013|By Stephen Markley, @stephenmarkley | For RedEye

Like many young people who wish to resemble a person another human being would want to have sex with, I go to a gym. If you're a man, then it's impossible not to notice the disturbing scourge that plagues the men's locker room.

Naked old guys: What the hell is up with you?

You know what I'm talking about. For some reason, men over the age of 58 appear to attend the gym partially for a quick workout, but mostly so they can shuffle around the locker room naked for 45 minutes. They'll stand around watching the locker room TVs, rubbing lotion into various body locations, propping one leg up on a bench and just standing there like some unseen Art Institute student is sculpting them.

I was changing the other day, and an old man took up his position beside me, patting his face dry. In the time it took me to go from fully clothed young urban professional to workout gear, this old man did nothing but pat his face with a towel and watch CNN. He did nothing but stand there while his weird, flat butt cheeks looking like two small ham loafs each cut into the shape of a rhombus just hung beside me.

To be clear, this is not a homophobic thing. If you played any high school sport, naked dudes are old news. In fact, showering naked was fine compared with the varsity guys trying to pee on us while we weren't paying attention. No, Grandpa, this is purely about the inconsiderate amount of time you spend naked.

Is there some generational divide at work here? Did you figure you were somehow entitled to a personal locker room exhibition of your genitalia in perpetuity because you voted for Richard Nixon? Or are you simply trying to terrify all the younger men? Are you secretly saying, "Enjoy the muscles and flat stomach now, kiddies! Pretty soon your gut will have a gut and your junk will look like a piece of rhubarb grown during a drought."

Look, I'm not against nakedness in theory. I'm not saying that if you take a shower at a gym, you have to do some covert change in a bathroom stall. Feel free to drop your towel right in front of my damn face as long as the underwear goes on at a decent interval afterward. What gets me, old guys, is the milling about. The perpetual shuffling back and forth in your squeaking flip flops, checking a contact in the mirror, chatting it up with your locker neighbor, putting your socks and shirt on first.

We don't have a beef here, old guys. All I ask is that you count down in your head from the time you leave the gym shower to the time your Cryptkeeper physique is fully covered, and if you reach, say 2,398 seconds, put your boxers on. Or maybe the younger generation will have to begin giving you the varsity shower treatment if you don't start getting dressed faster.

To be clear, I'm not saying I advocate peeing on naked old men, but ... or wait, I guess that's exactly what I'm advocating—end of column.

RedEye special contributor Stephen Markley is the author of "The Great Dysmorphia" and "Publish This Book."

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