well that was awkward

While working for Channel 8, I was a member of the UH gym. It’s a brand new facility with all the latest equipment, and I liked exercising there. (Forget the fact that I was often the oldest person in the gym, including staff, instructors and moms who were there picking up their college-age students.) When I quit working on the UH campus, I lost my gym privileges. Which was okay because it was mid-June and too hot to think about doing much more than going from air-conditioned car –> air-conditioned job –> air-conditioned car –> air-conditioned home –> repeat.

Now that summer is nearing its burn out phase (be gone, ye right bastard of hellfire and brown grass), I felt ready to get back on track. Literally. So I joined the Y again. I was a member when I worked at the Alley, frequenting the old downtown location. Like so many things in Houston, the original downtown location has not only been closed but completely razed (to make way for a…vacant lot), and there’s a shiny new facility a block or two away. I wanted to sign up after work, so I thought I’d avoid the crowd by going to the Y on Augusta instead of the one five minutes from my office downtown. The Augusta location was busy as could be, so that didn’t really work out right. Neither did my experience in the locker room.

When I was done with my workout, I went in search of a sauna in the women’s locker room. (I hate Houston summers but love saunas for some reason. Maybe because I’m only in the sauna for ten minutes while the heat in Houston lasts three years every summer.) I didn’t find a sauna but I did find a steam room. While saunas smell like cedar, steam rooms always smell like humid, dirty socks. I poked my head in the steam room to see if it smelled different than I expected (it didn’t) when something moved in my peripheral vision. It was a chick in the whirlpool. Only, instead of having a good soak for her muscles, she was somehow completely above the water (and naked) (of course). Like, her hands and feet were in the pool but her body was above the water. And she was making some sort of movement that, how shall I put this, would suggest that she was really enjoying the whirlpool. We had a split second of awkward eye contact, then I turned and quickly exited the room.

I’m not a prude, and I don’t have an issue with nudity. But come on. It’s not like the ladies locker room is the sexiest place to be and she just couldn’t help herself. I know that movies make it seem like the air is steamy and all of the women have hot bodies and are running around in little panties and tickling each other, but the reality of it isn’t so. Even at the UH gym where the average age was probably 20. Not even close.

My next trip to the gym was to the downtown location.

10 thoughts on “well that was awkward

  1. There were people running in Memorial Park at noon today. I just don’t understand, it’s not my fault I find enchiladas and cheese and margaritas tasty.

    1. Yes! Enchiladas and cheese and margaritas, oh my.

      Hey, Stig, I have tee shirts for you and Sean. My work schedule is cra-cra for the next month – maybe we can all get together in October (when it will hopefully be cooler)? And then when you travel to fabulous places you can wear your Fight Stupidization tee shirt? We could do the hand off at a place that has cheese enchiladas and margaritas…

    1. It’s just one awkward moment after another. By the way, I just bought my first Malcolm Gladwell book, at your suggestion. I’ll let you know how it goes. It’s three or four in the queue (after your friend Paula’s book, which I’ve almost finished and have been really enjoying).

  2. I forgot to warn you about one of the hazards at the Downtown Y – the family locker room.

    That is on the 1st floor, and exists (I guess) so that parents can monitor their children while they all change into bathing suits together.

    One of my first times there, a woman a little older than me brought both her elderly mother AND elderly father into the 2nd floor, women-only locker room. And there I stood, in my unmentionables, gawking at them. A few moments earlier, and I would have been completely nude.

    They were speaking rapid-fire Vietnamese, which I could neither understand nor interrupt, as understanding or interrupting would have created an even more awkward situation.

    Instantly, my mind flashed to the Seinfeld/Korean nail salon episode. A split second later, I had a white guilt moment when I started thinking that I shouldn’t say anything because I’d be making an assumption that it was rude of me to point out that men shouldn’t be in the women’s locker room, because maybe they’re much more progressive about locker rooms in Vietnam.

    Now, I just change at home. I realize that it isn’t nice of me to say it, but I wish we could save the downtown Y for the grown-ups, and leave the whole “family” atmosphere to the other Ys. I, for one, am much more comfortable about walking in on adults (or adult) in flagrante in the whirlpool than giving a 6-year-old “little” boy an eyeful of non-maternal lady parts.

    1. (As I leave a response to a third person, it occurs to me that probably none of you will actually revisit this blog post. I guess I’ll have to do follow up emails.)

      Anyway, Andrea, I tried going to the downtown Y after work today. No dice. Remember when I asked you how busy it was? And you said you’re usually out of there before the evening rush? Well, after fighting my way through rush hour traffic to get from the other side of downtown, I was finally a block from the Y. In the left lane. Which was not moving. I eventually found out why. The Y’s parking garage was full, as indicated by the illuminated sign that said FULL, yet people kept turning in and getting stuck at the gate. A Y employee was standing there trying to explain to everyone that FULL means there are no more parking spaces.

      Of course, there are so many special people in the world, each car though that “full” didn’t refer to their car. That’s for the chumps. So they’d get backed up there at the gate, and then the Y employee would have to get the third car back to back into the street so the other two cars could back out. And repeat.

      This was before 6PM, so no street parking. And of course I didn’t have cash to park in a lot. So, I had to head to the MILP gym. No naked awkwardness this time. Instead, I was working on weight machines and kept noticing this old fart who would stand right in front of me and make awkward eye contact. I was doing the usual three sets with about 30 seconds of rest in between. I hurried through the first round because it was obvious I was, like, on this dude’s machine or something. So I moved to a different one. He did one set on the machine where I’d been and then went back to standing in front of me. I assumed he’s on some sort of circuit. I wondered why he couldn’t go to one of the other five machines that were empty and just change his routine. So for my third machine, I jumped three down. Figured that would do it. Nope. He did one set on the machine where I’d been, then stood in front of me again.

      Sometimes I really just don’t like humanity.

  3. First off, had to wonder, the brand new facility at UH isn’t air-conditioned? (Was wondering why it didn’t fit into the car–>work–>car–>home air-conditioned routine.

    Second, they have naked saunas at the Y? (Or is it “The Y” nowadays, since the name change?) I’m a Bally’s member and the only saunas they have are of the cohabitation variety, but the one on North Shepherd has a steam room in the shower area, and I have to constantly remind some of the guys that they are, in fact, supposed to refrain from sitting their naked butts on the benches. Hadn’t even considered that if it was a sauna that I would have to deal with a bunch of naked guys, which would definitely negate any relaxing effect, for sure.

    Third, speaking of steam rooms vs. saunas, I can understand why you would prefer the sauna, since it’s a dry heat and different from the normal Houston heat. Funny, but that’s why I actually prefer the steam room, don’t care much for that dry, sere, air. I’ve been to Vegas a few times and found it miserable.

    1. 1. The AC routine was post-job at UH and, therefore, post-gym membership.
      2. The old downtown Y had a sauna and steamroom inside the womens locker room, so it was clothing optional. The new downtown Y still has separate saunas and steam rooms for men/women, but to access them you have to go out by the pool. So they are bathing suit mandatory.
      3. I’ve been to Las Vegas once and hated the heat. I can’t explain liking the sauna. Maybe because it makes me think of my cabin in the woods. I’m going to give the steam room at the new Y a shot. Maybe being brand new and all, it won’t quite be as oppressively stinky.

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