Portrait of a naked man in a changing room

To keep myself in 32 inch waist trousers I swim twice a week. This is not only good for the body, but cleanses the mind as it is a wonderful distraction from the modern world – no radios, phones, or computers.

Bloody delightful.

Recently after a particularly arduous swim, I panted into the sanctuary of the changing room. My shoulders, filled with front crawl fuelled lactic acid, felt a friendly slap on them.

I spun to see a bald middle aged man grinning at me.

“You’ll feel that one tomorrow mate. But it is worth it when you hit the beach”

Unable to speak, I smiled politely at this positive gent. He moved on to his clothes peg and flung a large amount of talcum powder onto his hand and went to work on his body. I zoomed out and quickly realised this unusually intimate stranger was stark bollock naked and chatting away to everyone and smothering himself in the powder.

Naked bald man was one of life’s overly cheery chaps. He was telling any sole who would listen that he was a teacher and loved fitness. Excellent attributes, but all the while marching around and talcum powdering every nook and cranny…

He was revelling in every long naked minute. Spectacularly oblivious to the awkwardness in the room.

At this point I must note that years of boarding school and cricket changing rooms have shredded me of any prudence. So I’m more than happy, and young enough, to have a good naked post swim shower.

But I am back under the towel sharpish!!

I often think that these alpha males of the changing room are repressed flashers. In the 60’s and 70’s they would have strolled along in their beige macs ready for a public display of flesh. Now that is deemed slightly inappropriate these chaps seem to get it all out in one 20 minute period.

The chipper naked bald man’s locker was at the opposite end to the showers. He conveniently had left his towel, undergarments, and wash bag by the shower. Between unrelenting applications of powders, pomades, creams, and scents he would walk to the shower and one by one retrieve his goods. This was surely an unnecessary six shuttles.

Naked bald man is not a pioneer for this is a systemic problem afflicting all London gyms. The purveyors are never an Adonis, nor are they Michaelangelo’s David made flesh. To a man they are over 40 and never have a body to aspire to; rather one looks and thinks ‘gosh that’s what I have to look forward to’.

I was wringing out my swimming trunks by the time naked bald man was entertaining the thought of clothes and a new stranger to rabbit away at. Lecturing the room on football he went for the classic move of reaching for his socks first. Now standing proudly in polka dot socks he went over to the mirror and moisturised his face. He finally deemed that it was time to put on a garment; first his shirt then his tie and lastly his pants and trousers.

With the possible exception of continental Europe this behaviour would not be acceptable even on a beach.

Perhaps this is a man comfortable in his skin and remembering a thimble of his youth. Dare we think that he is oblivious to judging eyes in a free and naive mind. Is he a deluded peacock with mirrors fitted for a king? Is it rather more sinister?

I like to think that he is a blur of all, except the last one. When he stands anon clad only in his socks he is the antidote to the hairless gym addicted dullards of the modern world. He has his health and he has his unsculpted body.

The problem is that most humans feel the need to cover up. Personally I feel my need to swim, shower, and get my clothes on as quickly and quietly as possible.

It is charming that this chap has the confidence to stroll around in his birthday suit but unfortunately Eve ate the apple all those years a go.

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