There I stood, stinking of three days of indecency, desperate for a good scrub and steam to sweat out whatever toxins remained in my body, with no hope for either in site. Although at this point the gym was a distant memory and I was more concerned with getting myself clean than even attempting to work out, it dawned on me that if I could get myself there, I could shower there. From the minute my head hit the pillow it was filled with dreams of a shower. A shower in my glorious, overpriced-to-everyone-who-signed-up-after-me gym locker room. I thought of the minty fresh steam room, the spicy cedar sauna and the giant towels piled so high you want to take a running leap and jump into them the way you did a pile of leaves when you were ten.
Still hungover and looking just slightly better than the guy who lives outside the McDonald's across the street from me (who incidentally is crazy and shouldn't be spoken to - lesson learned the hard way), I threw on some workout clothes and trudged down to my beautiful, glorious health club. Out of breath from being a non-smoker who smoked enough cigarettes in one weekend (smoking is a law in Vegas and Europe) to suffocate a small village, I spent a good 15 minutes on the Elliptical until I could actually smell myself and knew it was time to step off the machine and into the shower. (For those of you who don't know, listen up: it is a rule that if you can smell yourself at the gym then everyone around you can smell you too and it's probably ten times worse than you think).
I headed for the shower so fast I think I may have torn off my pants before I even got into the locker room, but I can't be sure or accountable at this point. I grabbed whatever I remembered to bring from home, which wasn't much (a loofah, face wash and conditioner I think) and sprinted buck naked toward the showers. Now in any other scenario I would be self-conscious and too embarrassed to run full speed, unstable in flip flops, wearing not so much as pasties, but Manhattan locker rooms are a world unto their own. I cite the first time I set foot into a women's locker room in NYC and went into sensory overdrive after being greeted by breasts of all ages, bent over 60 year olds and the most precisely styled, yet incredibly full bush resembling an aerial view of Richard Simmons that I had ever seen. According to "T", the men's locker room isn't much different as he learned when a fully nude man pranced up, got right in his personal space and asked him for the time.
As soon as I hung my towel on the hooks and turned on that perfect stream of just-the-right temperature water and made it rain on myself, I started to think about how awesome showering at the gym is and why I love it so much.
There are lots of reasons the gym shower is so great. It's big, someone else cleans it and there are lots of fun products that come out of cool pumps attached to the wall. These are all great, but the real reason I love showering at the gym has nothing to do with any of these things. The real reason I love showering at the gym is the fantasy.
The minute I close the frosted glass door and lather up I am transported to every unrealistic movie locker room scene that ever was. Suddenly, I am starring in Porky's or Revenge of the nerds. My mind wanders to a place where I am one of 30 hot women prancing around a locker room, taking an extra extra long shower than stepping out of the stall, forgoing a towel for the more preferred method of air-drying. As I wash my hair and imagine that the 60 year old in the next stall is actually a dead ringer for Angelina Jolie and that the girls in the other showers are creating beautiful shadow silhouettes on the stall doors. I'm tempted to break into song like it's some locker room musical. Like by magic, we all at once start singing into hair driers and dancing on the benches.
Just before I start belting out "We are hot women!" (the imaginary first line to the opening number in the locker room musical going on in my head), I shut the water, towel off, cover up and step out to the realization that I forgot to bring deodorant, moisturizer and undies. As I ask Sally Loose Skin who's standing next to me to please pass me a Q-tip, I start lusting after my tiny, doorless, cold-water shower in my little apartment just four blocks away. I put on my clothes, sashay out the door for good measure and head home to sing into the blow dryer alone. Somethings are better kept private.