I’m asthmatic, have been for 20 years, I’m fairly good at managing it, stress is one of the major causes, dairy products too – key to overcoming it is knowing what to avoid, when it’s coming on, all that Dr Phil type of jazz. One of the things I do is go swimming. My job facilitates it well, I finish at 11.30am, get the DART to the stop before my house, pop in for a swim in a near empty pool and head home. It’s become my routine three times a week.
Anyway I’d a really strange experience today. They started swimming classes for kids two weeks ago, it’s on after the public hour that I go to. There’s two sets of dressing rooms so you alternate them. Was getting changed after my session today.
From here the story begins. Firstly I know some of you have never been in a men’s dressing room so let me fill you in on something. There’s no taboos, hiding yourself behind your towel is a sign of weakness, you go with the old rule of one out all out and just get on with your business. It’s like ancient Rome without the free love and slaves….Until today….
Picture the scene – an adequately sized dressing room on the Northside of Dublin – a mixed group of men are in different stages of transformation from lean, mean, swimming machines to normal men about town.
Enter stage left…middle aged mother with 9 or 10 year old son in tow.
Cue mad scramble for towels from the assembled (mostly naked) male gathering….exchange of puzzled, uncomfortable glances amongst the adonises.
Mother spends what seems an eternity but in reality a number of seconds perusing naked bodies, very much taking in the display.
Mother - “Don’t worry lads, nothing I haven’t seen before”
Silence……assembled, mostly towel protected men share a glance that says…”she’ll fuck off in a minute”.
Mother sits facing uncomfortable men, again taking in the gathering. A number of minutes pass before son departs dressing room for swimming class. Mother reaches into bag and takes OK or some such rag out of bag. Eyeline dances from magazine (briefly) to men (extensively).
Old Man – “you know love you really shouldn’t be in here”
Mother – “Ah the other dressing room is packed and I don’t like sitting on the bank.”
Old Man – “No, I mean it’s not right, you should have taken the lad to the ladies or the toilet”
Mother – “Sure all the mothers come in here, you lads must love it”
Collective gathering in many states of dampness shuffle almost in unison towards door leaving mother alone in men’s dressing room from where she does not emerge. Old Man rants at supervisor, other mothers look on in disgust. Tiberius wonders if he needs counselling.