Final entry on this topic until such a time as something completely batshit goes down at the gym, or until something that I have repressed claws its way to the forefront of my ittsy-bitsy brain.
I may have my own little annoyances and petty grievances, but my wife, Amy, is the one who has experienced the most mental encounters and seen some incredibly disturbing shit. She tells me these tales and I find myself cringing with anger, disgust, pity, and ultimately fear.
She had been going to a pilates group class at the downtown gym for a few months. She said, that the pilates class was repetitive with the same series of exercises with minimal variation and she was quickly becoming bored. Luckily for her, one of the many gym denizens succeeded in helping her make the decision to stop going to that class all together.
One day, that seemed pretty much the same as any other day, she went to the class and set out her mat, towel, rubber bands, hammer, chisel and what ever the hell else you need for pilates. The class was not full and there was plenty of room for stragglers who happened to be running late, like the Piggy-Tail-Rainbow-Toe-Sock woman. Again, the class was not full. Piggy-Tail-Rainbow-Toe-Socks came in late and proceeded to set up her gear on the stage, next to the instructor. You read correctly, on the stage...and next to the instructor. She was older, possibly in her fifties, and reminded Amy of the lady with the eye patch who decided to go back to high school as a crazy adult woman in Twin Peaks. The instructor blinked a few times, confused, but decided to let the matter go and ignored the odd woman. Piggy-Tail-Rainbow-Toe-Socks then began to go about her own completely different routine, while the instructor led the class. Now granted, this is bonkers, and quite possibly a reason to leave the gym forever, but the story is not finished.
Throughout the course of the day, Amy must have drank far too much coffee, water, and soda and needed to excuse herself from the class, which was being led by two people performing completely different routines. Ignoring the teachings of her ancestors, who explicitly laid out the guidelines to never go into a public bathroom with bare feet (re: Brittney Spears), my wife ran to the restroom minus her shoes and socks. When she got there, she thanked the stars that the bathroom floor was not wet (Barefeet + Wet Floor = SICK) and began to go about her business, when a hand shot under the stall to grab the toes of her left foot. She screamed. She screamed loud and shrill until the hand released her foot.
A giggly girlish voice said, "Tee Hee, sorry about that. I kinda have a foot fetish. Tee Hee."
My wife replied with horror filled silence as she attempted to finish, as well as to calm her rapidly beating panicked heart. Just then a foot appeared from under the next door stall and my wife saw five distinct rainbow-sock-wrapped toes wiggling towards her, "Tee Hee Hee Hee. Do you like my socks?" Without a word, my wife ran out of the stall, retrieved her shoes and left the gym never to return to the pilates class.
One last brief story from my wife, but one that also adds to my own paranoias. I have a...thing...about the gym bathrooms. It does not make complete sense, but I find them far more disturbing than all of the collective nonsense that goes on in the gym itself. I find what I termed "careers," or the people that hang out at the gym all day long just wandering about and chatting with random people, to be much less distressing than the "gym bathroom career hanger outters." I need to explain. There are individuals that enjoy hanging out naked in the bathroom, all day long as if this was still the late '70s, early '80s or a seedy bathhouse, with Olivia Newton-John's "Let's Get Physical" playing over the speakers. Sometimes there is a degree of crossover between careers and the bathroom careers, but I am not completely sure of that, pending the findings of the team of cultural anthropologists that I duped into staking out various gym bathrooms with the promise of Woodstock's Pizza and and a grant of twenty bucks for each of them. I know that I am just being weird and paranoid, but experience and the horrors of my wife's stories give me just cause.
The story that sealed the deal on never going into the bathroom at the gym is a terrifying one. Amy usually goes to one of the three gyms for about an hour within a three hour time span. She informed me that there are bathroom careers on the ladies side as well, and they are predominantly older...much older. It does not matter when she goes to the gym bathroom to change, there are always a couple of older ladies, hanging out in the bathroom and just having a grand old time, chit chatting...naked. She has also told me about certain ladies who rub the free lotion on themselves when she goes in to change, and that they are still there rubbing lotion on themselves when she leaves an hour later. Usually I would be very excited, thrilled even, by this news, but she then deflates my...balloon by giving me the specifics of the individuals involved, and they do not lead to any sort of sexy time at all...trust me.
Now, I promise that I do not have a problem with nudity or the human body, with the possibility of my own nudity in public places...Junior High was rough, and shaking those scars is no easy task. However, from how my wife recounts these stories, these women may as well have setup afternoon tea in between the changing area and the stalls, complete with a simply delectable earl grey, crumpets and a pleasant assortment of finger sandwiches, while they chat and use a tropical plant leaf to fan themselves; they're comfortable.
The real capper on the many, many times she told me about the naked old ladies in the gym bathroom, was the time that she relayed the following: I am told (this isn't Porky's) that the women's bathroom has hair dryers affixed to the wall that anyone can use. One day, Amy was changing clothes when she looked towards the hair drier wall and there stood a naked old lady. This person took a hair drier from the wall, bent over, pulled one butt-cheek aside and proceeded to dry...in Amy's words...her butt-hole with the hair drier. Why in the name of all that is good, sacred and just plain common sense does someone decide that this sort of behavior is perfectly acceptable? Was the towel that she brought not adequate? Are some valleys too deep? Did she really need to bend over with her ass pointed towards my wife before she flicked the switch? I don't know, but if women are doing heinous things like this, the men's bathroom can only be much worse. I am reluctant to go into either.
There you have it, folks. I would like to take this moment to thank you all for coming and to remember the following: don't proselytize at the gym, don't scream while you lift weights...it's douchie, don't hang out there all day, don't hang out in the bathroom all day, don't wear rainbow toe socks...ever, and don't dry your butt-hole with the hand drier provided by the facility...it's just common courtesy.