“Transformation literally means going beyond your form.” – Wayne Dyer
And what kind of a space is the locker room anyway? It is, anthropology speak, liminal as liminal can, very betwixt and between. The change of behavioral patterns is at the very least highly entertaining. The locker appears, in its confusing ambiguity, to amplify certain character traits and mute others.
The extrovert becomes hyper-flamboyant and flounces nakedly from his locker to the shower stall, slowly dressing and undressing himself in a ritual in which every piece of clothing is a holy relic to be treated delicately until the body divine is either nude or attired in full resplendence. Inbetween he might spend extend amounts of time before the mirror preening away at and contemplating the perfection of his own appearance. The shiny hair, the toned muscle, the tummy w/ exactly the right amount of flab, the blackly piercing gaze and lips meant only for the most divine osculation. So sees he. Perhaps somebody calls giving him a chance to have a conversation at high volume in which not only to drop, like, super important names but also to, come on now trivial boy, wax philosophically. In the locker room the extrovert will relentlessly put on a display of the battle between his deepest insecurities [?] and the image he wishes to project of himself. And of course to himself, via mirror. Ideally, numerous heads will turn in his direction to check out not just his free-swinging unit but also his hyper-chisseled torso. He might use the words „chisseled“ and „crossfit“ or „freelatics“ in the course of a possible cellphone conversation. If there‘s no call he can always himself call somebody, ideally while he is in front of the mirror combing that recalictrant bang into submission.
Then there‘s the uninhibted geezer. Understand: this man has done his fair share of living and, by virtue of having sucked air for such an extended period of time, is now free to violate the basic compact of civilization. Especially in such a ridiculously ambiguous space as the locker room. You can immediately spot the uninhibited mossback: like the flamboyant fuck he‘s most likely naked. But his shrivelled, age-freckled body, the soft-grey moss covering his …body… mercilessly inflict suffering on your retina. Add to that the pain inflicted on your basic sense of decency as you realize, not slowly but quickly, that the blowdryer is just about cuddling up to this bag of wrinkles‘ thumb-and-index-finger-pinched&extended you-don‘t-want-to-but-do-know-what. Like blatant, waving the dryer up and down to get that water of ye aul‘ Balzac. The reckless gramps! And the smell that now assaults your nostrils, the second wave of attack if you wish [which you don‘t], suggests that the old fart has most likely confused the correct order of taking a shower and drying oneself off. There sure is lots of sweat on that shiny, bald, ravined forehead. [The extrovert walks by in total disgust, unconsciously tugging away at his schlong. It‘s some sort of intrusion into his divine aura.] Then, one horrible realization piling right ontop of the next, even in the din of the locker room, you become aware of the old man‘s noises. He‘s mumbling little assorted bits of nonsense to himself inbetween hawking up heavy-duty gobs of unspeakable phlegm which he expectorates into the handbasin. For briefness‘ sake, let me point out that he‘s not particulary good [any more] at expectorating and the dryer takes some flack. And then sometimes it‘s not just one of‘em but an entire pack of uninhibited geezers clogging up the narrow passageways of the locker room, oblivious of where their bodies begin and end, bending over suddenly, flexing their ancient body parts out of the bloody blue and in petrified horror you maneuver your way to your favorite locker, which you presently hate for being your favorite locker but „the habitual animal“ rah-rah-rah. And, how else could it be, as you shed your chrysalis of quotidian creature, become naked as the babe, to immediately become the body athletic, you cannot help picking out the plaintive, wheezing words „…today‘s youth, got no respect, none…“. But goddarn-it, technically you‘re not even part of that demographic anymore.
Hold up. Let‘s for a second return, between primordial scrota and ultra-HD brows, to the question of the liminal locker. Why? It be transformation! You come in as the bumbling, downtrodden, exhausted Joe Everyday… or, irregardless of your inner state of being, in your everday duds [dressed for maximal societal contribution]. You wend your way to your locker of preference [if some stupid punk hasn‘t taken it, oblivious of timeless territorial assignments]. You sit down. To me, seriously, there is like this little spiritual flash the moment your ass hits the bench – a different period of time has hereby been inititated. Exhale a pent-up day‘s frustrations and temporary victories [e.g. that e-mail you‘ve been meaning to write since forever]. Then, a few seconds and autonomic gestures later, you are the way you were when you were born. Your ol‘ skin against the tepid, slightly humid ambient air. Imagine what the reaction might be, at any other time of day in a public place [other than maybe a metropolitan art exhibition] if you suddenly stripped down to your visible family jewels; before outrage and all the other symptoms of an injured morality would come simple disbelief. Who is this person daring to violate the basic precepts of civility? It is you, in the imagination only though. Because of course we sit through our days in cotton, lycra, corduroys, your-fabric-of-choice, etc. never to reveal the vulnerable, bad-skinned and small-sexed Individual beneath. Except then, BLAM!, in the lockerroom: buttocks, nipples, handles, schlong-dong, you go the full five inches, if that. [And, yes, bloody hell, one does too at the beach but I‘m trying to build a case here, ok?] This fundamental act, as far as I can see, somehow tends to exagerate people.
Apart from the pathetic prancer and the oblivious geriatric there is the voluble Know-nothing. Remember how one of those ancient greek guys claimed that we‘re all basicall ignorant and that, complicatory, we also seem to be pretty darn ignorant about our own ignorance? Well, this here guy has come to make that point as forcibly as humanly possible. He might not know all that much but the sucker sure knows a captive audience when he sees one. You hear him coming way down all those beigely tiled hallways and past these naked bodies thronging to and fro‘. For some reason the exemplary KnowNothing is the very guy gifted by nature/god/genes with a powerfully carrying basso profundo [like he could talk over Pavarotti or something]. And also, logically, he‘s never alone. He needs a foil to talk to, a wing man to shamelessly, falsely stand in for the lockerroom plenum as a representative of the interested whole.
At these moments I sometimes wish I had my headphones and mp3 player [tech that will read so laughably dated 5yrs from here] with me but as a probability I usually do not anymore. It‘s almost like I can finally appreciate what our religious studies teacher meant to express when he said that our walkman [walkmen?] are sprinkle machines [he wasn‘t simply a pessimistic prick of the Frankfurt variety]; I think he meant to say that the audio drizzle is not so much meant to rhythmically entertain us or heighten our appreciation of musical proficiency vis-a-vis an unending multiplicity of tune producers [after all, 95% of students do bitch about musical lessons and are just about force-fed the various wind-instruments they reluctantly practice between ages seven and nineteen] but that, simply, it was a veil either separating us or even drowning out our very own thought process. Speaking only personally, I attest to the fact that I can get very little solid thinking done when I drift into Nostalgia on a wave of The Weeknd or when I, slightly irrationally, vigorously nod my head and assent to Uncle Murda‘s prompting to BLAM–BLAM NYPD officers [„I know it ain‘t the solution but damn, we need some kinda justice!“]. Given this conflict of personal cognitive quality-time versus mental musical transport [not to mention that a loss-of-hearing, reported by at least three of my peers, seems imminent, manifested as a sudden mute then slow rise to a ringing of the right cochlea or organ of Corti or something else entirely] I have lately opted for the former. So when the wise guy makes his grand entry I have no means of auditorily denying him access. If you get lucky you‘re at this point in one of the shower stalls cleansing your nude, drained, liminal body of the liquid weakness slicking it and even still now issuing from your sweat glands as though you were still on the dreadmill, kicking air.
KnowNothing informs his poor buddy that he has gained three kilos of pure muscle over the last fortnight thanks to a rigorous banana-and-blood-sausage-diet he saw about on youtube. „Saw about“ are his actual words, you know, as you heard every one of them in EMI CD quality. The wingman‘s role is to make affirmative noises, nod his head and, at the extreme, ask questions that will allow the main man to further elaborate on his sophisticated and weirdly content-filled ignorance. Now, since in reality nothing is quite as extreme and stereotypical and hellacious as the ideal-types I here describe, I inevitably realize that the KnowNothing does in fact know a few things. And what is unpleasant about him is not his loud espousal of so-called ignorance or his egolooniac autoadvertising or his weirdly touching, shabbily veiled insecurity, the actual problem to me is this guy as a blatant reminder of my own unwilling citizenship [as the rest of us] of Ignoramistan. Among the few things I do know one is certainly how vastly, infuriatingly ignorant I am and I don‘t right now, as I am silently enjoying my tri-weekly metamorphosis, need anyone to remind me of it; thank you very much.
Though that is not the full measure of it. If the galoot happens to plunk his posterior down next to yours, you can smell it [the misdeed] coming three miles upwind. Ignorance is not exactly particular. Thus and so one of what must surely qualify as one of the more phylogentically ancient, inviolable physico-spatial precepts gets violated badly. Once naked and in search of item X or object Y or thingamjig Z [located blow hip-level I‘m afraid], the KnowNothing bends over heedlessly. Ergo: eye-thwacking, hirsute cr#ck! The evident thing to do would be to gaze otherwhere but it as with car wrecks and horrible congenital disfigurements.
You sit there all Weberian ideal types of human folly passing before your eyes, yuking it up, preening&prancing… yet you become naked and then, in good time, someone else. You have mayhap degenerative audio or warm water from above or gross liquid protein to distract you from this and yet it happens – metamorphosis – forget a but, a numbskull, a geriatric, a loudmouth: you become the other you!