I thought that I was probably done having embarrassing things happen in a locker room.

I know. I was delusional.

But really. Surely I've met my quota by now. Surely it's someone else's turn to humiliate himself while naked in a room for naked people.

But no.

I haven't told Skylar what happened last week. I haven't told anyone what happened last week. I almost announced it at family dinner a few hours after it all went down. We were eating with Skylar's sisters and their children in Portland. But then I remembered that I couldn't tell Skylar this because then he would yell some form of "THIS IS EXACTLY WHY I TOLD YOU NOT TO GO BACK IN THERE." And I haven't let Skylar be right about anything ever so I don't want to start now.

He had told me he didn't want me to go back into the locker room that morning because we were under some kind of deadline for meeting Skylar's family to go shopping. I had brought a change of clothes to the gym and he had not, so he suggested (but in a voice that sounded more like a command) that I not shower at the gym, but instead head back over to the house and shower there, that way he wouldn't have to sit and wait for me.

But I wasn't willing to agree to this for two reasons: 1. Because I get at least 1,000 times more sweaty than Skylar at the gym, so riding home in the car in that amount of filth is something that I won't attempt and he can't understand, and 2. I'm a stubborn person who is nearly impossible to love but I currently house and feed Skylar so he is enslaved to me and has no option but to stay and endure the misery, and since he can't go anywhere, my selfishness is reinforced and basically this is a very healthy relationship that you should all envy.

So I told him that, no, I would not get in the car without showering and changing and would instead shower and change at the gym while he waited for me and thought about how lucky he is to have me.

He rolled his eyes, but then gave up the argument.

I guess I felt a little guilty, and I've been reading about this thing where you consider another person's needs and then try to behave in a way to account for those needs, so I decided I should try to hurry so he wouldn't have to wait for long.

This must have been why everything that then happened went down. I was in a hurry. I was distracted. I was also multitasking because as I was showering, I was rehearsing in my mind how I was going to win an argument with Skylar in the car about why my showering at the gym was the right choice.

The gym had four shower stalls; one other, besides my own, was occupied. I didn't know who was in there, but I noticed a green towel hanging on the hook just outside of it.

I showered, and then retrieved my own towel from its hook, also green, dried off, and walked back to my locker.

Things were going just fine. There were a few other people in the locker room. We all minded our own business. No one was talking.


Until I heard a man yell "WHERE'S MY GREEN TOWEL?"

This was one of those moments where my brain heard the words that had been said, but it didn't process them. Like, "where's my green towel" entered my mind, but then just sort of sat there, without registering.

The man yelled the query a few more times to a silent locker room.

Then, suddenly, I saw him out of the corner of my eye. There he stood, over 75 years old, shivering, soaking wet, a large tattoo that said "MARINE" across his chest, completely naked, holding a bright pink shower loofah in his right hand, and staring at me.

The following things then happened in the following order:

1. The man asked me to give him back his towel.

2. I told him I did not have his towel.

3. I looked down and saw two green towels, which I had shoved halfway into my gym bag without noticing that there were two.

4. The man pointed at the two towels and said that one of those was his.

5. It wasn't a lie. I wasn't lying. I truly did not think I had taken his towel. How would I have ended up with both of them? It would have been one thing if I had grabbed his and left mine on the hook, simply confusing the two. But I clearly had both of them. And so I pointed at these and said "SOMEONE MUST HAVE FRAMED ME!"

6. Everyone was now watching us, me, the lying-conspiracy-theorist-thief, and my accuser, a very naked senior citizen. And they were all evaluating the merit of my argument that some stranger had stolen this man's towel and then stuffed it into my bag without me noticing.

7. A man with an arm cast who had been just sitting in the locker room seemingly with no purpose then yelled, "nobody framed him! I saw him come out of the shower area with two towels!"

8. I said that cast man was "lying," and my voice was a few octaves higher than normal.

9. Another man joined cast man, witnessing for the locker room throngs that he also saw me come out of the shower area with two towels, one wrapped around me, and the other in my hand.

10. This second witness also said that I had a "SMIRK" on my face when I did it, I suppose to paint a picture that I had done this intentionally.

I FOR SURE did not do this intentionally. I'm still not even totally convinced that I did it at all, but the second witness was wearing a very fancy watch so I kind of wanted to trust him.

The naked man was still standing there, absorbing all of the fruits of his investigation. I realized that it now looked like I was a punk kid trying to torture an elderly man who fought for our country at some point, by stealing his towel so he would have to get dressed wet, in a "and I would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for you nosy kids and your dog" kind of way.

And I realized that it didn't really matter whether I had in fact done the thing. Perception is reality. And all of those people in the locker room believed that this was the reality.

So I course corrected. I course over-corrected. Without thinking at all, I grabbed both towels, in a wad, and hurled them at this man.

This senior citizen.


And in so doing, I failed to realized that my disgusting, sweaty, 1,000 times more than Skylar, soiled gym clothes were included in that two-towel wad, which hit the elderly man square in his marine-tattooed chest.

He caught half of it, as the rest, one of the towels and my shorts, fell to his feet.

"Dude," I heard the cast man say.

"I didn't mean to! I didn't mean to do any of this!" I tried to explain to everyone that I was just trying to give him his towel back and he could even have my own to make up for it and that I must have done all of this on accident because I was being rushed by someone waiting for me outside and it was really kind of his fault.

The naked man shook his own towel out, releasing the remainder of my gym clothes, and then he walked to his own locker.

I quickly grabbed the wad of towel and clothes that was now on the floor, stuffed it all in my bag, and got the hell out of there.

I was so distracted by the embarrassment that I didn't remember to beat Skylar in an argument on the way back to the house.

I had nearly forgotten about the whole thing by the next morning when I opened the gym back to empty it out.

I dumped the pile of towel and clothes onto the floor and watched as a pink loofah rolled out of it.

~It Just Gets Stranger