Personal space is one of those things I often believe to be overrated.
We all want enough elbow room to feel like we can breathe, and we all need some small place to call our own that is not subject to the intrusion of others. Beyond that, if you can't accept the fact that there are many people sharing your world who will occasionally, if not frequently, invade your personal space, then you run a high likelihood of needing psychotherapy, or medication, at some point in your life.
A reasonable approach to personal space can keep us from sounding like the first-grader I heard a couple years ago when picking up my sons from school. Another kid was hanging on him, talking non-stop, not picking up on the visual cues that his friend didn't care what he was saying and didn't want want to be followed. When he'd finally had enough of the yammering in his ear, the kid on the receiving end stopped and yelled:
"You're in my bubble!"
Lately, there have been times I've wanted to yell at people about my bubble. I can talk myself out of the temptation most of the time, but there is one situation that has been seriously testing my resolve to behave like an adult. I should explain.
The gym locker room and I are not old friends. It's only been in recent years, thanks to My Lovely Wife, that I have gone to the gym with any regularity. My participation in fitness classes has nothing to do with a desire to go to the gym. Instead, my participation is motivated by two things: (1) wanting to spend time with My Lovely Wife, and (2) not wanting to die. You can't eat the way I like to eat without exercising and not expect to add an inch to your waistline every year, so physical fitness had to enter into the picture before insulin and stomach stapling were required to.
For those of you not acquainted with a men's locker room, it is a spacious area that smells like feet and houses several hundred clean lockers, only five of which are ever in use at any given time and they are always directly next to one another.
Regardless of which locker I choose, someone will enter immediately after me and choose the locker next to mine. When I return to the locker room in my poofy-butted cycle shorts after having sweated out the weight of a small child and try to change into my street shoes for the ride home, there undoubtedly will be a gaggle of men teaming around my locker and using up all the free bench space.
Now, it isn't the fact that I am a magnet for all the whacked-out weirdos in the locker room that bothers me. It's the fact that I am a magnet for all the naked whacked-out weirdos in the locker room that bothers me.
Chalk it up to my years of not playing interscholastic sports, or to my never having spent any quality time in a federal penitentiary, but I would rather not be in such close proximity to other men who are naked. I don't even like being in close proximity to myself when I'm naked. If I could make me wait in another room while I got naked, that would be a major enhancement to the quality of my life.
And, personal space aside, if you're going to plant your naked ass on the locker room bench while you spend the next twelve minutes drying the webbing between your toes and powdering your privates, please put a towel down first. Freshly-showered or not, I do not need to be subjected to any particular matter left behind, or to hear the suction release when you finally hoist your keister from its perch.
So I'm going to take a deep breath (before entering the locker room), try to choose a locker in a corner of the room no one else knows about, and keep clear of the naked men, because I'm not sure how well it would go over if I were to yell at scantily clad septuagenarians to get out of my bubble.
© 2014 Mark Feggeler