What’s the sitch with the YMCA?
I just saw a man blow-drying his balls. He was also blow-drying the pubic hair above. He looked blissful, taken by the warm breeze to another world, free from stress and discord. I found myself staring at him, not so much at his balls, but at his relaxed, broad stance, his subtle smile, the peace in his expression.
We here at whatsthesitch.com are regularly asked by our 12 readers, “How do you come up your topics?” You (as one of the 12) may be surprised to learn how many sitches are inspired by adults openly blow-drying their genitals. This one is no exception.
The man I’m describing was in the men's locker room at the YMCA. He was completely comfortable with his surroundings, inferring from his activity and appearance. That kind of safe, judgement-free space cannot be bought and sold, it can’t be manufactured. It blossoms organically.
I’m embarrassed to say my initial thought at seeing the man was, “He shouldn’t be doing that!” I wasn’t worried about the safety of his balls and their proximity to the bright hot dryer coil. No, I was thinking about the next person to use the blow-dryer, how they may be unaware that it had been used in this fashion, near another’s balls, and that this next person would position that very same dryer near their face. That was my initial, ignorant worry. But, I had forgotten where I was. I was at the YMCA!!I Of course the next person to use the dryer would know it had recently been near a fellow Y-members' balls. Not only would they not mind, that is part of why so many people become members; to feel close to all parts of the community.
I’m also embarrassed to say my very next thought was, “Should I take a picture?” Now, I didn’t want the picture for any strange, erotic, or nefarious reasons, though I do see how it might be interpreted that way. I wanted it as a symbol of all that is great about the Y. And because my friends would think it was funny.
This symbolic image, of a man happily caring for his balls in the middle of a busy locker room, it stuck in my memory. What do his warm balls mean? To me? To our community? What are the positive and magnified downstream effects these warm balls (and the greater YMCA around them) are having? Certainly this man left the Y that day in as good a mood as one can be in. I imagine he whistled a happy tune all the way down the street. Then tipped his server at the coffee shop an extra $5. Then went above and beyond at work, pushing management to give more profits back to local charities. At the end of his day, I’m sure he hugged his wife and children close as soon as he stepped in his front door. The services of the YMCA allowed him to live his best life, and empower those around him as well.
Though these thoughts stewed in my head, I did move on somehow, from the man and his quest. I had just exercised after all. It was time to take a quick steam, a cold shower, get in a warm sweatshirt, and stroll home. I chose an open day-use locker. No need to bring a lock, I trust these folks. There was a vacant one near the communal scale. Just then, an older, girthy fella stepped onto it to weigh himself.
“Whoa! God damn. Seems like every time I get on here it sinks a little bit further into the floor.” He was looking at me, so I guess he thought we were talking. I noticed then that he had a traditional black eyepatch, straight up pirate-Halloween-costume style.
I smiled and replied, “You’re doing great man!” Seemed like the right thing to say, though I wasn’t entirely confident in the statement’s veracity.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right, I am doing pretty well.”
I got undressed. Another older gentleman at an adjacent locker struck up another conversation. “Are you a biker? You ride a bike? You like to bike around?”
He seemed to be asking the same question repeatedly, though with slight variations in sentence structure.
“Yeah I like to bike.” This was not that stimulating of a conversation.
“That’s a mean road rash you got there.” He was pointing at my leg, where I have a large ovular plaque of psoriasis, like from the commercials.
“No, that’s not a scrape.” Quite an assumption on his part, really. “Its psoriasis, I’ve had it for years.”
“Looks pretty gnarly… have you tried cutting dairy out of your diet?”
This was a stranger who struck up a conversation by commenting on my diseased leg skin, and ended it by giving me dietary advice. I appreciated the help.
I finally made it to the steam room after navigating through the conversational mine field of people coming down from the high of their medium-intensity work-outs.
The steam room seats between five and six comfortably, and we were at capacity. In the corner, near the door, a bald man was shaving his head. No cream, just razor scraping raw head. He seemed to be collecting the fine trimmings in his hand, then occasionally wiping said hand on the towel around his waist. I can only assume the overwhelming majority of his head hair trimmings were ending up on the steam room floor.
I stayed as long as I could tolerate the heat, then stumbled out. On the door there was prominent sign with behaviors to avoid while in the steam room. One out of the five or six on the list was, “Please do not shave in the steam room.” I’m sure they didn’t really mean that.
I rinsed off, even remembering a little travel shampoo so I didn’t have to use the hand soap in my hair. I got back to my locker and found it untouched. I dressed quickly in my fresh linens, and floated out of the Y feeling light as a feather, clean as a whistle, soft as a baby’s bottom, cool as a cucumber, etc. Another great workout sesh at our nation’s most uplifting acronym.
In a vacuum, any one of the interactions I had at the Y that day could be construed as rude, awkward, or uncomfortable. But somehow, when these exchanges occur there, they feel different. The Y, through community building, unpretentious woke-ness, and swoll old folks, makes me feel like I can relax. I can fart in a yoga class, or miss the urinal a little bit when I pee, or eat a sandwich on a stationary bike. The Y is a special place, that welcomes all ages and ethnicities, where we can be ourselves, together, in public, and then we can shower afterwards.