Showdown at the Locker Room Mirror

Locker rooms are strange places which I make a point of not spending much time in. It would be ideal if I could avoid them altogether, as I prefer to shower and change at home, but today’s circumstances necessitated my making use of one at the gym. “Who knows?”, I said to myself, “maybe it won’t be so weird this time”.

This particular facility is laid out such that the full length mirrors parallel to each other, on either wall of the room, make it impossible not to see what’s going on with the other occupants of said [room]. Which struck me as being weird, given that the majority of what’s going on in there is total strangers getting naked while sweating profusely. So when I walk in, there is no escaping the sight of him — no matter where I position myself (and trust me, I tried every position possible). Him being a man, let’s call him “Phillip”.

Phillip is a man, a very special man; he is a man is without a shirt. I know what you’re thinking, “what’s the big deal?”. Well, let me tell you. The big deal is that Phillip, who looks to be some 30 or so years of age, has a distinctive upper body. He’s very fit, Phillip is (indeed that seemed to be the root of the problem), but the thing is that Phillip, well…he appears to suffer from hypertrichosis.

Body hair, a lot of it, and I do mean A LOT. Phillip has the most body hair that I have ever seen on a human being — bar fucking none. I have seen Kuwaiti oil tycoons who could easily be mistaken for gorillas, sitting shamelessly in ill fitting speedos on pristine white beaches, being slathered with tanning oil by some utterly lost soul inhabiting the walking cadaver of a Russian escort. These men are not easy on the eyes, to be sure.

But Phillip is in a class of his own. As I said, he’s in very good shape — probably in his physical prime. The man’s not bad looking either. It’s just that his torso is completely dominated by a thick layer of what can’t be less than two inches of coarse black hair. This is not my criticism of Phillip, not yet. It is an observation. Right now, all I’m saying is that Phillip looks like he’s a maître d’ who is wearing the standard uniform that is the black vest, only the vest is made of hair.

Which is fine. We’ve all got our quirks. My criticism of the man — and I don’t think it’s unjustly made — is that he is standing in front of the full length mirror for all to see (all being myself and a wonderfully awkward Asian fellow who knows even less about how to handle the situation than I do) basking in the motherfucking glory that is Phillip. This guy is drinking it in like a devout Catholic at First Communion, I promise you.

Phillip is so goddamned enamored with the singular enigma of male beauty that is Phillip, that he evidently fails to notice the other two occupants of the locker room, let alone their visible discomfort and intense disgust at his truly unprecedented display of self-obsession. We’re just standing there, the Asian man and I, trying desperately not to make eye contact with Phillip — which really isn’t necessary, given how unlikely it is that Phillip will be taking his eyes off himself at any point in the near or distant future.

And so we’re trying to get changed as quickly as possible — like, really quickly, as if we just got done with a UFC fighter’s wife and he’s pulling up in the driveway. But we’re both so distracted by what’s going on that it’s hard to stay focused. Let’s be honest, you don’t see displays of narcissism and literal self-worship like this every day — this may very well be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Even harder is trying not to laugh, and I’m not doing a very good job. The Asian guy is too scared to do so outright, but we make eye contact a few times and he can’t help but smile. Meanwhile, Phillip is flexing every single solitary muscle in his body, and thoroughly, at that. He’s turning full circle, so as to ensure a 360 degree appreciation of the singularly flawless Phillip physique. He slowly extends his arms and flexes his abs such that the vest of hair ripples in a way that is deeply unsettling.

It takes me exactly four minutes to change. I know this because I wanted to be able to quantify exactly how fucking vain Phillip is. Needless to say, vanity is inherently accompanied by insecurity. I know this because I suffer badly from both. But a public exhibition of exhibitionism such as this is beyond even the likes of me, and certainly those of my luckless Asian companion.

Eventually I can’t take it anymore, and decide to leave Phillip to have some much needed alone time with Phillip. My mind reels in considering what Phillip is like at home. Does he have mirrors on every wall of his house? Is said house a literal house of mirrors? What does he do when he can’t find a mirror? Does he have Phillip withdrawals? How the fuck can he have so much body hair?

The experience was heinously uncomfortable and in all likelihood unforgettable. I am glad that I had someone else to endure it with, but wish sincerely never to see Phillip again. Phillip, who is totally bald, by the way.

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