02 May 2011

The Low Self-Esteem Room

One of my biggest fears is getting caught.

In my own self-evaluation of the sick cycle of hooking-up, I have boiled it down to the lack of confidence I had growing up. For whatever reason, I never fully got over it (kudos to Lean, though). I was the non-athletic, fat kid in school. Toss in being a nerd and ashamed of being gay, and you have the makings of a fabulously timid, hot ass mess. I knew what the stereotypes of gays were. I also knew that if you wanted to be one of the "better gays," you had best hit the gym and start getting cut. Oh, the gym: if those mirrors could talk. The flexing of body parts, the flexing of egos. The cruising, the staring. All healthy aspects of being a new gay.

I was a member of three gyms in my entire life: the university fitness center; a $30 dollar basement gym; and the luxury gym I belong to now.The university gym was pretty decent. I usually went with my fraternity brothers and it was mostly goof-off hour for me. Because I didn't know how to lift, I just picked up the light stuff with high repetitions . . . er, reps. My brothers would try to show me what to do, but I never knew at what frequency to do the damned exercises or at what point you decided that you could take off your leopard-print leotard - come on: it's important to know. Needless to say, I graduated and don't go there anymore.

The $30 dollar basement gym was a gym I will always remember. My first trainer was a Cadbury chocolate stud with charm that would rival that of the Southern Decadence boys. He showed me what to target and how to target them pesky love-handles. He showed me how to use the machines and how to get in the zone. It was great. But when the fluorescent lights burst into flames, I knew it was time to look for another facility.

I have belonged to my current gym for about 5 years; it's one of those luxury, boutiquey gyms that blasted club music and had amenities coming out of your ass including a spa, athletic-gear shop, as well as a sauna and steam room whose membership dues are a buck and change, making it only possible to the financially stable to join. Up until Queer as Folk, I always thought steam rooms were just moist and dingy hang outs for balding, old farts who wanted to talk about mowing the lawn or the finance reports they were currently working on whilst heartily laughing and elbowing each other. Little did I know when I joined my current gym of the true to life orgy it is or can be.

A month into joining, I felt like I had reached a turning point in my physical goals and gathered up enough courage to venture into the steam room in just a curiously small body towel which barely fit around my enormous package . . . kidding. But the towel was small, more of a hand towel, I felt. The "oontz, oontz, oontz" bass beats of the low, locker room music were drowned out as I walked into the den of ill-repute and shut the door. I was vacuum-sealed in. I could hardly see anything, but as I neared the warm, tiled bench, I had a seat. The fog cleared up some and I noticed five others.

Every 30 seconds or so, you would hear the clearing of a throat, a forced cough, or the sound of someone wiping away sweat off their skin. But other than that, it was pretty silent. I felt like I walked into a room when people were talking but immediately stop because, guess what, they were talking about me. But they weren't. The "Steam Room Culture" (if there is such a culture) is interesting - to me at least:

Someone walks in. Silence. Someone starts to caress their body, seductive-like. Another person coughs and stands quick to "fix" their towel, by un-tucking it so their waist and thigh can be seen. Another "adjusts themselves" for a prolonged moment. Insert pregnant pause. And let the games begin. Hangs flying. Another on the look-out. Another on their knees. Another the center of attention. Another on the side-lines - that would be me . . . fast forward a few months later? I was the guy on his knees not being cruised out on the floor.

Point of the conversation: Skip the steam and take a cold-shower lest you become a whore.

- DeeCue

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