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The sign on the door declares: “No girls of any age allowed in the men’s locker room!”

I had to stop for a moment and ponder; do we really need to have signs like this? Are women desperately trying to sneak into the men’s locker room by pretending to be underage? This seemed as useful to me as an admonition like, “Children are not allowed to play with the alligators,” or “No hand grenades allowed on the plane.”

However, to assuage the curiosity of you ladies hankerin’ to get into our locker room, let me tell you you ain’t missing much. This may be a huge surprise to some of you, but we guys are not very neat creatures. As a result, our locker room area is strewn with jock straps, towels, powder, food, Ace bandages.

In addition, it can appear that every locker door must be stuck open and guys stand around chattering in various stages of undress which leads to our next sign:

“Please be considerate of others and wear a towel in common areas of the locker room, including the sauna!”

Something tells me that there’s no need to post this warning over in the ladies locker room. And I wish that a lot of the older gents would comply with these stated rules. Have you ever seen those desktop curios called “Newton’s Cradle”? Rather than the series of five pendulums showing the hypnotizing effect of colliding spheres, they give us a disturbing real-life demonstration while ambling over to their lockers.

Let’s continue our tour by exploring the shower area. Here, much to the amusement (or confusion) of most women I know, men partake in the curious practice of “gang showering.” This cleansing method seems to me to be a cleverly efficient use of space.

I’m told that, contrary to many men’s fantasies, no woman would engage in such revealing behavior. Instead, the gals have individual showers where cleaning involves multiple fragrances and potions, at least two towels (just for my information, what’s that “turban” towel for, anyway?) and the entire hot water supply of north-central Massachusetts.

Back in the men’s showers, we guys discuss important world events like, “They should sterilize all Republicans!” (or “Democrats” it depends on the audience), or “We should execute all lawyers, present company excepted, of course.”

Have you noticed that there aren’t a lot of gray areas in men’s conversations (or gray matter, you’re thinking right?). And this back and forth on a rather short list of “very important” topics takes place while washing, rinsing and strenuously avoiding glancing downward. Eavesdropping on such discussions often makes me feel like an audience member of a male “The View” episode.

As you step out of the showers, you’ll notice the sauna across the way. Above the door is the control panel with yet another sign. This one reads: “Recommended setting is VI. Setting the Sauna at VII may cause an overload!”

I don’t think that guys should ever be presented with such powerful options. I’m pretty sure that the Three Mile Island disaster was started when a worker discovered a sign saying: “WARNING — Throwing this lever will create massive amounts of electricity but could also cause core meltdown!”

While we wait for the lights to come back on, we follow our guide to the sinks/toilet room. What bonehead thought it would be a good idea to install all this porcelain in one area? A cacophony of otherworldly sounds, unspeakable sights and eye-watering fumes assault the senses at the same time you’re shaving and trying to feel “fresh as a daisy.” More than once I’ve been tempted to call 911, certain that a member has expired in the throes of gut-wrenching agony in a nearby stall.

I was bemused one day to find that the club’s staff had mounted mirrors on the back wall of the sink area. I am one of those guys who will emerge from the showers without toweling off and then shaving while everything’s still wet. Now, unfortunately (thanks to these new decorations) while performing this grooming routine, I am disturbed by an image reflected in my mirror that is normally reserved for nurses armed with tetanus boosters.

Oh yeah, another thing about the men’s locker rooms there’s water everywhere! We use copious amounts of the stuff and can’t be bothered to mop up afterwards. (My guess is that most of you ladies discovered this already daily when entering the bathroom in your pantyhose just after your partner has finished with his morning ritual.)

To add insult to injury, we have not had hot water in the showers now for quite a while. We guys are certain that the ladies have exhausted the club’s meager supply, but in any event it leads to a lot of strange contortions as we try to shampoo and shower while exposing as little epidermis as possible to the frigid spray. And if you weren’t aware already, cold water is not very kind to us fellows, and perhaps this (in an effort to spare considerable embarrassment) is the actual reason for posting the “No girls” sign in the first place.

Gary Atkinson is 52, divorced and remarried. He has four children from 27 to 9, with his first grandchild on the way. He moved to Townsend in 2006, just in time to learn of the “catch and release alligator program” in his neighborhood, and has been working at Bemis in Shirley for 23 years. He can be reached at