I’ve been in plenty of locker rooms.  I grew up in the American public school system after all, an institution that at least nods toward the importance of health with physical education requirements that include changing into a P.E. uniform.  Plus I played soccer all four years of high school.  This often meant changing into practice clothes or my uniform before games.

So you’d think the locker room would be familiar territory.  And yet…

You know that scene in Sixteen Candles?  The one where Samantha and her friend lurk in the shower doorway, discussing all the ways the senior girl’s “bod” is so much more fabulous than their own?  (And there goes every young male reader to Google search.  All three of them, anyway.)  I have exactly zero memories like this.  Not the comparing myself to other teens part ’cause girls, but of showering in a locker room.  Not even one.

And now you’re either thinking I’ve blocked it out or ewwwww, you never showered?!  Either way, it is what it is.

I remember scurrying to change into my P.E. uniform, moving at the speed of light so as to spend the least amount of time possible in my skivvies.  And I remember hustling to change back into school clothes so I wouldn’t be late to my next class.  What do I not remember? Standing around in a towel talking about another girl’s boobs or casually chatting in my underwear and bra about the latest geometry quiz.

And I wouldn’t have thought twice about any of this if I hadn’t gone on a health kick while the kids were toddlers.

I wasn’t getting much grownup time so my ears perked up when another preschool mom mentioned she worked out at the YMCA.  Her kids were the same age as mine, and I thought having friends with them in ChildWatch would ease the mommy guilt of dropping them in there.  (I know.  I’m laughing that I even hesitated at grabbing some sanity saving time, too.) Conveniently enough, we were also members of the Y – the kind with great intentions but a spotty attendance record – so that made giving this plan a shot simple.

There’s a two hour limit for ChildWatch (big shock, right?) so the first week I’d drop them off, take a Pilates class, hit the treadmill/elliptical/weights, and then we’d all head home.  I did this a few times before identifying one major problem: using my two hours to work out meant I’d go home sweaty and exhausted then have to wait eight hours for BrightSide’s arrival so I could shower.  (Nope, I wasn’t one of those moms who figured out how to shower with toddlers in the house.)

But then I noticed what the other moms were doing.  They’d take the Pilates class and then hit the locker room.  Some of them spent some time in a steam room, but most of us used the time to clean up and enjoy grownup conversation.  About anything we wanted.  Without small people demanding water or snacks or that we “watch this!!”.  It sounded like a sweet setup.

Enter the enormous learning curve of being a locker room virgin in my thirties.

Talk about an adjustment.  I’m supposed to strip down to my birthday suit with people everywhere?  Ignore the urge to cover up when someone walks past in the shower?  Roll with the fact that people are chatting with me while my boobs are hanging out?!

I hung in there most of the time, but I’ll tell you…I never really could jam with turning around to find a naked lady bent over, digging around in her gym bag for God only knows what.  There are some visuals you just can’t unsee, you know?

In a lot of ways I wish I was that lady who just doesn’t give a damn.  It looks a lot simpler that way.  But I think that ship may have sailed, as far as locker rooms go.  I think I’ll keep my blood pressure down and just shower at home from now on.