What We Talk About in Locker Rooms

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Oct 122017

After basketball, the guys like to hand out a minute or two in the locker room to catch up. We talk about the game and our particular prowess that day. Ha! We also get serious and other topics come up. One team member mentioned that a friend had gotten mugged and that he had surprised the attacker with mace. I am one of those self defense novices who doesn’t even know the difference between mace and pepper spray so a heated discussion ensued about which is worse.

Mace is actually a brand that usually rolls off the tongue when discussing tear gas and pepper spray. They are used in warfare (according to movies and TV) and by the police. They are one of the most popular modes of self defense for ordinary citizens. The old chemical mace is off the market due to reported injuries. The brand now covers all the related products.

I was surprised to learn that mace and tear gas are not effective on people under the influence. How odd. Pepper spray, on the other hand, does work. I wanted to know more so I looked it up online when I got home from the game – here’s the source I found: https://www.selfdefenseguide.org/mace-pepper-bear-spray-differences/. Pepper spray will render a robber incapacitated for up to an hour. As an inflammatory agent, it will provoke coughing, choking and nausea. Plus, it dilates the capillaries of the eyes causing temporary blindness. It is a pretty scary experience.

Tear gas is an alternative that is composed of a white crystal in sec-butanol. Here’s what happens: the eyes water and burn and the nose and mouth feel like they are on fire. It is awful to say the least. Coughing and choking follow. I am not sure why assailants who are high do not respond. Nor do people who are violent and insane. They just don’t feel the effects. Pepper spray for some reason works on all these individuals who are otherwise impervious to pain. It lasts longer and causer greater discomfort. Thus, it makes the better choice and is legal where tear gas is not always.

Wow. I have said a lot. Do you want more? While we are on the subject, I want to mention that I read how important it is to learn the right way to use pepper spray, whatever the brand. You can practice ahead of time. I also read that nothing works if you don’t take it with you and this seems like very wise advice. Keep it in your backpack or pocket if you are concerned about personal safety. Training and education about self defense will help make the spray work for you.

 Posted by at 10:33 am

The Comforts of Home

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May 092017

The first I ever heard of a germaphobe was when watching reruns of the old TV series, Monk. The quirky character, a private investigator and police consultant, was an obsessive compulsive who was terrified of getting sick. He wouldn’t touch anything without gloves and drove everyone around him crazy. I looked up the word and found that it means an obsession with sanitation and keeping clean, which includes the environment. Although the gentle detective worked the filthy San Francisco streets, he managed to avoid contamination. By scrubbing is hands after shaking hands with anyone, he felt in control. Monk triumphs in spite of his condition and solves crime after crime.

I see a lot of myself in this gumshoe. While I don’t have the rituals of washing and cleaning constantly, I do have one bugaboo. I don’t like to use any toilet except my own. It is not that it is unique – just a run-of-the mill model, but I keep it scrupulously clean. I often spend hours maintaining it and I Rate My Toilet as the cleanest one I’ve ever seen. On that note, I will use no other facility. This means no travel and staying close to home. Fortunately, I work in the vicinity and my gym is around the corner. It has a full-size basketball court so you will find me there most nights, even for a quick game after work. As you know, this sport can get competitive and intense. I love to work off all the day’s anxiety. Plus, it is a great social occasion as I see my buddies and it keeps me in shape and at the right weight for my height. I take a shower before I leave. You might think this is odd for a germaphobe, but somehow I believe they are sufficiently clean. I will wait until I walk in my front door before I think about heading to the bathroom.

Yes, it can be an inconvenience. I don’t drink much water during breaks in the game as a result. This poses a problem for the times when I am pouring sweat. I imbibe a bottle or two after the game as I change my clothes. One day I almost didn’t make it home. I was walking at a fast pace, my usual gait, but when I reached the corner, I heard sirens and noticed that the walkway was blocked. There had been an armed robbery and no one was allowed to pass. We were signaled to halt our progress by a couple of beat officers. I was asked to move aside until the detective on the case could question me. I stared blankly into space, afraid to mention that I needed to relieve myself ASAP. Finally, I blurted it out and an officer pushed me into a doorway of a café. How could I explain to him that I couldn’t use the toilet?

“It’s new,” he muttered. “I’ve used it.”
“I don’t care,” I said.
“Don’t kid around. We have a situation here,” he said with irritation.
“Do you remember Monk?” I asked. “Need I say more?”

 Posted by at 8:09 am

Horse at 2 AM

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Feb 112017

Any form of basketball is okay by my, even playing a night game of horse at 2:00am after watching a couple of old videos of great games with the guys. It puts you in the mood and if there is an outdoor court nearby you can illuminate it with the headlights of a few cars and add the illumination of a bright tactical LED flashlight. This is my idea of fun at odd hours of the night when you feel no desire to sleep. Are you familiar with the game? I have provided some basic rules.

You can play horse with two or more people. The guys just have to decide the order of play—who goes first, second, etc. Or if you prefer, you can take turns shooting from the same location and the player who gets the most baskets goes first. This is a simple way to start.

At this point, the first player takes a shot. He can decide where on the court as he wishes and it becomes a challenge shot. The only rule here is that he must announce any contingencies for the challenge before he tries to make the basket. A contingency could be “I am shooting with my eyes closed” or another such statement.

After this challenge shot, the next player in turn gives it a try. If the first attempt was successful, this second player must perform the same action at the point where the first was standing on the court. But if the first player missed, the second has the option of shooting now from any place he likes and now he invents a new challenge.

The game continues on in the same manner—a player makes a shot and the next must copy it unless he missed. A new challenge is invented in the course of the game. After the last player has taken his shot, it now reverts to the first one.

If a player fails a challenge, meaning he misses the basket, he gets a letter beginning with “H.” Every mistake entails a new letter until the word “horse is spelled out. At this point, the player involved loses the game. The only rule to know here is that a player inventing a challenge cannot get a letter. This means that if he misses his shot, the ball passes to the next person on the team with no penalty. It’s not as confusing as it sounds. Another point to remember is that if a challenge is invented, and all players ensuing make their turn at shooting, you get to invent a new challenge. This keeps things interesting.

The play goes on until there is but one person remaining. If a player gets a “HORSE,” he has to leave the game. The rest of the players continue playing according to the rules. Thus, at the end of the game, there is one winner left in the game. He can now rejoice and buy the next round of drinks or go hope happy.

 Posted by at 9:30 am

The Worst Locker Rooms

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Jan 282015

Talking about locker rooms is infinitely less interesting than talking about the game. On that subject, you can drone on for hours. That said, there are times when a mention or two is in order. Basketball players, like other athletes, usually travel whether they are amateurs in a league or pros. And when they do, conditions are not always optimum. You get used to it. When you win, who cares? You are on a high. But when you are down, less than cleanly surroundings become very noticeable.

Home games are a treat for this reason. You can count on spick and span floors, shining chrome shower heads, and pristine toilets. There is no motivation for the opposition to provide A-one conditions for your benefit. You get what you get and if their habits are nastier than yours, so be it. On more than one occasion, while playing far from home, my team has feared and experienced the worst: going home with a bad case of toenail fungus from the showers. We hate it, we loathe it, and we avoid it. When it is handed to us on a silver platter, we politely say no. But it is forced down our throats, all the way to the bottom so to speak.

So you get it anyway. Even clean showers have secret stashes of the moldy stuff. Out come the creams, the sprays and the powders in defense. There are lotions and potions just for this purpose. They work to a degree, but we would rather not get the fungus in the first place. Some of us have resorted to flip flops. They are a great solution and highly recommended. Run out and get them no matter where you play, even if you are certain nothing is growing in your home gym shower stall. Locker room etiquette is what it is about and taking precautions is not wimpy at all.

Have you seen the yellowish-black disease? It invades the insidiously and stays put forever. The nail bed love onychomycosis, which is also known as dermatophytic onychomycosis or tinea unguium. Sounds bad and it kinda is from an aesthetic perspective. It can deform your nails and cause ingrowns that hurt. It is unpleasant and unwanted. Athlete’s foot is very curable, but a real deep down fungus takes a lot of time and effort. Some take pills, some daub on prescription drops, some give up. It must be common because there are at least a thousand touted magic remedies on the Internet. Is it all from locker rooms? Maybe. They are the hot bed of fungal germination.

So, in sum, while locker rooms are not top on my list of sports topics, they do remind me to remind you to watch out where you tread. You can’t be too careful or you will be 1. Grossing people out from here on out and 2. Shelling out a lot of wasted cash. Personally I go with doctor’s medications rather than lemon juice and vinegar. Somehow that stubborn mess is resistant to anything natural.

 Posted by at 4:45 am

Shower Room Stories

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Jan 282015

Someone asked me a rather weird question. Does anything interesting go on in sports showers? Any secret handshakes or odd rituals? Something suspect or salacious? The answer is no, happily no, not surprisingly, no. I am not sure what the person was looking for exacgtly. Maybe an exposé of some type. If it were possible to recount some dicey stuff, we would all know about it by now after over a century of sports and the subsequent ubiquitous shower time. They do come in all shapes and sizes, just like the guys, but that is as far as it goes. I, for one, have no knowledge of a secret cabal or mad knifing.

The game is everything and you give your all. If you do, you are darn tired. Then its’ shower time. End of story. Some of you have seen too many movies, or high school escapades that just don’t pertain to grown men. Someone’s imagination has been working overtime. Sometimes you are just too tired to bother with anything but the high pressure shower head and its steady steamy stream. If the water isn’t hot, there may be some minimal revolt.

If someone is obnoxious, they are stifled mighty fast. Throwing anything isn’t much fun. Jokes are not to be tolerated, nor pranks, nor barbs and slings of a verbal nature. As for anything physical like duking it out—as previously stated, the answer is no.

So is it all boring and staid? Yes. Does it mean it is uninteresting? Yes. I was asked to tell tales and frankly I couldn’t come up with any. Maybe you can. I think better of athletes than to assume that people are tormented or mocked in the shower stall. Guys aren’t that petty. Don’t translate those women’s prison movies to men. It just doesn’t apply. It does make for good drama however. But if you are looking for tips to put in your screenplay script, kindly go elsewhere.

The most exciting thing I’ve seen lately is that one player slipped and fell. It was due to a slick soapy floor. We rushed to the rescue and did not let him wallow in water for long. No harm done, just a milk sprain. No medics or EMTs. No ambulance or panic. Now we watch the soap and keep it under thumb so to speak. We watch where we step and upon whom. We are considerate and kind. No surprise.

I do recall a few times when playing out of town and encountering less than clean facilities to my chagrin. Does that count? I could describe the layers of dirt around the drain, the telltale footprints, the grimy sink. A few of the shower heads sprayed in wildly different directions and we all had a good laugh about it—and not more. Grubby gyms are not unfamiliar and no one likes to frequent them. Complaints are definitely in order. So nothing to get excited about unless you find mold magical.

So…no secrets…no lies….nothing at all to hide. If you think otherwise, stand corrected.

 Posted by at 1:47 am