The sisterhood of the traveling blow dryer…

Photo illustration because clearly this is not the black blow dryer we share nor is it the jeans we do not share.
Photo illustration (because clearly this is not the black blow dryer we share nor are these the jeans we do not share).

Thursday morning, I needed the black blow dryer, the only blow dryer that is movable at the health club.

“Sure, hon, anything you want,” responded Donna to my request. She was perched on her usual Tuesday/Thursday stool at the counter that contains every blow dryer the women’s locker room offers (that would be three). “Do you need anything else? I’ll give it to you. I’ll give you anything — except my spot!”

She laughed and smiled, as did I, but she wasn’t kidding. (Although I suspect if I had some sort of medical reason why I needed the spot, she might share.)

I sometimes dare to take her chosen spot, but only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays when she isn’t there. She is next to the blow dryers, has a stool, and is closest to the ceiling fan and the conversation. It’s not that she has some claim to the spot; it’s not that I’m afraid to take it. It’s locker room etiquette (and the fact that she always beats me to it).

Since August, I have been exercising and getting ready for work at the health club. The routine works for me; I am usually too tired by the end of the school day and want nothing more than to step into my socks and Crocs (yes, sad but true) and stay home. At first, I was a bit intimidated, getting ready with all these strangers, but the strangers have become friends — either from the various classes I take or simply because of our proximity in the locker room. 

(And, for the record, Donna actually has lent me her own personal blow dryer when the others have been in use. She is nice like that — though it does beg the question “why?” she sits where she does when she also carries her own dryer.)

A few days ago, when I wanted to look my most professional because of an accreditation team visiting our school, I couldn’t get to the blow dryers. It was a Wednesday, when another pair of women put all their bags (and, eventually, their bodies) at the counter — before they get a shower. They take the counter spots nearest to the mounted hair dryers, essentially laying claim to them or at least making them completely inaccessible. That day, the movable black blow dryer was in extensive use by the person in the middle.

Sigh. After waiting somewhat patiently, putting on my makeup and otherwise readying myself for work in the interim, I finally gave up on getting the coveted dryer for my hair, attempted to flat iron just the bangs (“I got fsssss steam heat…”), and went to work with the wet look. Though I knew I’d feel a bit unkempt all day and was disappointed, I wasn’t about to mess with the locker room sisterhood.

That day, Connie told us about her first experience getting ready in the locker room, when she’d waited for one of the four dressing rooms, all in use except one, which was being “reserved” by someone’s belongings. When Connie realized just “stuff” was “using” the room, she gently moved it out of the way so she could get ready herself. Before she finished dressing, however, the owner of the stuff approached and tapped on the doors (think bar doors in the Wild West), insisting it was her space. Connie said she was almost finished and would be out in a minute; the woman exclaimed, “How rude!”

I’m pretty sure she must have been talking about herself. She should have. But Connie has never used a dressing room since.

The locker room is a sisterhood. We are friendly (except for, you know, the “reservationists” who take up dressing rooms and counter space before they’re out of the shower). We greet new people. We say “hello” and “goodbye, Ladies.” We catch up on each other’s news. In a way, we hold each other accountable to working out: “Where has Candy been?” We scoot over a few inches when someone needs the mounted blow dryers or happens to have the locker next to ours. We hand off the traveling blow dryer when someone needs it (at least, most days). We borrow; we lend. We chuckle when someone forgets something (such as the shoes I forgot to pack a week or so ago; I wore my Crocs all day at school, always the consummate professional).  We compliment outfits; we ask, “Where did you get that?” and find that most are as miserly as ourselves. We seek advice. We lament our diminishing eyesight and increasing hot flashes (not there, yet, thankfully!). It is like getting ready in the dorm bathroom before heading off to college classes for the day. Except we get paid — sort of. These are my locker room sisters.

Many, many years ago, I read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, wherein a circle of friends determine that one pair of thrift-shop jeans makes each one of them (regardless of their shape) look great — so great that they make a pact to share them. They separate for the summer, taking turns wearing the jeans, and then mailing them to the next person. It seems the most significant events of the summer happen when one of the sisterhood is wearing the jeans, and the next person always gets them in the nick of time. (It is actually a great series about sisterhood or friendship.)

Yeah. I guess titling this post “The sisterhood of the traveling blow dryer…” is a bit of a stretch. The blow dryer rarely makes my hair look good, and not much of significance happens while I’m using it. Though my “sisters” and I are in the same room and not having to mail the thing, sometimes I don’t get it in the nick of time — or any time at all that morning.

But trust me. “Sisterhood of the traveling blow dryer” is more realistic than “Sisterhood of the traveling pants.” We may be a sisterhood, but we don’t share genes — or jeans. We share a health club for a reason. It — like the blow dryer — is “one size fits all.” Just saying.

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