The “elephant in the (locker) room” this week has been a beautiful, young, fit brunette. A beautiful, young, fit brunette who won’t cover her “girls.”
“The Girls” is a slang term for a woman’s breasts. It is so common in these United States that when I tried on a shirt at Chico’s and asked the sales associate if I had the right size, she said, “Oh, yes, if it were any smaller it would smash ‘the girls.'” I knew exactly what she meant. (In my house, “the girls” sometimes means our two female cats, but context usually illuminates the meaning.)
I had hit the locker room ahead of the crowd and was undressing for the shower when I noticed what I had noticed silently earlier in the week. This “elephant” — again — was wearing nothing but a towel around her waist as she spent an inordinate amount of time in front of the mirror in the middle of the locker room.
Sigh. Head shake. Not appropriate in our locker room. It might be American culture or simply our locker room’s culture, but our unwritten rules clearly indicate that nakedness is a transitory state. You undress for the shower or to don a bathing suit for the pool, or you remove your towel or robe to get dressed. You don’t parade your private wares in public. On the rare occasion, a woman has dared to dry her hair or apply makeup topless in front of the mirror, but overall the unwritten rules dictate coverage. This day I averted my eyes, headed to the shower and hoped she’d be gone or at least dressed before I returned.
No such luck.
My friend Marissa approached me as I stood in front of my locker properly clothed in a terrycloth robe that covered all my private bits. I knew Marissa’s topic of conversation almost before she opened her mouth.
“What is that girl’s problem?” she whispered conspiratorially. “Hasn’t she heard of modesty? I can’t stand this.”
As she faced me, her back to the elephant, over her shoulder I spied the young woman and her girls leave the counter space alcove with toothbrush in hand. She came back around the corner moments later, brushing her teeth exuberantly, topless, in the center of the locker room. Not over the sink, certainly another breech of locker room (and home) rules everywhere.
She proceeded to blow dry her hair, put on makeup, and who knows what else while the rest of the ladies in the locker room tried not to see her.
I quickly applied moisturizer and deodorant, then donned my clothes and prepared to leave for the day — when the elephant leaned away from her alcove and looked at me square on.
“I love that blue dress!” she exclaimed, smiling and friendly. “I’ve been watching it all morning hanging outside the locker. What a pretty shade of blue!”
I thanked her and managed a friendly response without looking at her, thinking “We’ve all been trying not to watch you all morning hanging your girls out for all to see” and, in a moment of generosity, thinking “You can have the dress — if you’d just put it on. Now!”
But, as the idiomatic “elephant in the room” suggests, I voiced neither of those thoughts. Nor did anyone else.
The problem remained unaddressed. The woman was still undressed when I left.
Please, keep the girls covered. Don’t make me say it.