Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I go to this old gym now. Much better than that sterile, new-fangled place where I used to work out. Not the same stench of chlorine. This place somehow has an air of human frailty about it. Which is comforting, in a way. It feels real.

Tonight, as I came back to the locker room after working out, I heard singing. This really off-key, but somehow soothing, singing. Part lullaby, part karaoke-style. It was a man, obviously, but he was singing to somebody. I held my breath, as not to interrupt. The singing went on. Lazily. Wearily. Haunting, somehow.

I edged closer to where it was coming from. I just had to know. Who was this man singing to? I came to the corner of a row of lockers, and just as I was about to turn it, the singing was interrupted by a hushed "Dad!" I turned the corner, and in front of me stood one of those overweight, fairly tall, tattooed guy. In the flesh. One of those types you would expect to have a fat Harley standing outside, waiting for them.

Despite all the characteristic, stereo-typical, mean-looking aspects of this human, I caught a glimpse of the most tender look on his face you could imagine, just as he turned to me. He had been looking at his son, who had been sitting sleepily on a bench by their locker. His son was about eight or nine years old. This was who he had been singing for. The kid had this look on his face of embarrassment, and I knew I had interrupted. I could also see exactly what the kid was thinking. He was ashamed of his father's vulnerable side being exposed. To a stranger.

The heavy fellow's face quickly dimmed as he saw me. Then came the curt nick of the head. The kid looked away. I turned and went back to my side of the row of lockers. We were the only ones there. I undressed, and they dressed, in silence. When I came back from showering, they were gone.

Strange beasts, we men.