It is common knowledge that men's locker rooms are dangerous places capable of truly altering the direction of any young man's life, but I never imagined the day that my life was forever changed.
I was there to shoot around, as if I was a good coach or a good pair of shoes away from lacing it up with Kobe and running the floor with Nash.
I had my Jordan shorts tied tight, my compression shorts snugly holding everything in its place. I even had my ball, a good one too, not one of those indoor/outdoor imposters. I was ready to go.
I entered the locker room fully conscious of his presence. Of course I couldn't have the locker room to myself, that would just be selfish of me. I walked, eyes glued to the rows of empty lockers, through the steam billowing out of the prison-like public showers.
In my opinion, public bathing should have died along with the Roman empire. Perhaps it did and the few that continue to do so are bringing up the rear. I keep my mouth closed though and sit in front of my locker.
Seventeen armbands: Check.
Finger strap: Check.
It's all there. I'm ready for my audition. I had heard through the grapevine that the second cousin of some scout's son-in-law is in the stands, so I had prepared the proper mixtape and had adequately pumped myself up. All that is left is to do is lace up the Nikes.
I take a seat on the heavily lacquered pine bench in the center of the room. Father Time is still in the shower so I should be able to sneak out without any incident.
I put in my headphones and lean forward to tie my shoes. Right first for luck. I shift my weight left and perform a top notch bunny-ear method. Just as I am tightening up the final loop, though, I begin to stand and lift my head simultaneously.
There I sit, face to face with old junk. Perhaps he was steaming to get the wrinkles out, but he sneaked up with no sense of shame and with no towel.
In a split second my life changed. After pulling myself off the floor (as I had fallen backward off the bench in a last ditch effort to save my eyes) I hastily gathered my things and walked to the parking lot.
I've never really gotten over that moment. The locker room will never be the same, and God knows I won't be returning to that Rec Center, but I doubt that will be the last time.
For Heaven's sake, can I buy you a towel?