Last week there was an article in the New York Times entitled, “Men’s Locker Room Designers Take Pity on Naked Millenials.” The alert reader would learn therein that “Each day thousands upon thousands of men in locker rooms nationwide struggle to put on their underwear while still covered chastely in shower towels, like horrible breathless arthropods molting into something skinned. They writhe, still moist, into fresh clothes.” Now that sentence warrants a second glance… “thousands upon thousands…nationwide…horrible breathless arthopods molting…” Meanwhile, “Old-timers, guys that are 60-plus, have no problem with a gang shower and whatever,” said Bryan Dunkelberger, a founding principal of a firm that designs gyms.
Actually I didn’t learn about this behavior from the article, but from personal observation. As an instructor helping people get over their fear of water, I spend a lot of time in men’s locker rooms. I didn’t use to think anything of getting naked and showering, but these millenials have a modesty, or perhaps better called inhibition, that is undeniable. When I get naked now I almost feel like I’m doing something brazen. For members of a generation in which twerking is considered an art form and sexting is a norm, pix included, it’s remarkable and hard to explain. You would think the 60-plus-ers would be the ones who would want to hide behind their towels.
I don’t know for sure, but with a lot of “chaste” behavior there is the odor of shame. Shame is one of fear’s mutant cousins. What are they afraid of? Is it just men? Is it an American syndrome? And what, Mr. Dunkelberger, do you mean by “…and whatever”?