From the Loser

By Tim Drugan-Eppich

take great pride in not being surprised by much. I try to be ready for any outcome no matter the situation. When I hear a bump in the night and go to check it out, if there is a crazy clown armed with a bloody axe, I would be a little frightened, but not surprised. I feel I’m ready for anything. But I wasn’t ready for what I saw on my last visit to the gym locker room.

I know working out is good for you, and people do it for a wide array of reasons. Reasons like training for a sport, looking good for one’s partner, or just being able to better operate in day-to-day activities. What I didn’t know was that a new reason has been emerging, a reason that was shown to me by some fellas in the locker room.

A hoard of male students, donned only in their boxers, was crowded around a mirror. As I walked by, looking for an empty locker, I noticed they were all flexing with all their might, admiring themselves and each other’s muscles — or perceived muscles. Many were providing each other with compliments on their physique, asking for tips on how to enlarge a certain body part. It was only four or five guys, but I had never seen anything like this before, so the effect on me was striking.

I completely forgot why I was at the gym and instead sat back to watch how this scenario played out. Previously, my locker room experiences had been quiet, with perhaps one or two guys cracking jokes, but almost no open admiration of one’s own body. Now I was faced with a phenomenon that I had never thought I would witness, so I had to take it in, for science.

Following the flexing session, the locker room filled with the sound of vigorous shaking of bottles containing protein and other powders, many of which I’m sure had ingredients that would leave doctors with sweaty palms. Each member of the group touted the combination of chemicals being ingested, citing research and other scientific data of which he was most certainly an expert. I sat back trying to hide my noticeably unmuscular body, nervous they might turn their advising session in my direction.

After this, they began to get dressed. I thought it might have been just a coincidence that all of them waited until the last possible moment to put on their shirts. But then, they all simultaneously reconvened around the mirror for another round of straining, grunting, and self-congratulations. I realized that the shirts would be left off indefinitely if they didn’t have other commitments to attend to. Like Narcissus who died on the forest floor looking at his reflection in the stream, these guys would have been a pile of bones in front of the mirror if they didn’t have class to go to, or a meal of protein to go eat.

At this point I thought the show was over. But then a most striking conversation began, one that if I had not been already seated, would have taken care of that for me. The discussion centered around the concept of “manscaping.”

These college students, guys who were priding themselves on their manliness, proceeded to discuss with one another their grooming practices both above and below the belt. Like discovering a unicorn, I was witnessing something no one had ever seen before. Rife with references from which kind of razor worked best for chest hair, to how to properly wax one’s back, it was a conversation that astounded me. Here I was, assuming these guys were as follicly challenged as me, only to find out that a huge part of their day was spent plucking, waxing, and shaving hair from every crevice of their bodies.

I don’t know how much longer they were in the locker room. All I know is that when I came to from my shock, they were no longer there. It was just me, marinating in the stink of man sweat and my own confusion. It was a sad moment, realizing I had become outdated before I even had a chance to be relevant. Here I was, watching my generation pass me by, because I know I will never take part in any of what they were doing. Working out for fitness and health is one thing, but the self-adulation makes me ill. And manscaping? Forget it.

Consider this, if you spend even 15 minutes a day getting rid of hair on your body, that is an hour and 45 minutes a week, or over seven hours a month. An hour and 45 minutes multiplied by 52 weeks is 91 hours a year. That’s almost six days of awake time pruning yourself.

You know what I would rather be doing? Absolutely anything else.

Tim Drugan-Eppich is a junior majoring in English.