"Woops! Dropped Me Soap"

Everybody who has gone to a public gym or health club has to have a shower story. This is especially true for men, and even more so for men who attended all-male schools in their past. These single-sex schools seem to accomplish very little other than promoting rampant homophobia. But background aside, American males grow to maturity with these little bathroom-isms beat into their skulls from early grade school on.

The Rules of Shower Conduct are not so much spelled out as just understood. The most important rule states that should you be found in the locker room or shower sporting an erection, you could be killed immediately. A somewhat related rule acts as a sort-of safety valve in case somebody violates the first rule. Never bend over in the shower and point you butt toward someone else. Because everybody knows there are sick people out there who have spent time in the Turkish prison system, have now joined the health club, and they just happen to be showering next to you and feeling nostalgic. This is the origin of the phrase "Donít drop your soap." Letís just say, you donít want to be presenting Sven the Turkish Prison Lifer (on parole) with any opportunities to relive his raucous prison days.

My own personal shower story occurred at the health club. The health club shower booths lined one wall of a long narrow room and were separated by a six-foot tall wall segment that hovered a foot off the ground (to allow water to flow along the floor to the common drain in the center of the room). So, there I was in the shower booth, minding my own business when a bar of soap comes idly spinning along and comes to a rest against my foot. I looked down, stunned as my mind starts playing a little litany: ...donít drop the soap...donít bend over...donít drop the soap...donít bend over... But Iím a grown man and I know rampant unbridled paranoia when I experience it. So the logical side of my brain takes over, and is talking me down from worrying about such nonsense, when a grinning blond head pokes around the shower wall and says, in a perfect Austrian/Swedish/Schwarzeneggerian accent, "Excuse me. Could you get my soap?" ...donít bend over!...itís Sven!...itís Sven!...donít...donít...donít... I was a little rattled, but I recovered quickly. "Yeah," I stammered, "Sure." And I lifted my foot and gave the soap a soft little kick back in the direction it had come from.

Now, I told you my story because I made a promise to my friend a long time ago that I would never relate the following tale without first embarrassing myself. But first, a little more description of those health club showers is needed. Directly across the narrow room from your shower was a little plastic shelf with a hook, where you could set down bottles of shampoo and hang your towel. The act of showering involves several trips out of the stream of water, across the room to the shelf (say, to get shampoo), then back to the stream to use it, then back out to get something else. The point being, this little relay race is common. There are only a dozen or so shower booths, so on crowded nights, guys will line up along the back wall next to the shelves waiting their turn.

My friend was in the health club showers on a particularly crowded Tuesday evening. There were at least two people in line for every shower, so he was feeling a little rushed. He finished soaping up, and quickly rinsed. He walked out into the common area to swap his bar of soap for shampoo. Next he relayed back out and picked up his tube of liquid facial soap. Now, since it is difficult to scrub your face with both hands while holding onto a tube, he decided to squeeze some of the soap out into his hand before returning to the shower. Unfortunately for my friend, he was nearly out of soap, and each squeeze of the tube brought nothing more than an empty blast of air. So he starts shaking the tube, trying to get some of the product to migrate toward the opening. Then he starts doing a combined shaking, squeezing motion. Shake, squeeze. Shake squeeze. Shake squeeze - *BLORT*! A huge gob of white liquid soap squirts out of the dispenser, fills his hand, then overflows his hand and lands on the head of his...well, you know... So there he is, standing in the middle of a crowded shower room with a fistful of white goo and apparently in flagrant violation of the rules of shower conduct.

He was summarily executed by Sven.

"Woops! Dropped Me Soap", Copyright © 1997 by Michael J. Marchi

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