Friday, March 20, 2015

HOSTILITY HOLLER


“HEY!!!! It’s 10 OO’CLOCK! Time to get out!”

Vaguely, I hear the command echo through the women's locker room, shouted at us from somewhere outside, but don’t really register it beyond the fact that ,someone, a guy?, is shouting at us to get out. Is the indecipherable intercom system down?

“That is Rather Hostile,” DL says, in that steely feminist way of hers which I love.

It is? Hostile? Puzzled and out of it, I glance over at her. She’s gathering up all her bag, heaving it up onto her shoulder. I’m trying to get it together. But there’s always so much stuff! I’m trying to get everything crammed in my gym bag: swimsuit, shoes, yoga pants and Deanza Kitty Shirt, swim mask, shampoo elephant bag, watch, bracelet, scarf…..

See what I mean? No wonder I didn’t register the hostility quotient initially. But then…..DL was right!
It was weird. Where was the Usual Efficient Girl gathering up all the towels and hollering at us to pack it up pronto?

“They’re gonna be in Trouble,” DL nods over at a couple of Asian Women, still naked, sitting on stools, chattering away.

Did they even hear the Hostile Get Out? And if they did, did they understand?

DL was right, they were in Trouble. Should we try to warn them? What might happen? Would the Hostile Hollering Guy come barging into the Women’s locker room and literally kick out the half dressed women?
Nah….they can’t do that, can they?

But we don’t say anything to the Asian Women. I don’t know why. DL is seething….well, maybe not seething, but she’s intense. And when I think about it through my chlorine induced haze, she’s right. Those guys shouldn’t be hollering at us to get out. Loitering around outside the women's locker room. It’s not OK.

We emerge from the locker room into the murky downstairs lobby. There’s 3 guys hanging out there. Young. Tall. Antsy. Threatening?

“You the last ones out?” the tallest one with a gross bandage over his nose asks. He shuffles back and forth on his big boat feet, attitude oozing out of his soles.

“No,” I answer. “There’s still a couple of women left in there.”
“A couple? Okay. Thanks. We just wanna go home, you know?”
“Yeah, I understand. It’s been a long day….” Why didn’t I say anything about their inappropriate Hostile Get Out Announcement? I’m confused. Tired. Confused. And well……I needed to eat.

DL and I stumble up the stairs, leaving the 3 loitering guys still hanging around downstairs waiting for the two Asian Women. They might have a long wait, I think to myself.

Dizzy and winded at the top of the stairs, I glance around. It’s strange. No women working at all. A couple guys work the front desk, closing up computers, shutting down systems. I feel mixed up. Like I’m looking for the perky young women that work at Hilltop, but of course they’re not here in Oakland.

But aren’t there usually a couple of women up here, behind the front desk, at this Oakland Y?
“Where are all the women workers?” I ask DL.
She shakes her head.
“It’s so strange,” I murmur as we head out the front doors into the wrong balmy night.
Hostility is intense. It’s one of those energy situations that can color the atmosphere so quickly that one is completely caught off guard. And you may have one reaction of being angry about it. Or you may have another reaction of being confused by it. Or like me, you may not even register it for whatever reason. It’s not on your sensitivity radar.

Why is that? Usually, I’d be all over guys yelling into the women’s locker room, but this night? I barely noticed. Am I that out of it at the Oakland Y after my swim by 10 pm?

Yup. I think so.

And that’s why it’s a really good thing for me that I have DL around to register the reality.
And walk me to my car.
After all, she’s got a Black Belt. (Maybe not in actuality, but in action-ality)
And she’s Italian.....And..... she's a Woman.
So beware Hollering Hostile Dudes! Next time you need to clear the women's locker room, figure some other way to clear the decks. Use the intercom system. Ask another woman to come in and let us know it's time to go. Or hell, why
not just chill out for once and let us leave at 10:10? Would that be such a crime?