The story you are about to read is true.
The underwear has been changed to protect the innocent.
I almost provoked a brawl at the YMCA.
In the steam room.
A room full of naked men.
Here's what happened.
The West End Y in Willoughby is an outstanding facility.
Great staff, great equipment, convenient hours.
After a workout, I hit the steam room.
Just like in the movies, a bunch of guys sitting around in a cloud of hot steam.
And as you'd expect, the required uniform is your birthday suit adorned by a white towel.
That's when my mouth got me into trouble.
You see, the YMCA has a rule: no shaving in the steam room.
It's based on fear of blood-borne disease.
One nick of your chin from your Gillette razor means blood could infect the whole room.
Who wants to sit on a bench splattered with your AB negative?
The Lake County Health Department has even issued warnings against such dangerous behavior.
One Saturday afternoon a few weeks ago, a couple of us were soaking up the hot steam.
In walks a fellow with an apple in his left hand and something else in his right.
The steam pumps into the room at an intense rate.
The newcomer begins to stroke the blade across his cheek.
He shakes the razor clean after each stroke, depositing scraped whiskers on the floor next to him.
A little gross.
I summoned my most non-confrontational tone.
I smile and speak.
"Excuse me, would you mind not shaving?"
He glares, "It's people like you who ruin this place for the rest of us!"
He begins to rise, menacingly.
He shouts, "Are you some kind of germophobe?"
He seems poised to throw a punch.
At this point, I'm somewhat alarmed.
Armed only with a towel that currently barely functions as a loincloth, I'm at a disadvantage.
I try to come up with a brilliant retort to defuse the tension.
"Yes, as a matter of fact, I'm terrified of germs. You'll see my picture in the dictionary next to the word 'Germophobe'."
The aggressor backs down.
Apparently, in the neanderthal mind, it's not worth taking a poke at those who suffer from obsessive phobias.
Psychology saves the day.
The Titan of the steam room has retreated.
However, he attempts one more dimwitted sarcastic thrust.
"Is it okay if I eat my apple, or does that bother you too?"
You see, it is far from sanitary to munch a Macintosh in the land of sweaty buttcracks.
But the only danger is to the fool choosing to dine at Le Room de Steame.
"Go ahead, be my guest."
I showered and went home.
I'm happy I avoided fisticuffs that day.
I haven't seen my nemesis since then.
I hope he's okay.
But then again, I haven't checked the obituaries.
I've heard that ingesting the staphylococcus virus can be fatal.