Monday, January 30, 2023 Jan 30, 2023
32° F Dallas, TX

The Curious Case of the Old Man and the Gym Shorts

A YMCA locker room mystery.
By Tim Rogers |

Your assistance is needed in solving a mystery. I will understand if you choose not to participate, because this mystery involves nudity and events that transpired in a men’s locker room, and I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But for those who do dig that flavor:

After a recent lunchtime pickup basketball game at the downtown T. Boone Pickens YMCA, in which your correspondent made it rain 3-pointers so hard that the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore showed up to do a live report, I hit the showers. No need to record the details of that process. Having finished with my ablutions, though, I found an older gentleman, perhaps 70 years of age, not exactly petite, perched on the bench immediately in front of my locker, putting on his socks and sneakers. Curious detail No. 1 about this man: he was sitting on the bench bare-assed, with his underwear and shorts pulled up halfway, riding at about mid-thigh.

“Am I in your way?” he asked.

“No, no. You’re good,” I said, even though he was flagrantly in my way and not at all good.

I pressed myself against my locker as I dialed the combination, trying to avoid the man’s milky-white hindquarters. I made a mental note about that wooden bench. I’d sat on it hundreds of times over the years. Never again. Arson was the only answer. I would pretend to fall asleep near the bench while smoking a cigarette. 

Who puts on his sneakers like that, with his shorts pulled up only halfway? And what is the deal, in general, with elderly men in locker rooms? Why do they not only abandon modesty but aggressively advertise their nakedness? No, they will not wear a towel en route to the showers. I don’t wish to offend you with a gratuitous, colorful description of how old guys behave in locker rooms, but they all seem to be trying to outdo one another in displaying their pendulous scrota, hobbling around towelless, throwing a leg up on a sink so that the ol’ clockweights can dangle unfettered during the blow-drying and talcum-powdering procedure. 

These are the thoughts that were running through my head when I noticed curious detail No. 2 about the bare-assed man on the bench: the shorts stretched around his thighs belonged to me. 

Please believe me when I tell you that I am not making this up. I had returned victorious from the hardwood to the locker room and had left my sweaty clothes in a pile at the foot of my locker before showering. Now, as I sat on a separate bench behind the man, I saw that he was half-wearing my shorts. No question. Blue with green piping. Bought at Target maybe five years ago. I knew then how eyewitnesses to the Hindenburg explosion must have felt. 

This can’t be happening. It is impossible.

The old man finished tying his laces, stood, and, with some difficulty, because they were far too small for him, pulled up my shorts. I looked on in shock as he left the locker room and headed off to his workout. I checked my pile of clothes to be sure. No shorts.

I can imagine but two scenarios. First one: theft. He saw my unsupervised shorts, and he made his move. Crime of opportunity. But that doesn’t make any sense. Because why steal shorts that don’t fit? Let’s assume he didn’t check the tag first and just pulled them on. He must have realized at his thighs that he’d chosen poorly. Why sit down at that point and strap on the sneakers? No, no. 

Second scenario: accident. He, too, buys his athletic gear at Target and owns the same shorts (though in a larger size). Okay, sure. But when I shed my sweaty clothes, I pulled off my underwear and shorts in one fluid, catlike move. He would have had to disentangle my wet underdrawers from my shorts, which is hard, if not impossible, to do accidentally. And, obviously, halfway up his thighs, as my shorts were screaming, “We don’t fit you, old man!” he should have realized something was awry. 

Let’s see. Have I overlooked anything? No, that is it. As I say, I am asking you, the public, to help solve this mystery. As with most world-class conundrums—the Beal Conjecture comes to mind—there is an award. Whosoever unravels this one will receive one firm American handshake, with simultaneous eye contact. There is one man out there who has an advantage over all others in pursuit of an answer. If he should step forward, all bets—and clothes—are off.