Inspired by the following Decamot items: Rome, pea, football, policeman, village, John, hospital, battleship, leopard, cushion
The Start of It
As John drove through the gates of Fox Hills Country Club and Spa for the first time, he felt his heart pounding. It was silly, he knew, but doing new things always made him feel nervous, particularly when he didn't really feel he belonged somewhere.
"When in the Rome, do as the Romans do!" had been his mother's advice. "Copy someone who looks like they know what they're doing and you'll be fine. You have just as much right to be joining that club as anyone."
With that advice in mind, he got out of the car, retrieved his sport kit from the boot, and strode purposefully to the front door. He stopped at the reception desk to announce his arrival.
"I have an introductory letter to the club and an invitation to use the facilities tody. And I have a meeting with Chris Simmons, your Head of Member Issues this afternoon."
"You must be Mr Johnson, we've been expecting you. You're welcome to use the gym, the swimming pool and all the spa facilities. And of course do try out the restaurant. Your letter will entitle you to a 15% discount. Today's special is Pea Soup, I can heartily recommend it."
John found the men's changing room and changed into his swimming trunks. He put his clothes in locker, secured the door and put his towel around his shoulders. So far so good. Now where should he go?
He looked around and found the showers and two doors. One door seemed to take him out of the changing room and he assumed it would lead to the swimming pool. The other door had a small dark glass window with water droplets rolling down on the inside: this must be the steam room. He pulled the door open and went in. No one else was inside. He sat down in the furthest corner from the door.
This is the life, he thought to himself, and finally began to relax.
The Bit in the Middle
As he was drifting off to sleep the door opened. He looked up to see he had been joined by an older man. He couldn't help noticing that the man was naked. A few minutes later, two more men entered the steam room. They too were naked.
So that is obviously the etiquette here, thought John. He remembered his mother's advice again: "When in Rome ...". But public nudity was not something that he was overly comfortable with. He might be able to psyche himself up to going naked on a later visit here, but not today. Besides, it would probably look quite odd if he suddenly whipped his trunks off now. He did, however, no longer feel comfortable, not so much because they were naked, but because he was not. He wondered how best to extricate himself.
He waited a few minutes before making a point of looking at his watch and saying to no one in particular, "Oh is that the time?" and scuttled out of the steam room. He crossed a short passageway and found himself amongst the shower cubicles.
May as well take one while I'm here, he thought to himself. After that, rather than returning to the locker area, he went through the door that led out of the gents changing room. It led to another passageway. As he walked, he passed two doorways, one marked Ladies' Locker Room and one with a small dark glass window similar to the one in the men's locker room. The corridor then went round a corner where John found the pool, and it was glorious: 25m long, marked out in four lanes, and with a large timer clock hanging high on the wall at the far end. The water was clear and John could see straight down to the beautiful blue and white mosaic tiling. On the sides of the pool there were loungers with waterproof cushions waiting to welcome the weary swimmer after a hectic session. Best of all, there was no one in the pool. John had it all to himself.
John hung up his towel on a hook near one end of the pool. He then stood beside the pool and let his toes curl over the edge. The water looked to be about a meter and a half deep. He took a deep breath and sprang forward, performing a perfect, full-stretch racing dive. He sprinted 4 lengths. This is the life he thought to himself as he turned for the fourth time, and decided to slow his pace so he could better enjoy the moment. He swam four leisurely lengths on his back, and then four doing breaststroke. He finished up by swimming more front crawl lengths, this time concentrating carefully on his technique. As he swam he let his mind wander. His fears had been misguided: he really could fit in here. He would come daily; he would work out in the gym, have a dip in the pool, and then enjoy the steam room in the locker room. And if they could steam au naturale, well damn it, so could he!
When he got out of the swimming pool he felt exhilarated. He grabbed his towel and strode purposefully along the side of the pool and down the corridor. When he got to the door with the small dark glass window, he hung his towel on the hook by the door, whipped off his trunks with gusto, hung them with his towel, and then opened the steam room door ready to bid a hearty "Good Morning" to anyone who happened to be inside. But apart from the steam, the room was empty. He settled down on one of the benches. He then heard a faint hiss as the steamer cut in to increase the mist level. It wasn't long before he could no longer see from one side of the room to the other. And not long after that before he could no longer see his hand in front of his face.
The heat began to make him feel sleepy. He closed his eyes and leant his head against the wall. He stirred briefly about 10 minutes later as the door opened for a second and then closed again. He looked over towards the door and saw a shadowy figure feeling around for a place to sit down.
"Glad to see they've fixed the heater at last," said a disembodied voice about six feet away.
"Err yes" stammered John, his sense of serenity having evaporated in an instant. It wasn't the silence being broken that was the problem. Nor was it the words (small talk was not his forte, but even he could manage a few neutral words with a stranger in the anonymity of a misty steam room). The problem was the voice itself. It was a female voice, with a sexy, saltry tone. And he was uncomfortably aware that his trunks were on the other side of the door hanging next to his towel.
His mind started racing. How had this happened? He retraced his steps: Changing in the men's locker room, then to the steam room, a quick shower, a walk along the corridor, passed the two doors, round the corner to the pool, several lengths, then back out and along the corridor. Back to the steam room door, off with the shorts and ... and ... and oh my God, I went into the first door, the steam room near the pool, not the steam room in the men's locker room!
"Last week we could barely get up a head of steam," said the sexy female voice.
"How frustrating," he murmured.
John discretely crossed his legs and leant forward. He glanced over to where the sexy female voice had come from. He couldn't see her in the mist. Which would mean, of course, that she couldn't see him either. A solution to his predicament started to form in his head: All he had to do was to wait for her to go. He'd then leave it a few minutes before leaning out of the steam room, grabbing his trunks, and returning them to their rightful place: around his midriff!
Any feeling of comfort that John might have had by devising a plan was dashed a few minutes later when the door opened again, but not to let out the owner of the sexy female voice, but to let in another bather. What made it worse was that the newcomer didn't come straight in, but was distracted by a call from outside: "Wait up Margo, can I have a quick word?"
As Margo stood chatting, holding the door ajar, the steam in the room began to dissipate, and much more quickly than it had built up. Finally Margo decided to remain outside with her friend and closed the door.
"Don't you just hate it when that happens? Just when things are heating up nicely, someone goes and lets the steam out."
John looked back over to the owner of the sexy female voice. He noted that she was now all too visible, not to mention attractive. John's discomfiture grew immeasurably. Much to his relief, she suddenly stood up, looked at her watch, and scuttled out of the steam room saying as she went: "Oh is that the time?".
John was once again on his own in the now steamless room. He left it a couple of minutes before braving the outside world again. He leant out and retrieved his trunks without incident. He hastily put them on (back to front, but didn't notice) and hurried to the men's locker room. He found his locker, changed back into his clothes more quickly than he ever had in his life, and hurried not just out of the changing room, but out of the club house and into the carpark.
Within five minutes, John was sitting behind the wheel of his car staring through the windscreen, feeling miserable.
The End of It
During his rapid exodus from the Fox Hills Country Club and Spa, all sorts of irrational thoughts had flown through his head: Had the woman noticed his nakedness? Had she rushed out because of it? Was he guilty of indecent exposure? Would she report him to the police? It was accidental on his part, but would that stand up in court? What would his employer say if the worse should happen? As a junior doctor, could he get struck off for this sort incident?
John got himself into such a state that he had half expected to find a policeman by his car waiting to arrest him. But of course there hadn't been one there. And now he was feeling pretty stupid. It was a silly mistake, it was all over, no one would ever find out about it. He should be inside right now with the Head of Member Issues joining up. Instead, he was cowering in his car in the carpark
With what he felt was extraordinary courage, John got out of the car and returned to the club. The receptionist recognised him from earlier that morning.
"Chris is expecting you," she said cheerily. "Last door on the left."
John thanked her and proceeded along to the end of corridor, And there it was, a big oak door and large brass name plate: Chris Simmons, Head of Member Issues.
John stood looking at the door for a few minutes before knocking. It was silly, he knew, but he felt he had been whisked back in time to his village school and was now standing outside the head's door awaiting punishment for some minor infraction of the rules: a forgotten football kit on a sports day perhaps, or being caught playing battleships when he should be in class. The process would always be the same:
First the head would make him wait. Then he'd call out "Enter!". John would open the door and walk in meekly.
The head would always be standing over by the window looking out, dressed in a smart business suit, back to the room. John would hover by the desk. After what would feel like an age, prompted by a discrete cough from John, the head would finally turn to face him.
The head would say: "Ah, Mr Johnson. Again. A leopard never changes his spots, does he? What is it this time?"
And after a gabbled explanation, punishment would be meted out and the Head would say: "I hope to see less of you next term."
John would hurry out of the head's office, his face crimson. His ears burning.
This is ridiculous, John thought. I'm an adult. I'm a junior doctor at the local hospital. I earn a decent living. I have just as much right to be here as anyone. I made a silly mistake earlier, but who cares? I bet that woman didn't even notice. Pull yourself together man.
John rapped firmly on the door. Nothing. He waited for a few moments before he heard a muffled voice from inside call out: "Enter!".
John opened the door and walked in meekly.
Chris Simmons was standing over by the window looking out, dressed in a smart business suit, back to the room. John hovered by the desk; he coughed discretely, the Head of Member Issues finally turned to face him. John half expected to see the face of his old headmaster. But it was worse than that. Much, much worse. Chris Simmons was a woman, the same woman he'd last seen hurrying out of the steam room.
"Ah, Mr Johnson. Sorry. Bit distracted."
John shook the proffered hand.
"Have we met before?" she asked, looking at him curiously.
"Not that I'm aware of," stammered John. He gave a gabbled explanation of how he'd been sent an invitation to look around the club and try it out, and that he'd liked what he'd seen and would like to join.
Chris quickly made John feel relaxed. She told about the club hours, the fees, the discounts in various sporting goods shops that members could enjoy, the deposit that he would be required to pay, and that he would have to give two months notice if at some point in the future he chose to leave the club. John provided his bank details, and read and signed the club's terms and conditions.
At the end of very pleasant quarter of an hour, they both stood and shook hands again.
"I hope to see you again soon," said Chris.
John smiled broadly, until she added: "But perhaps a little less of you next time."
John hurried out of the office of the Head of Member Issues, his face crimson. His ears burning.