Date:         Sun, 31 Dec 1995 22:55:53 EST
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMITCMHC 1
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN THE CHICAGO MARRIOTT HEALTH CLUB 1

1)  I arrived at the Marriott Hotel at 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon,
totally exhausted because a) I had stayed up until 4 a.m. putting
what I thought were the final touches on my paper, and b) I had
gotten up at 6:30 a.m. to get my clothes ready and pack them and c) I
had not been able to sleep on the airplane because of the obnoxious
man next to me who kept bumping my elbow off *my* armrest and d) I
dont know what all.  Check-in was easy and quick and I tried to sleep
in the room but the dreams kept keeping me awake.

2) So, I decided to go to the health club, with swimming pool,
whirlpool, men's and women's saunas and steam rooms, exercise room,
the works.  Ah yes!  A health club left over from the days when
things were civilized.  Separate saunas and steam rooms: no clothes
required.  And so it was, just as the blurb in the hotel information
said.  Nice little steam room and spacious sauna in the locker room,
and nobody by me at 2 p.m. in the afternoon.  Nice relaxing swim,
then a cold shower, then some dry heat, then some steam hot enough to
burn your nose.

3)  Then the academics started joining me.  Most did not talk, only
regarded each other suspiciously, like, what are you doing here?
This is my space for now.  Then a few who knew each other and the fun
began.  I quietly endured the latest news about the postmodern
dilemma, a little Bahktin, not a little Foucault and Todorov, a
mildly obscene anecdote about Kristeva and Cocteau, a thoroughly
captivating discussion of postcolonialism and the ascendancy of queer
theory in the study of contestatory literature.

4)  They came and went, weaving their way bearing their nakedness
like a testimony of the truth that they told, from sauna to shower,
from cold shower to steam, telling their tales of the rise and fall
of reputations in the academy, filling the air with interpretive
frames, neo-lesbian configurations, the semiotics of silence,
drifting finally to their stalls, adorning themselves with tweeds and
going out again into the world.  Leaving me to my misgivings about my
presentation, scheduled for exactly 48 hours from now.

5) And then, the ambassadors from the real world arrived.....
--ggs

Date:         Mon, 1 Jan 1996 16:19:06 EST
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMITCMHC 2
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN THE CHICAGO MARRIOTT HEALTH CLUB 2

6) And then, the ambassadors from the real world arrive, noisily,
dropping their heavy work-out bags on the floor, banging the doors of
the lockers, huffing and heaving and grunting.  Three of them.  One
guy about 30, looking like a wrestler, long hair, huge shoulders and
a healthy looking beer belly.  Another one about 45, not in good
shape, baggy face full of beer and pretzels.  Another one about 50,
longish hair, gruff and scrubby.  Friends, definitely.  They start
changing to their swimming trunks, banging doors and belching and
scratching.  I, meanwhile, am trapped in the steam room, stark naked
without so much as a towel to hide behind.  I am in, what is it
called?, a fix.  I can see their shapes through the foggy glass door.
They don't know I'm here.

7)  They begin to fill the air with their tales:
    "Get your fucking fat ass out of my face you faggot fart..."
    "Where the fuck is my towel, fuck it all to hell, fuck this...
damned fucking key.... fuckin' fuck fuck...."
    "Hey fuckface move it over get out of my fuckin' face..."
    "What's that you got in your mothufuckin' hand, hey baby...."
    "Kiss it baby and watch it fuckin' grow..."

8)  I sit very quietly, wondering how I'm going to get out of here.
The heat is beginning to get to me...  I can't breathe...  I think
I'm purt near close to dying....  No way out but this, so I just open
the door and stroll out flashing my stuff, smiling pleasantly and
saying.... "uh.... "

9)  They look at me and nod... Then, I am saved because the door
opens and in comes a father with an academic attitude, with
his two little boys, about nine and six....   breaking the spell of
the moment long enough for me to grab a towel and retreat to the
shower, then to the sauna.

10)  I hear the father talking to the boys... "You want to go in the
sauna or the steam room....?"  "I don' know...."  "One is wet and the
other is dry..."  "I don' know..."  "Let's try the steam".... and
then all is quiet, except for an occasional wrestler strolling by the
sauna without coming in....

11)  Then the father comes in with his two boys, all in swimming
trunks....  No, they are not boys.  They are *girls*....  I am
sitting on my towel.  There are two little girls, one nine and one
six....  looking at me sitting on my towel, sweating....  hiding
nothing....  Everything is very quiet.  I look at the little girls
and smile....  innocently, like, aren't we having fun...

12)  This is very strange...  I think about my paper, which I have to
give in exactly 47 hours and 30 minutes....  thinking about
Story-Telling Strategies in _Nazarin_ and _Halma_.....  hoping I
don't get <diegetic> and <diuretic> confused.....  The girls are
regarding me with suspicion and the father is acting very
unconcerned, looking at me occasionally in a pleasant, friendly way,
like Don't Worry We Do This At Home No Problem Just Act Natural We
Dont Want Our Little Girls To Think There Is Anything Odd About Being
Naked....  I am quietly mouthing the words to my paper....

13)  The Real World Guys drift by the fucking door on the way to the
facefucking shower, still wearing trunks,  quietly....  Everything is
very quiet....
--ggs

Date:         Mon, 1 Jan 1996 22:33:27 EST
From: gilbertsmith <gsmith@social.chass.ncsu.edu>
Subject:      WHTMITCMHC 3
To: Multiple recipients of list WORDS-L <words-l@uga.cc.uga.edu>

WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN THE CHICAGO MARRIOTT HEALTH CLUB 3

14)  Everything is very quiet.  The academic father keeps fiddling
with his 6 year old's swimming suit, saying, you dont have to wear
this if you dont want to, and I am thinking What Are You Doing
Wearing Swim Trunks If You Want To Let Them Know Its OK To Be Naked?
Then, the daddy takes his two little girls out because they dont like
the heat.  I can see them through the window in the door, they are
getting ready to leave.

15)  I dont have a key to the locker because there are so many people
swimming, all the keys are gone.  So I go out, hanging the towel just
right so as not to offend these little girls and ask the father, who
is now totally naked in front of his babies, their eyes darting back
and forth from daddy to this strange man who must might be Santa
Claus resting up after his long journey around the world, would he
let me have his locker and his key.  He smiles and says he doesnt
have one either.  A wrestler goon strolls by after his shower with a
towel wrapped firmly around his loins.  Nods as he goes by.

16)  I'm thinking, this is ridiculous, this daddy is making me very
uncomfortable, but I'll just pretend not to be.  So I drape my towel
over my neck, bid the family goodbye and stroll back to the steam-
room, past two of the wrestlers banging and shuffling and dropping
shoes and pushing benches around with their feet, saying nothing...
*nothing* to each other.  One of them looks at me and rolls his eyes,
like, *man*, your dick is showing.  I just look at him like Hummphhh!
and go into the steam room, showing him my bare bohunkus, maybe
giving him a little farewell twitch as I shut the door.  He shoves
another bench and grunts.

17)  The other goon is in the steam room, in his trunks, and he does
not even acknowledge that I am there.  Looks everywhere but at me.  I
sit demurely with my towel over my lap, and ocassionally let out a
long sigh, like This Heat Is Just Hitting The Spot.  Trying to act
like a normal person.  Then the noises indicate that daddy has left
with his two little girls, who have seen enough for one afternoon.

18)  So the wrestler goes out to join his friends and they fill up
the fetid air of the lockerroom, deconstructing the event that
they have just witnessed:
    "Fuck Man Jesus H Christ Do you fuckin' believe that?"
    "Shit I almost said something to that fucker, like, man, what the
fuck do you fucking think you are fucking doing?"
     I creep out of the steam-room hoping to get by before they see
me.  They all stop and turn around and look at me.  I nod and say
"Really incredible, isn't it?"  They just look at me, so I say: "I
just *never* in all my life!"  They don't respond, but watch me until
I disappear into the shower.  I hear them continue.
    "What the fuck man what the fuck is this?!  What is it, you
fucking want grandkids before they learn to fuckin' fart?  Jesus,
Man, what the fuck are you fuckin' thinkin'?  Jesus!"

19)  One wrestler leaves, another goes into the next shower, and the
other bangs and kicks benches and slams locker doors and I sneak back
into the steam room.   The second one finally leaves, then after what
seems like forfuckingever, the last one gathers up his stuff, slams
the locker door, and walks away.  I race out of the steam, suffering
something like the symptoms of a heat stroke, and there he is,
walking toward the exit door.  I nod and say "Take care..."  He just
glares at me, mutters something, and leaves.

20)  Thirty minutes go by, I'm dressed and ready to go when more
acadmic types come in and continue their discussion of the influence
of late post-Marxist theoretical criticism on testimonial
autobiography in the post-colonial Hispanic world as I slip out the
door, tossing my wet towels in the laundry basket by the exit.  I
take the elevator toward the 25th floor, and, in this hotel where
approximately 5000 people are staying, the elevator stops on the 18th
floor, the door opens and the three wrestlers get on.  They have, it
seems, spent their time since I saw them last using the blowdryer.
We have, after what we have shared, nothing to say to each other.
I spend the time from the 18th floor to the 25th repeating softly
under my breath: "It's *diegetic*, not *diuretic*........
Forty-six hours, twenty-five minutes to go.
--ggs