Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Men's Locker Room Clash

I’m standing naked next to a 50-something dude in the men’s locker room, where two rules always apply: 1) Talk only about sports, 2) Don’t eye each other’s genitals. 

The guy has got an exotic language tattooed on his right shoulder and I read it aloud: “‘Om mani padme hum,’” I say, “In Tibetan.”

“That’s what it says,” he agrees, “but it’s not Tibetan. It’s Sanskrit.”

“The words are Sanskrit,” I say, “but that script on your shoulder is Tibetan.” I flash my left shoulder tattoo at him, to show him a true Sanskrit Om. “The Uchen script in your tattoo was developed in the 7th century, based on an Indic alphabet. That’s why it looks a bit like Sanskrit, but you can see it’s not the same.” I point to my right shoulder, upon which is tattooed the Sanskrit syllable Hrim. “Compare the letter ‘H.’” I point to the Sanskrit “H” on my shoulder and then to the Tibetan “H” in the word Hum on his shoulder. “See?” My pointer finger does not penetrate his zone of personal space, but it hovers dangerously close. 

The guy glares at me. We were supposed to be chatting about football, and now I’ve unintentionally challenged his manhood. Besides, any man as hairy as I am should be incapable of articulating more than bearish grunts. Is it too late to ask, “How ‘bout them Seminoles?”

“My root guru is Avalokiteshvara,” he tells me, in an attempt at one-upmanship.
“The Buddha of Infinite Compassion,” I say, defeating his secret code almost before the words have left his lips. His eyes turn downward. My Kung-Fu is stronger than his. He retreats to the shower. 

I think to shout after him, “The English word ‘clash’ is derived from the same Indo-European root as the Sanskrit word ‘klesha.’” But I keep that information to myself.

It’s a good thing we weren’t talking about football; I don’t know a damned thing about football.

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