The Watch

Why do some guys seem to enjoy strutting around naked in the locker room so much? I’ve never understood this. And it’s usually the old, wrinkly guys who are the main culprits. They just stand around chatting, letting it all hang out, taking up valuable floor space, and altogether just delaying the much-needed re-clothing process. Recently, I even saw one guy washing his socks in the locker room sink while naked. Why? I mean seriously, why? But you know, it’s not just the old and old/crazy guys that do this sort of thing, sometimes it’s the younger guys, too, and though their offences at least seem to occur with less frequency, their strutting is usually much more exhibitionist in style.

Now, I may be wrong, but no matter how much the “high school nerds built a periscope through the air vents to spy on the girls having a soapy shower fight” movies from the 80s might want us to believe otherwise, I harbor certain doubts that women behave like this in their locker rooms. For example, even if it were possible, I would guess it damn near unthinkable that any woman outside of a mental institution would strip down to nothing in front of her female compatriots, proceed to wrap her womanly parts around her wrist, and then declare the visual spectacle that resulted to henceforth be known as “The Watch.” That’s more of a guy thing to do. I know this because I was sitting next to a naked guy in a locker room when he spontaneously decided to perform The Watch.*

Personally, I didn’t care for The Watch being worn in such close proximity to me, but it’s the sort of thing that gets seared into your memory whether you like it or not, and that’s what got me to thinking, would The Watch have been popular among the Vikings?

For starters, we know that Vikings liked dongs, because of all the Frey statues that they left us, like the one shown below:**

Frey doing what he does best.

And here’s a close-up just so that there’s no ambiguity about what’s going on in that first picture.

It’s probably safe to say that Vikings didn’t mind the dong making the occasional public appearance so long as its purpose conformed to the accepted social standards of the day, but that just begs the question: would distorting the dong in a manner very unbecoming of Frey’s image have been considered sacrilegious? Clearly, The Watch is more of an insult to the ancient worship of fertility than a good representation of it.

But who knows what those crazy berserking bastards did once you got a group of them together out on the North Sea, away from their families and lady friends for awhile? There’s no way they could have been ashamed of each other’s bodies or primary bodily functions during a long sea voyage—you can’t just hold it in for days on end like that. But The Watch might have been an altogether different sort of beast. The Watch isn’t one of the human body’s essential functions. I can just see it now:


Øystein [sitting at his spot on the rowing bench that he shares with Olaf]: Goddamn, I’m glad the wind finally picked up, I was getting pretty sick and tired of all that rowing.

Olaf [standing beside the edge of the boat, loosening his trousers in the traditional seagoing-bladder-relieving fashion]: Yeah, me too.

[Momentary pause.]


Olaf: It’s called The Watch.


Or maybe Øystein and the other guys would have thought that Olaf’s Watch was the greatest form of entertainment to come along since the advent of skaldic verse. Midgård may never know.

But what about the modern Vikings? Let’s consider Björn Svensson and Trond Troll-Breath Trondsen.

I think that Björn would probably rather kill himself than perform The Watch. This is because he’s sort of an alcoholic loner and while he does maintain some artistic ability in his eloquence with words and just happens to live in a country known for a relatively relaxed attitude towards public nudity, he never struck me as the sort of guy who’d get up in front of a crowd of other guys in various stages of undress (or anyone else for that matter) and show off his timepiece.

Trond, on the other hand, would be much more likely to perform The Watch, but only in the presence of some very fine shield maidens. I’m sure that the ladies would be very pleased with his decision to remove his clothes (because, as I’ve said before, that’s the sort of effect I believe that he has on women), but I’m not entirely sure that their amusement would persist once he started rendering The Watch across his wrist and asking if any of them cared to check the time.


*This same individual once hopped on my back while we were playing ice hockey and clung to me, grinding his pelvis against my spine, till I did the stop, drop, and roll thing that we all learned in grade school is the proper way to put yourself out if you ever catch on fire. What can I say? It happened in college.

**This guy’s currently being kept at Stockholm’s Historiska Museet. I reproduced the photo from Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga without permission and it’ll stay here till someone with authority threatens to sue me for this most grave injustice.


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