I had a rare insight into the working of Karma recently. A direct experience in fact. One of those tales I would normally be inclined to preface with ‘It wasn’t my fault, but…’ However. Sometimes (more often if you’re me), you have to put your hand up to the possibility that just maybe, at some level, it was your fault.

I was on the way to the gym, fired up by that heady combination of testosterone and insecurity that is the unique premise of the middle-to-lower-ability male gym-goer. I was accompanied by my girlfriend Krista (also known as ‘Roo’).

As we rounded the corner from the car park we were faced with the impressive plate glass facade of the gym, a series of gigantic windows designed to radiate the vitality within and, I’m sure, intimidate the uninitiated. It’s definitely a ‘Wow, look at all that stuff… all those guys… Scary! Um, maybe we should go.’ type moment. I think I’d been to that gym half a dozen times before I dared go inside.

This time though, there was something else that sort of grabbed your attention. Well, it grabbed mine anyway. It was almost impossible to ignore because it filled the field of vision. Emerging enthusiastically from the pool, scant inches away from the biggest piece of plate glass in the district, was a behemoth.

The guy was enormous with boobs bigger than my head, that took slow-motion turns in leaping up and down as he shook himself. For several seconds I thought he was naked. Then he turned, and the side view revealed something mostly obscured from the front by a low hanging paunch; the man was wearing speedos. Tiny, tiny trunks which would not have looked out of place on an eight year old boy – except that most eight year old boys have better taste. And they were bright red. Before my mind could fully comprehend the horror of what I was about to witness, the big fella completed his turn, presenting both gigantic, furry buttocks to the world. In swim wear several sizes too small, quite predictably he was flossing. His arse looked like an Ewok that was being strangled with fishing line.

Now, like most gym goers I’m a fan of larger people working out. I think it’s great that they want to get fit, get healthy – it’s a tough thing to do and fair play to anyone who’s doing it. I can’t say I’m keen on them doing it mostly naked though. Especially if I’ve just eaten.

Passing the staff at the front desk I couldn’t help myself. As we paused to swipe ourselves in I addressed Krista at top volume; “What age is it you reach where you loose all self respect? Some random point in your life where a switch flicks in your brain, and suddenly you think ‘Yeah, I’m pretty fat. Actually I’m huge. Guess I’d better put my Speedos on.”

Behind the desk the staff were sniggering. I decided to take it up with them.

“I mean, I know some guys only ever wear speedos. Some older blokes probably don’t know any better. But if they must wear them, please God why do they have to wear the ones that used to fit them circa 1968? That guy’s got more cleavage than my missis – and in a totally different part of his anatomy!”

By now the staff were cracking up. I decided to run with the materiel.

“I tell you, that scrap of red fabric is looking pretty worn and it’s under some serious tension. If he stretches too far getting out of the pool they’ll shoot off so fast they’ll break your security camera!”

Better leave it there I thought. Quit while you’re ahead. So I swung my bag onto my shoulder, grinned around at the chuckling staff and headed into the changing rooms.

That’s when disaster struck. Fumbling into my cupboard at home, I’d picked my t-shirt out by touch. Now revealed in the electric light of the changing room was a slinky black top that belonged to my girlfriend.

Now Krista (also known as ‘Roo’) is tiny. She’s tall, but willowy, like… I dunno, what else is tall and willowy? A hedge? I think we might be heading in the wrong direction here. Anyway, the point is her clothes are tiny. I’ve got dolls that don’t fit into them. (As to why I have dolls, well we won’t get into that now.) Krista poked her head into the cubicle after hearing my grunt of dismay. “Hey,” she said, “that’s mine!”

“Um, yeah I know.”

Then it dawned on me. After completely going off on one on the way in – ranting extensively and emphatically about hideously inappropriate workout wear – I was now faced with wearing a size 8 woman’s lycra slip into the gym.

“I don’t think they’ll let you workout topless,” Roo said.

Dismally I held up the jumper I’d arrived in. It was thick, insulating. I used to wear it skiing. The thing was so damn warm, I hadn’t bothered to wear anything under it for the trip to the gym. Consequently I had nothing else.

“We could go home…” I could tell by the vagueness in her voice that she wasn’t keen on that idea.

“No it’s fine,” I told her. “I guess I’ll just wear my jumper.”

So I did. And oh man did I sweat! I mean, I’m one of those guys that just sweat. When I’m watching a PG rated film and some hot chick in a bikini saunters on to the screen, I instantly break out in delicate beads on my forehead. When I noticed an unopened email from a publisher in my inbox, my hands get cold and clammy. If it’s a good email they start to drip. So when I go to the gym and run hard on a treadmill for half an hour, I tend to emerge looking like I’ve been hosed backwards through a car wash and into a swimming pool.

An hour later we called it quits. I left a number of small puddles in my wake. I got into the car and immediately peeled off my soaking jumper. “I don’t care,” I wheezed at Roo. “I’m going home like this!” Luckily she didn’t seem to mind me sweating copiously into the upholstery.

We were short of petrol (who isn’t these days?) so we pulled up in the queue to buy some ridiculously overpriced fuel. As Roo got out to fill the tank I seemed to be getting a few strange looks from the surrounding vehicles. Why was everyone staring? Then I heard a gasp from Roo. She’d just turned around from the pump and was now staring in through my window. “God Tony, from here it looks like you’re naked!”

Of course it did! I was naked from the waist up, which was all anyone else could see. And since it was twilight on a freezing winters day, they could hardly imagine I was coming back from the beach…

“Shit! Better get out of here!” She paid for the petrol in record time. And laughed at my predicament, as she strode back across the forecourt.

Well what would you think, if you got out of your car at the petrol station and saw this?

Tony James Slater, possibly naked.

There were shorts beneath the bag - honest.

Honestly, that’s the very last time I take this piss out of an enormously fat old man in skin tight swimming briefs. I don’t care if it looked like he was flossing. It’s just not worth it.