When Elijah Pritchett Goes to the Gym

Julie Marie Wade

for my swolemates

I sometimes go with him, & so does our friend James.
I joke it is like a “mind gym,” but not in the cultish, self-help sense of the
Our gym is called Humana, which we like because we’re secular
The workout is part pumping iron & part peripatetic method.
I learn that I can always lift more than I think I can.
I wish it worked the other way—that I could lift things just by thinking
about them.
In other words, I wish I were a secular levitationist.
I learn that the ancient Greeks had pornographic images etched onto the
bottoms of their soup bowls.
I learn that James can always lift more than I think he can.
I learn that Elijah used to play in a band, which is not surprising.
What is surprising is that he’s old enough to have a daughter graduate
from high school & move out on her own.
She works at Nancy’s Bagels where I go on Sundays—being a secular
humanist—& looks just like him.
I learn the deliberate blond hairs Elijah leaves under his lip are called a soul
I ask why, & he doesn’t know, which is really surprising, because I
count on Elijah to know everything.
James has an iPhone, so we can look it up.
I learn that dumbbells & barbells are not synonyms.
We learn that the soul patch came into prominence during the 1950s &
60s among “musician types.”
We think Elijah qualifies as a “musician type,” so he can keep his soul
I want James to grow a handlebar mustache, which I think would look
fetching with his red hair.
We make a pact to grow our hair Crystal Gayle length, then break it
almost immediately.
I learn if there is a way to make an exercise harder, Elijah will do it.
I learn that locus arcis means something important to Elijah in Latin.
I learn that Elijah & James disagree about the relative musical genius of
Peter Cetera.
I like that his last name reminds me of Etcetera, one of my all-time
favorite words.
I have still never heard his music.
I learn that Elijah was named for the prophet Elijah because his father was
high at the time & listening to The Doors & thinking how nobody
gets out of this life without dying—nobody except Elijah.
James & I don’t have great, psychedelic stories about our names.
James & I like to get high, but Elijah doesn’t.
We like to drink soda, & Elijah likes to drink bourbon, & once we all
drank this strange green tea that looked like mushed-up lima beans in
a vegetarian restaurant, even though none of us is vegetarian.
That was a fun night.
I learn that I like being one of the boys sometimes, better than being one
of the girls.
I learn that I miss them when I skip the gym for TV or go out to girly
yoga instead.


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