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
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
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
I like that his last name reminds me of Etcetera, one of my all-time
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
Julie Marie Wade teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University in Miami. She has published ten collections of poetry and prose, most recently SAME-SEXY MARRIAGE: A NOVELLA IN POEMS and THE UNRHYMABLES: COLLABORATIONS IN PROSE, co-authored with Denise Duhamel. Wade reviews regularly for Lambda Literary Review and The Rumpus and makes her home on Hollywood Beach with her spouse Angie Griffin and their two cats.
Julie Marie Wade