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Sweat is sexy. A month ago I returned to the gym after a long layoff. Among pain and pleasure points of that world I rediscovered the sauna. Now it is my last stop before hitting the showers. The sauna holds several simple, surprising but edifying possibilities for me at this point.

One is surprising conversation. In fact most often the men beyond the wooden door in the dim light are silent or simply grunt a hello. On occasion however I can walk-in on an ongoing discussion. For some reason women are oftentimes topics under review for these guys. As a result I have benefited second hand from some profound pronouncements; an education really. Another time I found myself alone with a man who was very interested in discussing the topic of men – married men I guess – who look at other women. The conversation began a bit spookily with my sole sauna-mate sitting opposite me with his bushy manhood staring out at me. Ultimately I concluded that he was most likely innocently thinking through a dilemma of his own and simple interrogating me “man-in-the-street” style. This is how things roll sometimes in the sweat-box.

Another possibility as I sit perched on the cedar steps is the zen of the pose. Now I am as dumb as a stump about the thing people call zen but I sometimes assume a pose I think of as disciplined with my chin and shoulders back, the back straight and my head up. This is when I begin to feel the warm air curling around the edges of my nostrils then round, up and down my pipes into my lungs. I feel wholesome and righteous and aware. Eventually I realize I have secretly slumped back into a craven lump of bad posture. Ah, life is a struggle.

It’s at these moments, alone even if there are other persons in the room, when I begin to recognize the rivulets of sweat dodging their way through my wiry eyebrows and over my lips. Leaning over I see the drip, drip, drip of my body’s salty juice falling to the wood between my feet. In my foggy mind I wax poetic. Often I sense the sweat beads rolling off my remarkable tight abs. They silently trickle into my pubic hair. I’m alive.