Ode to that Sweaty Guy at the Gym

Ode to that Sweaty Guy at the Gym
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To that guy with the Tarzan flow drenching the treadmill with his own personal monsoon: Pay no attention to the glares as those machines around you empty. You didn’t come to the gym to make friends. Well, maybe you did, but the point is that right now you stand for something greater than yourself.

You, sir, are an inspiration to the Sweaters.

There may be days when you yearn to be one of the Dries. You know the ones: those few people who never perspire, even when they’re eating spicy food on a date or drinking hot coffee with a jacket on. The Dries tend to think everyone is a Dry or maybe just that everyone should be. Perhaps you’ve felt the cold recoil of a Dry palm from your clammy handshake. On the lonelier days it’s enough to make you wonder, “Is it always hot in here … or is it just me?”

Well, you can stop WebMD-ing it, Sweaty Guy. I’m here to tell you you’re not the only one who can’t keep his ear buds from slipping out of his ears. You’re not the only person who used to wear black as more than a fashion statement. That’s right, SG, I too once feared the pit stain!

But those days are over for us. You and me, together we’re gonna put an end to the sweat-shaming. Some might call the way we refuse a towel “stubborn” — I call it sweat-positive.

It’s a change in attitude, isn’t it? To remember the positives when you’re wearing socks to bed as foot towels? To strut out the latest sweat-wicking technology like it’s a three-piece suit on prom night? Because there are positives, Sweaty Guy. We do get to wear those miniheadbands on our forearms for an actual reason. We do get to look like we’re working hard — literally all the time. So we’re not the most desirable guys to guard in that weekly shirts-and-skins pickup game! We spin that to our advantage, don’t we? They call the way you play “gross”; I call it “slippery.” Like a jewel thief or a hairy fish with a decent hook shot.

So we can’t keep our hands from sliding around on that yoga mat! It’s as I always say — anyone who claims they’re not all hot yoga classes isn’t keeping their core engaged. That pool below my sopping face isn’t just a mirror, my friend — it’s a nametag that shouts “Property of me, now.” And nobody’s gonna touch any of my post-yoga gear, at least not on purpose.

So don’t despair that you’ve got a “low hug count” in the gym, Sweaty Guy. Sure, the smell of your dinner last night is coming through, and not everyone likes asparagus. But we see how hard you’re working on that treadmill. And whether we’re Sweaters ourselves or just a little too close to your machine, we feel it, too. Just keep on running like we know you will — and when you’re done, walk out with your head high. If it looks like I’m getting emotional as I slow clap, it’s because I am — that, and there’s sweat in my contacts.

Originally published August 2016

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