A Note To The Dancing Man At My Gym

Dear Dancing Man,

Why do you dance?

I see you almost every day, with your large over-the-ear headphones and your sleeveless muscle tee. You work out alone, while I work out with a partner. During our exercise, my friend and I chat about television, art, and our own existential angst. You, on the other hand, dance.

I’m not sure which of us enjoys ourselves more. A part of me wishes I could be that free, to shake my hips the way you do and sashay around the gym like it’s my own personal club.

Why do you dance?

Do you feel compelled to?

What are you listening to? I like to imagine that you listen to nothing, that the noise-canceling headphones on your head allow you to block out the rest of the world so that you can truly connect with the Holy Spirit. The dance comes from within, so that it is less a reaction to something external than it is the inevitable expression of your soul.

I look at my own soul, and I wonder when I stopped dancing.

Why do you dance?

It was fun at first, an interesting quirk you had. We would always call you “The Dancing Man”. We thought you were fun and carefree. But now your dancing seems different. Your body language has turned condescending; the sway of your hips has become a mocking criticism of my own failings.

Do you think you’re better than me? How dare you dance? This is a public gym after all. Show some class and behave yourself.

And just what are you listening to?

Why do you dance?

I’ve never heard you speak, although something about the way you look leads me to believe you may be foreign, possibly Russian. Your shaved head and beard are surprisingly masculine compared to your delicate moves and your campy tank tops. You are a walking contradiction, an enigma wrapped in a riddle wrapped in a gay Jaime Dornan.

Sometimes I wonder that if you did speak, I would hear nothing but the sound of my own deepest fears.

Please don’t speak. Just dance.

Why do you dance?

Do you ever think of me? How must I appear to you, with my signature gym shorts and my collection of tank tops?

Or perhaps you don’t see me at all; you just see your own reflection staring back at you.

I’ve never met anyone as self-obsessed as you. Last week you stole all of the 10-pound weights to do a barbell row. I needed those weights.

How can you dance with the guilt of what you’ve done to me?

Why won’t you notice me?

Why do you dance?

Can I dance with you?

-Theodore Dandy