THE GYM IS A PLACE full of self-absorbed people. They are there to become fit; to gain muscle; to improve their appearance. In the section taken up with free weights, there is a lengthy mirrored wall to permit the weight lifters to ogle themselves as they lift. It is apparently important that they be able to observe how muscled their bodies are as they strain up and down. Getting to look at one’s muscles, after all, is part of the reward for putting in the effort, and watching oneself actually doing the lifting provides, I’m guessing, some sort of self-satisfied lift to the spirits as well. It is narcissism at its most basic level, and the compulsion to keep at it is a quasi-religious experience. I spend the majority of my time on the weight machines that fill the center of the large space, and when I infrequently venture into the free weight area, my self-consciousness causes me to avert my eyes from the mirrored wall as I heft a dumbbell. If my form isn’t exactly correct, if I’m not doing the exercise quite right, then looking at myself doing it in the mirror isn’t going to help. Since I am usually the oldest one there, I am granted my space. I try not to groan or grunt out loud, lest the younger people think that I’m having a heart attack or that I’ve overdone it and cracked a bone in my arm or leg. Eventually, I make my way to one of the treadmills off against a far wall, and hope that the jogging doesn’t make me have to pee before I reach my fifteen-minute mark.