I’m a summer sweater. You wouldn’t believe how much I sweat on a sweltering summer’s day. Disgusting. No woman wants to snuggle with me, I sweat so much. Which is why I prefer the shade and the leisurely amble to the driven gait, all the while breathing deeply, slowly, Jedi-like. Huge differences appear in your style of walk when you’re a sweater. I’ve searched far and wide for white linen shirts, sans col, to keep me cool when the perspiration becomes embarrassingly unsexy. And yet, I seek and welcome sweat in fall, winter and spring. I especially enjoy a night of merry, sweaty debauchery in the three cooler seasons.

Fact: The human skin is equipped with thousands of minuscule pores, whose purpose is to expel toxins and all the other nasty things we filthy humans greedily ingest, like cheese, for instance. It’s akin to the exhaust system in a well-oiled, hard-working Ford F-150.

It’s genius. Only an omniscient and all-powerful being – a Godlike being, if you will – could have come up with such an inspired design. Why, it’s practically Biblical. Cue the chorus of heavenly trumpets, Mr. DeMille.

Speaking of God, the Creator, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Chamintou, The Big Guy Upstairs, She Who Must Be Obeyed, Jesus’s old man, the very muscular, ageless white guy with the cool white mane, beard and robe who lounges on fluffy clouds as he judges, always judges us; His name has come up more times than He has names during the past few weeks in Ouje-Bougoumou. Strangely, from both sides of the opposing camps in a battle for the hearts, minds and sweat glands of the good folk of Ojay.

In the beginning, the previously unsweaty Ojayite Redfern Mianscum thought it wise to build a sweat lodge in the land of his fathers (or, in our parable, the backyard of his kinswoman, Lana Wapachee). It was to be a project for the greater benefit of his brethren who were much troubled by the sins of strangers from across the Great Sea. Redfern, may thouest know, had remarked upon a great degree of teeth gnashing and garment rending among his chosen people. Had he been gifted with speech from the power of The Lord, he would have demanded of the Pharoah in Quebec City: “Let my people go!”  But nooo. Twas not to be.

Back in the day, my great grandfather Josiah would erect a small dome in his teepee during the middle of winter and burn water-smoothed rocks gathered from a nearby stream until they glowed red. Then he would baptize them with pure, clean water and sit, breathe deeply, and above all, sweat. He could, if he felt the need, chant a tune and sing his ails away. There were no demons. There was only the soothing heat of steam that washed dirt, pain and toxins away from his hardworking body. If he felt he should commune with his Power, he would. That is all.

I’ve been in a few sweat lodge ceremonies in my short life. The first was with a group of troubled young people from a city that shall remain nameless. Water was splashed on glowing stones in a lodge that was darker than the darkest night. Steam enveloped us. Our lungs filled with heat. We listened to songs whose language we couldn’t comprehend. I swear I saw glowing lights in my pain.

Finally, the door was flung open and the sun shone in and it was the most beautiful sight I had ever witnessed. Later, we asked each other what we felt and saw. The young tattooed gang member next to me claimed he had seen a tiny human-like being hovering above the hot rocks. It was probably the first and only “spiritual” experience of his tired young life.

This morning I awoke from a night of debauch. I felt awful. My mouth was a desert. I stumbled out of bed, guzzled what was left of my healthy liquids and drew a hot, steamy bath. I ritually denuded my tired body and eased my hangover into the bath. Within minutes, I was ready to go again, a new man. Aaah, steam… a gift from Above.