I am a sweater.
Not the cozy, knit kind that you wear on chilly days. No, I mean I sweat. Majorly. I’m a schvitzer.
A sweaty betty.
I marvel at people who don’t perspire. My husband is one of them. Even when he works out, he only gets slightly moist, and can put his gym clothes right into his tote bag when he takes them off. No plastic bag needed. He brings them home smelling faintly of peppermint. Like they were stored with a pack of Wrigley’s. Right. He doesn’t sweat, he just emits mint.
Me, I drip. And I can’t hide it, since it pours right down my face.
I don’t have an issue with this when I work out, because that’s when you’re supposed to sweat. Big deal. You grab a towel. My problem is when I stroll somewhere to meet people, and show up beading from my brow like the outside of an iced coffee cup on a hot day.
And then, not because it’s barely detectable, but so profuse that it’s possible I might have been caught in a flash flood or pushed in a pool, people ask, “Are you sweating?”
The worst part is, it’s a delayed reaction.
I can be cool and dry the whole time I’m walking, and then, two minutes after I stop, I turn into a human sprinkler.
That’s what happened last night. I had a dinner date with my mother at The Red Cat, where my husband, No-Sweat Steven, would be working the floor. Mom asked me if I wanted her to pick me up in the car, since she was driving down. I said, “No thanks, it’s so nice out, I’ll walk.”
It’s like a 25-minute walk from our apartment, and I left 30 minutes so I could take my time. I thought, this way, I won’t break a sweat. (If I speed-walk I’m toast.) I approached the restaurant with a few minutes to spare, and totally dry.
But my face felt hot. A pre-sweat warning.
I ducked into the Tipsy Pony*, a dumb bar right next door, where the owner is like a carnival barker. He lit up when he saw me. “Hello, come in, would you like a seat at the bar, or a table?” I stopped him right there: “I’m just looking around. Thanks.” Now I could feel a trickle down my back. Face, moist. I stood under the AC vent and grabbed a bar napkin when the bartender had his back turned. I didn’t feel like explaining, “Not here to drink, just to dab my sweaty face.”
OK. Felt like I had it under control. I entered the Red Cat clutching my soggy ball of bar napkin and greeted the host. Normally, I’d kiss him hello, but I could feel that my face was now entirely slick. It was not stopping. So, standing six inches from him, I blew a kiss.
A waiter came over and hugged me. I felt my shirt sticking to skin.
“Your mother is in the back. I’ll take you to her.”
“Oh, thanks, but I’m going to use the ladies’ room first.”
I bolted into the bathroom and locked it, hearing an aggressive knock as soon as the door closed. I knew it was Steven, and that he’d spotted me and was waiting to torture me with what we call a Hot Cuddle.
I looked in the mirror. Face: drenched.
Why couldn’t I be one of those people who just gets attractively flushed cheeks?
I soaked through three bathroom towels, and then took a fourth for the road.
When I came out, Steven was back on the floor opening some wine, but he appeared soon at our table, fanning me with his hand. He leaned in and kissed me with an overly puckered mouth, so he could make contact with my lips and nothing else.
“You OK?” he asked. “I heard you were schvitzing. Did you say hi to Paul?” Steven jabbed a thumb back toward Paul, a waiter I hadn’t seen yet. He was standing right behind Steven, grinning. “He’s the one who told me you were all sweaty.”
Paul gave a little wave.
Steven elaborated: “He came up to me and said, ‘Your wife’s here. I think she’s sweating.'”
“Didn’t know it would be so hot, huh?” My mother asked as sweat continued to bead and drip from my forehead.
While we looked over the menu, Steven visited several times to check on my condition.
“I’m dry now,” I assured him.
He fingered the damp bangs plastered to my forehead. “Not so sure.”
I finally cooled off, and then, in the heavily air conditioned room, I felt freezing.
Luckily, I’d brought a sweater. The cozy, knit kind.
*Name changed to protect the dumb bar