June 14, 2003

Don't Sweat it

How I wish I could. Sweat. Like other folks. How I envied the boys on my "Y" basketball team who would come in at half time with their shirts dark and heavy with sweat. While it's true that I, in fact, had been sitting on a plank rather than running anywhere during the first half, if I had been playing (and I did, once) my shirt would have been bright, dry blue-- just like before the game.

If I had played as hard as my team mates, I, personally would not sweat. Ever. My body, programmed in error at the factory, instead tries to pull heat from my legs, torso, chest, and shoulders up and out of my face alone. It's a bad plan, really. My body above the neck radiates palpable heat, grows coney island red -- almost purple; cheeks and temples and orbits bloat and puff, looking as if the thing needs to be poked a few times with a barbeque fork. A horrified onlooker might expect at any moment to witness sharp blasts of steam from the ears, an obvious valve for pent up pressure and heat.

Next time you perspire, sweat or 'glow', thank your lucky stars. You could come in from the garden like I just did, looking like a Ball Park Frank on a stick.

The worst part of inheriting the sweatless gene is that, lacking an effective way of shedding heat as it accumulates to dangerous, brain-poaching levels, my body has no choice but to reach up just above my ears and pull the emergency brake. In the middle of winning the best two out of three in racquetball, for instance, I have been known to inexplicably drop my racquet and walk off the court. Of course, one look at my face, it was apparent that something was dreadfully wrong. While my opponents basked in the cooling effects of sweaty bodies in motion on the court, I became a hissing crimson teapot, wearing a pained pressure-cooked expression, and they knew I was doomed to concede victory to those who were blessedly able to prespire. To the sweater go the spoils.

I can only thank my lucky stars that I was not born in an age where fight-or-flight responses meant the difference between life and death. Woa! Stop right there, Mr. Sabertooth. I'm overheated and I don't wanna play any more. Ball Park Frank, indeed. You have to wonder why this gene from the shallow end of the pool wasn't eliminated a long time ago -- by snarling, sweating predators who loved a hot meal.

Posted by fred1st at June 14, 2003 01:47 PM | TrackBack

can you spray yourself with water and sit in front of the fan? I do when it gets hot around here (not often, in Seattle).

Posted by: Anita Rowland at June 14, 2003 03:58 PM

Guess I won't complain about how one of my little kids at the riding school told me, the other muggy night, that I "looked like a witch," because of my sweat-soaked hair. ;)

Posted by: peggy at June 14, 2003 04:11 PM

Fred, I share your pain. I first remember passing out from the heat at the age of 12. Already, today, I've had to halt gardening twice to come inside to cool down--I don't even consider working outside in the heat of the day). A few months ago I astonished my workout partner by leaving the gym to go sit in the rain. Been this way all my life (and I claim age superior to yours--I have wedding pictures from 1/1/1958). My Hunky Husband just shakes his head. He feels that I'm a total wimp since he can go out to run 6-8 miles and come home streaming sweat from every pore, clothes soaked. The only thing that usually exudes from my pores is oil. The good thing is that the little switch in the brain protects us by shutting us down. Good luck with your heat regulator. Empathy to you!
About Anita's question to you: I soak my head in cold water, and a fan does help. This led to some hilarity some years ago when I had just brought a plane in from a service test flight and stood atop the ladder breathing avgas fumes while refueling the plane. When I got too woozy I repaired to inside the Experimental Hangar where I stepped on the foot-pedal control and ducked my head under the spray. That was good for good-natured ribbing for a couple of weeks!

Posted by: Cop Car at June 15, 2003 09:40 PM

I failed to note that the outside air temperature while I stood atop the ladder was 108 F.

Posted by: Cop Car at June 15, 2003 09:41 PM

I have the best (worst?) of both worlds: I sweat like water through cheesecloth, AND I turn the color of a boiled lobster. I've been told it's rather impressive and scary. Something happened in my twenties and my cooling system became what I guess would be considered "hyper-efficient." A few minutes of yard work on a moderately warm day will leave me soaking wet.

Posted by: Curt at June 16, 2003 01:13 PM

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