I glance down at myself as I walk out the door into the crisp morning. It’s been forty minutes since I climbed off the elliptical, yet irregular swatches of perspiration speckle my t-shirt where skin touches fabric, mostly through the midriff. Obviously, the shower didn’t take—again—so I think dry thoughts to stop my carcass from steaming like a doughy hum bow.
I’m a sweater; always have been. I love fall for so many reasons—football, the beautiful local foliage, shopping early for the best deals on Halloween produce and razor blades—but when you’re as prolific a perspirer as I am, the frosty weather soothes those prickly pores like Mother Nature’s Speedstick.
But whether it’s due to an unusually hot summer or the deepening tick head of manopause, I fear my exterior hydration issue is getting worse.
Last Thursday was my birthday, so the family and I planned to meet up at our favorite Italian place in downtown Seattle. Coincidentally, earlier that afternoon my employer threw a nice little summer bash down at the waterfront aquarium. Having cake and eating it too was the order of the day, so, after enjoying the company of my co-workers and a few refreshing beverages, I took my leave to climb the hill toward the restaurant on Second Avenue.
I was first to arrive, and while not having reached the dew point, I was a bit frothy around the dorsal fins. The only available outdoor table sat directly across from the accordion player but what the hell, I thought. I knew a certain family member didn’t enjoy dining al fresco among the traffic, but hey, someone had turned fifty-two years old that day and it wasn’t her.
I won’t rat her out, but when she arrived with the other two, she immediately voiced her contempt for my seat selection. Always one to keep the peace, I acquiesced and agreed to go inside. We followed the host to a pleasant corner table.
Less than thirty seconds after immersing myself in this sweltering, garlic-infused corner, I had already transformed into a human Yellowstone National Park, geysers of murky saline dripping down my neck and filling my ear hoops with appealing liquid color prisms.
My robust napkin served as my only ally as the people who most loved me glared like I’d just eaten their phones. “Why don’t you go to the bathroom and freshen up?” one of them quipped. “We’ll wait to order.”
I splashed water on my face and neck and returned to the table. By the time the waiter arrived, I was again basting in my own yields. As the young man took our orders, his eyes darted in my direction while my napkin inched one dab at a time toward terminal saturation. “Excuse me. I’ll be right back,” said the waiter. He disappeared around the corner.
The rest of the family, tugged between embarrassment and empathy, stayed cool and dry, as if they’d just emerged from baby powder showers. Bastards. Just as I feared the final life-affirming electrolytes had soaked into my t-shirt, the waiter returned. He carried a very large fan.
Erupting in laughter, my beloved wife and offspring watched as the guy stood it up about three feet away and pointed right at my face. “I always get really hot working back here. This should help both of us,” he offered. For all I cared, he could have told me that I was making the other customers vomit their bruschetta, as long as that fan stayed blowing on my sweaty noggin. “Bless you,” was all I could think of to say in my weakened state.
My birthday dinner progressed nicely from that moment forward. The looks of humor and disgust gradually evaporated from my family’s faces, and by the time the tiramisu arrived, I was dry enough to open presents safely. The accordion player shuffled over to accompany the waiters in an Italian-accented rendition of “Happy Birthday” and the evening ended on a pleasant note.