To say that my husband and I feel differently about sweating is like saying Michael Moore and Blue Cross feel differently about health care coverage. When it comes to tolerance of heat and perspiration, we are (and I apologize in advance for the following groaner) solar opposites.
My husband loves to sweat. He relishes it. He works outside most days and perspires freely. When he comes home, no matter how high the temperature has climbed, he takes - I kid you not - a SAUNA! It can be 101 in the shade with a heat index of 116 and the guy will think nothing of stepping into a 170-degree box of vapor for 30 minutes, followed by a cold shower. (There's obviously a little Norwegian in his DNA. I suspect he was separated at birth from his identical twin, Bjorn.)
The sauna is his temple, his most revered room in the house. It was the first of many improvements he made when we bought our "handyman special" 18 years ago. Our master bath at the time was the size of a gym locker but, by God, we had a sauna, complete with cedar benches, electric stove with rocks, thermometer and timer. (I must admit, unlike our living and dining rooms that can sit for weeks without human occupation, the sauna is used once a day like clockwork. Twice daily on weekends. So I can't really complain.)
My husband is a lean, mean, sweating machine and a staunch proponent of perspiration. "Sweating is good for you!" he'll say, righteously. "It rids the body of toxins and cools you down."
"Easy for you to say," I'll retort. "You're not the one whose hair mats to her head after five minutes in the backyard."
For the record, I hate to sweat. It makes me feel ugly and crabby, and I avoid it like the plague. I stay away from all situations in which perspiration is a remote possibility.
But sometimes, no matter what I do, sweat happens.
Case in point: Last weekend, we attended a charity wine-tasting event - an annual affair where, for a nominal donation, patrons sample a variety of wine and liquor, along with tasty morsels from local restaurants. My spouse has never been fond of crowded social events, but I convinced him to go. I wore a loose-fitting ensemble of white cotton, rationalizing that staying cool outweighed the risk of spilling zinfandel down my front.
Five seconds after entering the hotel ballroom, I knew I was in hot water. Or about to be. The temperature instantly spiked 10 degrees due to the crush of bodies, food warmers and a woefully inadequate cooling system. Quickly applying a law I recalled from Physics 101 (body weight times room temp divided by number of party guests), I determined I had exactly eight minutes before my internal thermal energy passed the boiling point.
So what did I do? I had a glass of wine.
There are two kinds of mistakes in this world: little, insignificant errors - boo-boos, if you will - and big, fat screw-ups causing intense remorse. This was a case of the latter.
But - hey - it was a WINE tasting! What was I supposed to do, demand a frosty malt?
Moments after my first sip of an "elegant and capricious" pinot noir, I started to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West. "I gotta get outta here," I gasped.
I dashed out to the corridor and located an overhead vent by the restrooms that blasted deliciously cold air down onto my head. I spent the rest of the evening occupying that spot, sharing it with other overheated women who'd stagger out of the ballroom like panting point guards in a triple-overtime game.
Every 10 minutes, my husband would emerge from the inferno to check on me or bring me a fresh pour. He never broke a sweat. Not a single bead. (How could he? He'd left it all in the sauna hours before.)
As I stood there sipping a "crisp and aromatic" sauvignon blanc - face beet red, hair still sticking to my neck - I worried. Had I put a damper on his fun? Ruined his night by abandoning him in the throng? I was about to apologize when he started fanning me with his program, barely suppressing hysterical laughter. I realized the man was thoroughly entertained.
I decided not to sweat it.