HONG KONG – Mine are the hardest-working sweat glands in the sweat-gland business. I was reminded of this after enduring another humiliation this morning in steamy Hong Kong, having walked 15 minutes to meet a quintet of my Chinese students for the first time.
Before seating myself in the campus café, I ducked into the bathroom to survey the damage. The dampened patches of my oxford-blue shirt, as always clinging to the least-flattering bits of my torso, looked like a world map: North America and Europe on the pectorals, Africa around the sternum, and Antarctica, well, spreading southward. It was so bad, the barista cast me a piteous look and offered a towel: not a paper towel, but a towel towel.
The problem, I’ve just diagnosed, is hyperhidrosis. Can I sue someone for this? Or score prescription drugs? Or at least blame my parents?
Regardless, I clearly wasn’t made for tropical weather. The soupiness here assaults me the moment I step outside and lasts way-y-y beyond the time I’ve escaped into an air-conditioned refuge.
It’s the only drawback of Hong Kong, as I learned while teaching last year. My sweat affliction was so visible, a student from the mainland later remarked: “When you’re writing on the board, we can see your passion for journalism.”
My empathy for kindred fellow-sweaters knows no bounds. Sweat like a pig. How those poor pigs must suffer, I thought. Then looked it up. Turns out, it’s one of the great defamations of our time. Pigs don’t even have sweat glands! If anything, we “sweat like a horse.”
Yet as the sun sets and the air cools, eureka, I may have stumbled onto a cure. Dogs have long been savvy to the secrets of temperature regulation.
Tomorrow, I give panting a try.