On the lighter side of the Nonahood, this is a column about the humorous realities of life in Central Florida. We must choose to laugh and sweat rather than cry and sweat.
My brother and I floated in the Dead Sea, bobbing around like a couple of human-shaped rubber ducks, and laughing at our physics-defying and chemistry-affirming buoyancy. The Dead Sea must be where the earth sweats. And that transitions me into my painful subject for the month: sweat.
If you don’t sweat in Florida, may the gods curse your dry head to be dipped in the Dead Sea repeatedly (sorry, my daughter is making me read the Percy Jackson books). But if you do sweat, like the rest of us, I’m here to comfort you as I rant about our particular brand of sweat: the eye-pinging, eternal, stinkify-ing, I-have-a-107-degree-fever-and-I-think-I’m-dying kind of sweat.
Writing this column makes me wonder if I have issues. Yes, I do, and they’re all caused by Central Florida.
For example, I play soccer over lunch at work where I’m a writer/illustrator. We play all year round. Yes, we play in August at 12:30. Want to join us? No? Okay. Immediately after playing, I have to pitch ideas for upcoming articles to a group of editors. What provokes sweat more than soccer in the insanely soupy Floridian humidity? Sitting in front of a group of editors whose job it is to judge you.
“Phil, so you want to write a profile on a camel whisperer?”
Drip, Drip. “Yes.”
“Where is he located?”
Drip, Drip, Drip. “I think he’s in sub-Saharan Africa.”
“Oh, man, and you say our only window to profile him is in the summer? It’s going to be hot.”
Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, drip. “I know. Argh, this sweat.”
“Am I making you sweat?”
“Gurgle, slurp, glub,” says I, the human puddle.
To make matters worse, I play soccer in “moisture-wicking” fabric. More like “moisture sticking.” Supposedly it’s “scientifically proven to do really cool science-y things” for our faux athletic bodies. However, all mine does is locate every possible fleshy puddle on my body, soak it up and display it for all to see. To top it off, it doesn’t wick, it turns my sweat straight into gag-scented mildew. They should call it moisture wicked fabric. Not wicked as in the Boston sense of the word. Wicked as in depraved, iniquitous, appalling and heinous.
“Hey, I like your new ‘depraved fabric.’”
“I know. After I sweat, it goes from white to black to rainbow in like 15 minutes.”
Sweating is such a natural part of Florida life that who among us has not shamefully skipped our shower and just changed our shirts (I’m so vulnerable in this column). Harmless enough, right? Wrong.
Say I’ve just survived my incendiary driveway to retrieve our Saturday newspaper. I decide not to shower since I’m going to have to shower four more times today anyways: two times after mowing the lawn, once after walking up the stairs (I don’t bother after the way down), and once after washing the dishes (or if I get caught for not washing the dishes).
Un-showered, I stroll to my chest of drawers and blithely pull out my Mary Kondo-approved, pre-thanked, joy-sparking, fondle-folded, blessed-T-shirt of everlasting ecstasy out of my drawer. I anticipate its smooth embrace as I slip it over my head, not knowing that I’m about to feel a million miniature cats clawing their way down my back. I’m a salt lick.
My 12-year-old daughter informs me that sweat is the body’s way of regulating temperature. Whatever, smarty-stretchy-pants, sweat is Florida’s way of trying to kill me.
I tell her that 70 percent of the body is water, and if this keeps happening, everyone will soon be two feet tall and creating a moist wake behind them like a slug. (Which leads me to one of nature’s great paradoxes: When a slug sweats to cool itself, why doesn’t it die from its own salt?)
Well, at least we’ll make our New Year’s weight-loss goals. Hearing this, my daughter smugly lifts a glass to her lips as she answers, “Not if I do this.” Know it all.
Maybe she has a point. That’s exactly what’s happened to the Dead Sea. It’s not drinking. No rivers, tributaries or water thingies drain into the thing, and all the water is evaporating into the atmosphere and the poor sea is getting more and more salty (like my daughter) by the minute.
Thinking back to when my brother and I were blobbing around in the Dead Sea and giggling like a couple of, well, our daughters, we saw a kid sprint to the shore and dive straight in. Our jaws would have dropped open if we didn’t know better. I had accidentally touched my lip, which was slowly smoking into my left nostril.
To this day, I have never seen someone exit a body of water as fast as that poor child. If we’d been a little farther north, I’d have been impressed by his Jesus walking on water impression. Of course, then the kid would be blissfully doggy-paddling through the Sea of Galilee, rather than scampering wildly around the beach yelling for his mother in some foreign language.
“Typical tourist,” I said to my brother.
“Yeah, he doesn’t even speak American.”
“Reminds me of Florida.”
“Don’t get me started.”
Philip writes for Cru, a nonprofit organization located on Moss Park Road, close enough to the 7-Eleven off of Narcoossee to justify ditching work for a Slurpee. While he thinks he’s funny, he wisely never verbalizes his musings to his two ever-increasingly hostile pre-teens. His brain doesn’t seem to do the heavy lifting in the writing process – his sweaty fingers do. So, if you laugh, snort, chortle or guffaw, they deserve the credit … both of them.